Scottish financial and professional services exports grow for fifth consecutive year

Scotland exported £9.2bn of financial and related professional services in 2019, up 7.7% from 2018, according to a new report from TheCityUK.

Financial services exports from Scotland accounted for 8.2% of Great Britain’s total financial services exports in 2018. TheCityUK estimates related professional services exports from the nation accounted for 3.9% of Great Britain’s total related professional services exports. Thirty-seven percent of Scottish financial services exports went to the EU in 2018, and the remaining 63% went to the rest of the world.

All regions and nations in Britain saw growth in financial and related professional services exports in 2019, with the industry’s exports rising overall by 8.2% year-on-year, contributing a total of £126.5bn to the UK economy while providing highly-skilled, well-paid jobs right across the country [3]. Almost half (48%) of all financial and related professional services exports were generated outside of London in 2019.

The report shows that Yorkshire and the Humber experienced the strongest annual average growth of financial and related professional services exports over 2014-18, at 17%. This was followed by the East Midlands (15%), London (9%), the North East and Scotland (8% each).

The South East was the largest exporter outside the capital in 2019 with £10.7bn in estimated exports, followed by Scotland (£9.2bn) and the North West (£8.4bn)

To put this in an international context, in 2019 Scotland’s financial services exports were equivalent to around 50% of those of the whole of France, and the North West’s equivalent to around 45% of French financial services exports, reflecting the UK’s status as the world’s second-largest exporter of financial services, after the US.

Sandy Begbie, Scottish Financial Enterprise Chief Executive, said: “It is positive to see Scotland’s financial and professional services exports increasing for the fifth consecutive year to £9.2bn, illustrating our significant contribution to the UK’s position as the world’s leading exporter of these services. This report also reinforces Scotland’s standing as a leading European financial centre in our own right with our industry’s exports equivalent to around 50% of those from the whole of France. Drilling down further to a Scotland level, the figures show financial and professional services account for 40% of all Scottish services exports with much of our industry's exports attributed to our first-class asset management sector.

“While the lasting economic and societal impact of Covid-19 isn’t yet fully understood, we know from these new figures and others that our industry was in a strong position going into the pandemic to support customers, colleagues and communities through these difficult times and beyond.”

Anjalika Bardalai, Chief Economist and Head of Research, TheCityUK, said, “This report dispels the common misconception that London sells financial and related professional services overseas and the rest of the UK focuses on domestic activity. The British financial services sector made a £56bn trade surplus in 2018 and almost half of this was accounted for by regions and nations outside the capital.

“Industry exports are likely to contract in 2020 as Covid-19 wreaks havoc on global and UK economies. However, the disruption caused by the pandemic does not alter the fact that regions and nations outside London – especially the South East, Scotland, North West, and Yorkshire and the Humber – make large contributions to the UK’s position as the world’s leading financial and related professional services net exporter.”

Full regional and national data, including some sub-regional data, is available in the full report: ‘Exporting from across Britain: Financial and related professional services 2020’