Financial Services

The UK is a leading global financial services centre and the single most internationally focused financial marketplace in the world. It has an unrivalled concentration of capital and capabilities, as well as a regulatory system that is effective, fair and principled which means that more overseas financial institutions and investors choose to do business in, and with, the UK than any other country.

On this page you can find facts and figures outlining the international nature of the UK financial market, the scope of products covered and some facts and figures that will give you a sense of the scale.

International Focus

Overseas owned firms represent nearly half of the UK’s largest financial services groups. Of these, it is the western continents of North America and Europe that maintain by far the largest share with around 52% and 26% respectively. Emerging markets are playing an increasingly important role in the UK sector as they internationalise.

The US is the largest investor along with Switzerland, Germany and Japan. There are 251 branches and subsidiaries of foreign banks in the UK, which is more than in any other country.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has authorised 1116 foreign owned firms, and one third of the £4.8 trillion assets managed across the UK are managed on behalf of overseas clients.

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The scope of the market

London is the home to the Lloyd’s insurance market and is a key centre for international insurance and reinsurance, particularly for marine and aviation business. It is the only place in the world where all 20 of the world’s largest insurers and reinsurers have offices. In 2010 the gross premium income was £36.9bn.

The UK, with pension assets totalling $3 trillion, remains the second largest market in the world accounting for 10% of total assets. UK assets are only exceeded by the US market,

The Foreign Exchange market in the UK is the largest in the world with 40% of global turnover (more than Tokyo and New York combined) at $2,191bn a day.

The London Stock Exchange is the world’s leading international exchange with over 600 international listings. In 2011 it saw 76 IPOs which raised £12.9 bn.

At the en of 2010 the value of UK-issued bonds totalled a record £3,440bn at the end of 2010 -up 3% on 2009. International bonds accounted for nearly three-quarters of this.

The UK is the leading Western centre for Islamic Finance with five Banks offering fully Sharia compliant services and at least 20 other financial firms offering Sharia compliant windows.

The UK is one of the leading countries in the development of carbon markets. European Climate Exchange contracts, traded on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London, have made up over 96% of futures and options trading on the EU Emissions Trading Scheme since 2009.

The UK is the leading international location for Sovereign Wealth Funds and London acts as a clearing house from where some of these funds are managed. Some of the larger funds are the Kuwait Investment Authority, Brunei Investment Agency, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Temasek/General Investment Corporation of Singapore which all have local representative offices in London.

The UK Private Equity & Venture Capital sector manages assets of £140bn, 30% of European private equity was invested in the UK

The UK is the pioneer of modern public private partnerships (PPP). Through PPP, £53bn has been invested in developing nearly 700 public sector infrastructure projects across the UK, including 140 hospitals.

The City of London initiative on London as a centre for renminbi (RMB) business was launched on 18 April 2012. The role of the initiative is to consider practical measures to support the development of London as a centre for RMB business. A resource pack provides further information on RMB products and services and contains a factsheet on corporate and treasury services, FAQs and industry specific case studies. These can be accessed on the City of London website.

Latest report – UK Financial Services Industry Annual Review 2012

Produced by IMAS and supported by UKTI, the UK Financial Services Industry Annual Review 2012 report highlights the size and structure of the UK financial services industry and the increasing overseas interest in the sector. Over 1,000 international firms own businesses in UK financial services, which demonstrates the openness of the sector. This number is growing, given the UK’s importance in the global financial services market which reflects its experience, concentration of expertise, favourable time zone and language. The UK openness to investment is matched and facilitated by transparency of information. You can now download the report here.

Some Facts and Figures

  • The UK ‘s Financial and Professional Services sector generated a Trade surplus of £40bn in 2010, significantly more than any other sector and is equivalent to 3% of UK GDP.

  • Financial and professional services enable businesses to start up and invest in expansion. And financial and professional services create opportunity in the economy generating nearly 2 million jobs; one pound in seven of GDP; and a £40bn trade surplus.

  • The financial services industry accounted for 10% of UK GDP and 11% of UK tax receipts.

  • The sector currently employs 1 million people, more than 66% of whom work outside London, and underpins the businesses that drive jobs and growth. Another 900,000 people are employed in associated professional services.

For more key facts on UK financial services visit TheCityUK website. TheCityUK’s purpose is to promote the competitiveness of UK financial services – to make the UK the best place in the world to establish and grow a financial services business and, in turn, to maximise the sector’s contribution to the UK.

Our investment location services are independent, highly professional and free of charge. For specific help setting up in the UK or for help mapping your business ambitions to the UK please contact us by email

Sectors: Financial & Professional Services
Countries: United Kingdom
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