London Links

What role do financial and professional services play in British cities, beyond just London?

While financial services tend to be centred in London, the industry plays a big role in cities across the country, and any deal for the sector after Brexit must recognise this.

Report published on 26 July 2018 by Anthony Breach and Gabriele Piazza


Financial services are widely recognised as playing an important role in the national economy. That they are centred in London is also well known. But the role that both this sector and related professional services plays elsewhere in the country, and the links that these activities have with the capital, are less well understood.

This report explores the financial and professional services sectors in cities across the UK, and looks at what the relationships are with London-based firms in these industries.

Key findings

  • Financial services and related professional services play an important role in a number of other cities for jobs, productivity and exports.
  • London-headquartered businesses in these sectors accounted for just under 220,000 jobs in other British cities in 2017.
  • 40 per cent of all of urban Britain’s finance and related jobs were in a London-based firm.
  • The relationships different cities have with London varies, both in terms of their number and their nature. While not everywhere had strong links with London, a number of cities had a large share of financial services jobs in particular in London-headquartered firms.
  • These jobs vary in their nature. In cities such as Brighton, Leeds and Bristol, this large share of jobs tended to be in high-skilled activities.
  • Cities such as Sheffield, Sunderland and Swindon also had strong links to the capital, but the types of jobs tended to be lower-skilled activities, suggesting that the jobs they have attracted have tended to be more back-office in their function.


Both the performance of financial and related services across the country and their links to the sector in the capital show that the fortunes of these activities do not just have implications for London. And so as the UK looks to change its trading relationships with the world, a deal for financial services will be important for a number of cities and not just the capital.



London Links PDF (3 MB)

This report was supported by the City of London Corporation

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