Britain’s world-leading financial services industry is more than just the City

Alan Yarrow
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Alan Yarrow is visiting Bournemouth today (Source: Wikimedia)
Financial services” does not equal “London”. This is my message overseas – but it is equally important to say it on these shores as well. Like all lord mayors, I speak to and for the whole of the UK’s financial and professional services community – of which London is only a part. Our work is easier, and our offering as a place to do business is stronger, when we work together. It’s music to the ears of overseas investors.

One example can be found in Dorset, where JP Morgan is the second largest employer after the NHS and provides over 4,000 jobs. Those employees play a central role in supporting the company’s global offer, and the pioneering research and development work that goes on there, particularly in the fields of FinTech and cyber security, is rolled out in other offices across the world. This is not a unique situation and, in fact, of the 2m people employed in financial services in the UK, about 1.7m are based outside the City of London.

That’s why I’m visiting Bournemouth today. I’ll meet local financial services businesses – big names like JP Morgan, Barclays and Liverpool Victoria – to discuss some of the issues that matter most to the business community in the South of England: a region designated by UK Trade & Investment as a Centre of Excellence in Financial Services.

First, apprentices. Youth unemployment in Dorset currently hovers at about 16 per cent, almost bang on the national average. One way to create jobs is through apprenticeships – so how can we create more high-quality apprenticeships in the financial services industry? And then, how can we provide young people with the skills they need to actually succeed in these apprenticeships? Barclays and JP Morgan are both doing a lot in this field and I will discuss their plans during my visit.

We will also discuss the ongoing role that we all play in cleaning up the City’s of London’s reputation. As chairman of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI), I believe that we all have a role to play in raising standards and creating an environment in which a sense of right and wrong, not prescriptive regulation, keeps the industry clean, effective and fair.

One of CISI’s roles is to run and promote education courses and qualifications in ethics. This is a crucial skill for banking professionals and we must ensure that everyone – not just those who work in London – has the opportunity to access high-quality education, training and qualifications. Overseas investors will only come here if they know that our financial services industry is skilled and professional.

London is a great place. But alone it could never deliver the range of services provided by cities across the UK, all with their own specialities, strengths and local characters. When I visit regional financial centres, it is never as a boss from head office off to inspect the ranks, but instead as a colleague looking for advice and sector-specific knowledge that I will then promote overseas. The UK offer is indeed greater than the sum of its parts.

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