uk-mapThe City of London is a global centre for financial services, but opportunities to develop a career in finance are spread throughout the UK – and abroad. Compare and read about financial centres on the domestic and global stages.

The financial services sector directly employs more than one million people in the UK, and supports the employment of a further million professionals in associated services.

According to the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) produced by the Z/Yen Group, a leading think tank in the City of London, New York and London are still the traditional financial centres of the world. This year London remains slightly ahead of New York. Asian centres have narrowed the gap with three out of the top five global financial centres in the world being in Asia. The City of London has long been the ‘face’ of the UK finance sector and this does not look likely to change anytime soon.

However, this perception of the City masks the fact that over two-thirds of the UK’s financial services employment is distributed across key districts such as Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester. The UK is highly regarded for the breadth of its financial services and depth of specialisms, which are pitched across these and other financial hubs.

While London’s top investment banks will continue to lure many of the most ambitious finance professionals, opportunities abound in several thriving financial centres across the UK and Ireland, each with its own configuration of services and specialisms.


Home to two of Europe’s top 25 leading financial centres (Edinburgh and Glasgow), Scotland boasts a strong foothold in banking and financial services, and has long been held as a major European centre of excellence in asset servicing. The country is renowned for its expertise across the full spectrum of investment management, which encompasses securities servicing, investment accounting and performance measurement. Its presence in the insurance market is even greater, with around 25% of the UK workforce in general insurance, life assurance and pensions operating out of Scotland.

West Midlands and the North West

Manchester, Liverpool and Chester make up the bulk of this region’s finance sector. Manchester is the capital of the North for banking, retail finance, wealth management, insurance, accountancy and management consultancy, and offers niche specialisms in corporate finance, ethical finance and global custody.


Like Scotland, Leeds is a key centre within the UK’s insurance sector, providing the full scope of services therein. Much of the rest of the city’s financial services activities revolve around its expertise in accountancy, banking, stockbroking and venture capital.


Wales has a significant presence in a number of key sub-sectors, including asset finance, fund administration (including wealth management), mortgage administration, securities trading and insurance.

Northern Ireland

When compared to the world’s leading financial centres, Northern Ireland is furnished with sizeable cost-saving differentials, attracting the middle and back office operations of a multitude of multinationals. Many of these activities overlap with the country’s strong financial services technology presence, which include software development, infrastructure support and analytics. Belfast is the number one destination globally for financial technology Research and Development (R&D) investment.

About the Author

  • About Mark Yeandle: Mark Yeandle is the Associate Director of Z/Yen Group. He is the lead author and co-creator of the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI).

Mark Yeandle

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