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Reach of financial activity

The US is the leading financial centre for international financial activity. However, the UK is a strong contender – despite the smaller size of its economy.

The UK’s banking sector is globally connected, its financial and professional services firms provide services to partners around the world, and it is the world’s largest centre for international debt issuance, commercial (re)insurance, and foreign exchange trading. Hong Kong and Singapore are increasingly strong contenders as attractive markets for foreign listings.

The UK’s international financial reach is unmatched. The country’s value of net financial services exports is considerably higher than in other global financial centres

The UK more than trebled its OTC interest rate derivatives activity between 2016 and 2019, overtaking the US and increasing its global market share to 50%25Financial services firms located in the UK benefit from deep and global connections and export a higher value of products and services than they import. In 2019, the UK’s net financial services exports amassed USD 77bn and were higher than the value of Singapore, Hong Kong, and Germany’s net financial services exports combined.

Whilst this figure was slightly lower than in the years before, it was considerably higher than the US’ net financial services exports which stood at USD 60bn in 2019. Japan is the only global financial centre that imported more financial products and services than it exported.

$77bn

In 2019, the UK’s net financial services exports were higher than the value of Singapore, Hong Kong, and Germany’s combined

19%

Between 2015 and 2019, the value of investment funds domiciled in the UK grew by 19% to $1.9tn

>300%

The UK more than trebled its OTC interest rate derivatives activity between 2016 and 2019, overtaking the US and increasing its global market share to 50%

The UK’s banking sector is the most international and globally connected of all global financial centres

UK-domiciled banks are the most international of all global financial centres: In 2019, their cross-border positions such as claims on or liability to a counterparty located in a different country totalled $4879bn. This figure compares to total cross-border positions for Japan-domiciled banks of $3911bn and United-States-domiciled banks of $3122bn.

Whilst cross-border positions went up in every global financial centre between 2015 and 2019, the rate of increase varies from +4.8% in Germany and +7.4% in the UK to +26.7% in Hong Kong. These figures reflect the UK banking sector’s international reach but also demonstrate that the UK should not be complacent. They are a call to further underline the UK’s global ambitions.

Partner story

Agvesto: 'It is important to have a base in the UK so we can more easily show international insurance companies and international investors the opportunities.'

Agvesto: 'It is important to have a base in the UK so we can more easily show international insurance companies and international investors the opportunities.'

Partner story

Salonica Group: 'In London you can pretty much find anyone with any kind of intellectual strength that you want.'

Salonica Group: 'In London you can pretty much find anyone with any kind of intellectual strength that you want.'

43% The UK accounts for 43% of global FX turnover
London and the UK are Europe’s leading destination for investment in financial services

The UK is a top destination for financial services foreign direct investment. Between 2015 and 2019, UK financial services inward FDI stock grew by 19% from $492bn to $585bn, evidencing that the UK remains Europe’s top centre for financial services investment. Likewise, London is Europe’s top city for financial services FDI: In 2019, the city saw 67 financial services FDI projects, which is more than double the number of projects in Paris, which secured second place.

"This unique full-service ecosystem of innovative financial and professional services firms is not replicated anywhere else and is a national strategic asset for the UK."

Miles Celic, Chief Executive Officer TheCityUK

London and the UK’s competitive strengths in a changing world

Our world-leading competitiveness is built on longstanding strengths accelerated by a commitment to innovation