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UK financial services 'still world leaders'


The hand-wringing over the UK's status within the EU and a number of embarrassing fiascos in the sector have led some to question whether the country's financial services sector has lost its mojo.

However, a new report from the Treasury has suggested the industry is still out-performing many of its counterparts in Europe and beyond, with London retaining its status as a capital for corporate finance and other banking areas.

In the 72-page study, which called for evidence regarding the European Union's competences in the field of financial services and the free movement of capital, the organisation found the UK to be the world's net largest exporter of financial services, pensions and insurance.

This underlines its importance to the world of global business and highlights the opportunities available within the sector, reports FT Advisor.

According to data gleaned from the International Monetary Fund, this means the financial services industry constitutes 63 per cent of the UK's total trade surplus, at roughly £74 billion.

Nevertheless, the debate over EU membership is likely to rumble on, with the Treasury pointing out that membership of the union is crucial to the export of financial services.

It is the largest destination for the UK's offerings, with around a third of trade in 2012 coming from interaction with European member states. Broken down, £15.2 billion went to the EU, 14.5 billion with the US and £1.7 billion to Switzerland.

Speaking to Money Marketing at the British Bankers' Association annual international banking conference in London last week, European commissioner for internal markets Michel Barnier indicated that the EU could be open to a change in how the group interacts with UK financial services.

This has pleased senior figures in the Conservative Party, who have been calling for such a shift for years.

Conservative MP, Treasury select committee member and leader of the Fresh Start group Andrea Leadsom said: "To hear even Michel Barnier is thinking along these lines is music to my ears. There is a new realism about the EU."

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