Main Content

Scotland is the UK’s most complete financial services centre outside of London, with a talented and highly educated workforce

Financial services

Scotland has a strong connection to financial services, and a strong international reputation. Businesses in Scotland have access to world-class capabilities in banking; investment management and asset servicing; insurance and pensions.

For the year 2013 to 2014, Scotland has seen:

  • 7 per cent growth in the financial and business services sector as a whole
  • 6 per cent growth in asset management and servicing
  • 30 per cent growth in computer programming and other related service employment

There are excellent links between banking communities in Scotland and London and global markets, with employees in different locations working alongside each other on a wide range of functions, projects and corporate deals, as well as well-developed transport infrastructure and excellent transport links with five major international airports serving over 150 destinations.

Scotland's labour market is one of the best in the UK, partly due to the country’s internationally renowned universities, which produce highly skilled graduates sector every year. This talent pool has been further enhanced by the presence of significant companies operating across the central belt of Scotland, including:

  • Barclays
  • HSBC
  • National Australia Group
  • RBS
  • Lloyds Banking Group
  • JP Morgan
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Aberdeen Asset Management
  • Tesco Bank
  • Virgin Money

This means there is a wealth of financial services talent in Scotland with over 86,000 people currently employed in the sector and a further 140,000 employed in business services, as well as a successful talent attraction scheme which aims to bring skilled individuals to Scotland.

“Scotland is a fantastic place in which to do business. We have talented, well-educated people. We have great infrastructure and we have a can-do environment towards business”

Anne Richards, Chief Investment Officer, Aberdeen Asset Management

Excellence in our education system

With the highest concentration of universities in Europe – four of which routinely feature in global league tables – and world class research, it’s no surprise Scotland produces thousands of highly skilled gradates year on year. Scotland also has the highest educational attainment of any part of the UK; over 50 per cent of the working population has further education attainment.

Additionally, the Scottish government is fully behind the country’s educational establishments. It recognises that an educated workforce is essential to future economic prosperity. As a result, students from Scotland or the rest of the EU (excluding the rest of the UK) are entitled to have their tuition fees paid by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland.

Scotland’s further and higher education in figures

Employers looking for fresh talent within the UK can access a ready supply of skilled individuals to tap in to in Scotland.

  • Scotland boasts 17 universities
  • Scotland also has 20 colleges of further and higher education
  • 97,340 students successfully completed higher education courses in 2013 to 2014
  • Of all qualifications in 2013-14, 65 per cent were of graduate level (first degree level or above)
  • In 2013 to 2014 there were 33,155 graduates from the subjects of business and administration studies, IT and engineering, and technology
  • Scottish graduates in financial and business services related courses - 2013 to 2014 (PDF, 206kB)

“The workforce we knew we’d be able to attract here would have a real deep understanding of the processes that were important in running a bank and financial services product. In Glasgow you have quite a lot of further educations facilities, so that obviously was appealing to us and we’ve been able to tap in to and attract a high level of good quality, well-educated, further-degree level colleagues.”

David McCreadie, Tesco Bank

Specialist courses and support – tailored to your businesses requirements

Scotland’s higher educational institutions provide a range of bespoke courses that are directly linked to financial services industry requirements. These range from courses providing training on analytical assessments and decision making through to practical applications of models and technologies used in financial markets globally.

Industry collaboration is also important in developing new courses such as the Diploma in Investment Accounting, backed by The Chartered Institute of Bankers Scotland, The Institutes of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and Scottish Investment Operations. This qualification was shaped through extensive consultation with the investment industry’s largest employers to address the absence of qualifications for new and experienced investment and fund accountants.

Other specialist support providers include: 

  • The Strathclyde Business School, part of the University of Strathclyde, is the only business school in Scotland, and one of only 21 worldwide, to win accreditation by the world's top three accreditation bodies
  • Glasgow Caledonian University, which has been named the Securities and Investment Institute's first Centre of Excellence specialising in financial services operations and risk
  • The Business School at the University of Glasgow, which is one of an elite group - less than 10 per cent of the world's business schools - that holds AACSB accreditation. Its MBA Programme is also fully accredited by AMBA and approved by the UK Cabinet Office for the civil service
  • University of Edinburgh: top 1 per cent of business schools in the world to hold triple accreditation (AACSB, EQUIS, AMBA)
  • The University of Edinburgh business school is also recognised as a Centre of Excellence in the provision of postgraduate education in finance and investment by the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI)

There are also a growing range of internships, apprenticeships and work experience opportunities available in Scotland. These include opportunities with many of the biggest names in global finance, all aimed at securing some of the brightest young talent of tomorrow.

Scotland’s workforce provides consistent excellence around Lean Management practices and has a strong track record of delivering organisational change, and we can provide support to embed the methodology required to implement this capability, in support of a companies’ own in-house offering.

“We have roles here that were once in London, once in New York. Senior business management are based in these hub locations and it’s important that they get access to the support network that is here”

John McGrory, Co-General Manager, Morgan Stanley

Further skills support in Scotland


ScotGrad is a free placement service for connecting you to appropriately skilled recent graduates eager to put their talents and qualifications to work. Scot Grad will stimulate applications to your placement vacancy by engaging with the graduate community so that you get strong applications to select from.

Modern Apprenticeships

25,000 Modern Apprenticeships are available each year with fantastic opportunities to introduce new enthusiasm and capability to your workforce. As an employer, you can pass on your experience, supporting your apprentice’s development whilst producing a skilled and productive workforce with financial assistance for training through Skills Development Scotland.

Next steps

Contact us if your project requires more detailed information in relation to skills or if we can help connect you to relevant educational stakeholders or partners.

Get in touch

Alternatively, you can access benchmarking information on setting up a financial services project in Scotland.

Access benchmarking reports