Main Content

Scotland’s financial sector is the largest in the UK outside of London, hosting over 600 financial and business services companies. Could you be the next one in Scotland?

Glasgow, Scotland

1. Office operating costs are up to 40% lower in Scotland than in London

(Financial Times, FDI Benchmark Report)

Think reduced operating costs. Think talent. Think growth. Scotland is an attractive complementary location for organisations looking to expand, service and grow their businesses. As an alternative location for middle and back office functions, business services and new divisions, Scotland is the most complete and connected financial centre outside of the UK capital.

Scotland is open for business. Our skills, expertise and services have always been in high demand globally and that remains unchanged. Here, Scottish Development International (SDI) reveals how your London financial firm can benefit from locating some of its operations in Scotland.

Whether you’re an investment firm seeking to reduce the costs of back office functions, or a bank expanding technology based projects or departments, establishing a presence in Scotland would ensure your operation is benefiting from lower operating costs, whilst maintaining a connection to London and beyond.

Scotland is brilliantly connected. By operating from Scotland, financial services companies can access a highly educated, skilled workforce. Scotland also offers a well connected financial services community, with close collaboration across industry, academia and Government.

As host to over 600 financial and business Services companies, Scotland is the UK’s most significant financial powerhouse outside of London. Impressively, over £800 billion of funds in assets are managed from Scotland between large institutions and smaller, employee-owned businesses.

Why Scotland?

The fact that it costs up to 40% less to run a regional office in Scotland than in London is a draw for companies seeking to branch out alongside London. Whether the business is in banking, investment management, asset servicing, fintech or insurance, Scotland is front-of-mind for commercially-minded directors as an ancillary location to grow or service their financial services companies from. Established over 300 years ago, Scotland’s long established financial hub is thriving across its close-knit and highly-connected cities. As a complementary location, Scotland’s growing financial services sector, proximity and transport links to London make it an attractive lower-cost base for running middle and back office functions.

Discover why Morgan Stanley expanded into Scotland alongside London
View Video

London-based financial services companies are following the lead of companies attracted by the lower operating costs  of expanding into Scotland. According to a Financial Times FDI Benchmark report, the annual running costs for a 50-seat office are lowest in Dundee (£4.14 million), closely followed by Inverness (£4.20 million), Glasgow (£4.63 million), and Scotland as a whole (£4.84 million). The costs for a similar operation in London are £7.69 million.

Large global companies which have already invested in Scotland include JP Morgan, IBM, Barclays, HSBC, Aviva, BNP Paribas, State Street, Blackrock and BNY Mellon, together with Oracle, Fujitsu, Dell, SAS and NCR. 

2. Benefit from a more connected global financial services landscape

Brilliantly Connected Globally: Scotland is home to a wide and diverse range of financial services companies, providing exposure to a global financial landscape.  Like London, the Scotland financial sector works on the 'follow the sun’ business model, enabling companies to do business 24/7. The thriving community of large multinationals in Scotland includes State Street, Morgan Stanley, HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds and Aviva.

Many global companies have expanded into Scotland based on the financial sector’s long history, dating back to 1695 when the Bank of Scotland was formed. Other financial institutions with a presence in Scotland include Aberdeen Asset Management, Prudential, Scottish Widows and Standard Life.

How your business can benefit by expanding into Scotland

  • Substantially lower operating costs than the UK capital
  • Connections with 600+ financial and business service companies
  • Access to over 226,700 skilled and qualified financial and business service professionals – supplemented by 76,700 graduates every year

Scotland has an increasing number of graduates specialising in new and emerging financial technologies and there is also a growing number of companies working collaboratively to develop Fintech products and services.  These innovative and forward-thinking companies include MiiCard, Agenor and Money Dashboard, as well as large organisations such as CGI, Wipro and SAS. 

Find out how financial firm, BlackRock, benefits from being in Scotland

3. Scotland is second only to London in attracting investment

Scotland is brilliantly connected with global financial markets.  More Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) than ever is taking place in Scotland. In 2015, Scotland broke its record for the number of FDI projects during the year (up 51% on the previous year), and is the most attractive location in the UK after London for FDI. (Source: EY Attractiveness Survey).

The positive aspects of Scotland highlighted in the survey are many and varied: From accessing thriving tech and business sectors, to highly skilled professionals, the survey makes a compelling case why London based companies should consider Scotland as a complementary UK location.

The latest EY Attractiveness Survey Scotland shows that:

  • FDI projects increased by 51% in 2015
  • The sectors which contributed to the country’s highest number of (FDI) projects in any year since records began in 1997
  • Why companies invested in Scotland
  • The factors behind the impressive FDI performance
  • Which countries are investing in Scotland

4. Talent is the No1 factor in Scotland's success in attracting financial services businesses

Brilliantly Connected to Talent: Adam Smith, the Scot who pioneered the political economy, stated in his transformational book Wealth of Nations that: “The wages of labour are the encouragement of industry, which, like every other human quality, improves in proportion to the encouragement it receives.”Scotland’s quality of talent, through experienced management offers significant value to financial service employers. Whether you're building a company or a division of one in Scotland, businesses can tap into a large, diverse, highly-skilled and engaged talent pool. 

With over 86,000 people employed within Scotland’s financial services sector, the country offers high quality and flexible staff with skills across all disciplines of financial services.

Our universities produce  76,700 graduates annually, bringing with them relevant financial skills and qualifications in all areas of financial services – from accountancy and fintech, to credit and risk management. Scotland has 19 higher education institutions, together with 20 colleges of further and higher education. A rich talent-base is being produced year on year, bolstering the availability of skills in Scotland.

5. Grow your business in Scotland. Grow inside a social and financial epicentre

Brilliantly Connected. Socially. Deliver business operations from Scotland and you’re automatically exposed to some highly attractive business networking opportunities: from meeting and socialising with new clients at renowned golfing events at Troon, Gleneagles and St Andrews - to international rugby at Murrayfield – Scotland is a globally recognised destination for business and pleasure.

Scotland’s thriving financial services sector is complemented by its equally vibrant culture, traditions and pastimes. They all combine to produce a hotbed of opportunities for financial companies, and for many purposes – from sponsorship opportunities and entertaining clients - to rewarding colleagues.

So what does this all mean for London businesses interested in Scotland? The networking prospects for financial services companies in Scotland cannot be overstated: on average, around 118,000 business events take place at Scottish venues annually, equating to an impressive 7 million delegates.

Thinking reduced operating costs? Thinking talent? Thinking growth?

Make Scotland a complementary location to your London business. SDI can connect you to the right people, financial support and business locations, to make your move to Scotland an easy one.

Find out more about financial support