Financial services

UK’s Covid record helps spur investment

Sue Dawe
Sue Dawe: ‘we must be forward looking’

Financial services firms are continuing to invest in Britain, helped by the country’s success in tackling the Covid pandemic.

In what is also seen as a vote of confidence following Brexit, 87% of global financial services investors said they were planning to set up or expand in the UK this year.

This represents the highest level of confidence since EY began its attractiveness analysis.

Sentiment around planned investment into UK financial services has risen significantly in recent months, increasing from 50% in last spring’s survey and picking up considerably on the low of 11% recorded in 2019 before the onset of the pandemic.

Financial services firms constantly review their operating models and strategies, but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a wholesale reassessment of virtually every aspect of a company’s business, including its investment plans.

Four in ten (41%) of firms surveyed in November last year said that the pandemic has meant they are planning to increase their investment in the UK, with 8% planning a substantial increase. This is markedly higher than in the spring of 2021 when only 6% said they were planning on raising their UK investment level.

In addition, 90% of global financial services investors now think the UK will retain the same level of attractiveness or improve over the next three years, up from 75% in spring 2021 and 50% in spring 2020.

Over half (54%) of global financial services firms surveyed said a country’s success in addressing the pandemic is currently the most important factor influencing investment location.

More than half (59%) said ESG was either the top priority or within the top three priorities of their board’s investment strategy, and only 3% claimed ESG was not on their priority list at all. 

Other key priorities are the safety and security measures put in place to prevent a future major crisis, whether that be a health, environmental or cyber crisis, (38%) and the liquidity of capital markets and availability of capital (33%).

Sue Dawe, EY Scotland financial services managing partner, said: ‘Our interim Attractiveness Survey results demonstrates the strength and global reputation of our financial services sector, despite weathering continued pressures from both the pandemic and Brexit.

“Scotland’s financial sector has a solid foundation, with a long history of experience in banking, insurance and wealth and asset management, but we must continue to be forward-looking in both boom times and crisis.”

Confidence in London as the chief location for new financial services investment into the UK remains, with 54% of global firms surveyed citing the capital as the most attractive UK region in which to establish or expand financial services operations – up from 31% in the spring of 2021.

Scotland, perceived as the second most attractive region for financial services investment alongside the East of England, was down slightly with 13%, a decline from 15% in spring last year.



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