Financial services and insurance exports surge to £78bn in 2017

Exports from UK financial services and insurance firms soared to a record high of £78.0bn last year, up from £74.8bn in 2016, according to new data published in the ONS Pink Book.

The UK’s financial services and insurance trade balance also increased from £58.2bn to £60.9bn in 2017. This trade surplus – the largest of any UK services sector by far – plays an important role in helping to balance the UK’s trade in goods deficit, which stood at over £137bn.

The sector’s trade with the European Union rose from £28.8bn in 2016 to £32.8bn in 2017, with the share of financial services and insurance exports going to this market also climbing from 39 per cent to 42 per cent.

Beyond the EU, trade with key markets including the US (up from £15.4bn in 2016 to £16.3bn in 2017), Japan (£3.9bn to £4.0bn) and Switzerland (£2.0bn to £2.3bn) all increased. Trade with China also increased from a low base of £280m to £340m. Despite strong performance in these markets, overall trade with non-EU countries actually fell from £46.0bn to £45.1bn.

Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chairman of the City of London Corporation, said:

“The success of UK financial services and insurance firms in exporting across the globe plays a vital role in balancing our trade deficit. It also helps to support jobs around the country, as well as providing the finance and services needed by our international partners.

“An increasing proportion of these exports are going to the European Union, which only underscores the urgent need to secure a positive services trade deal in the Brexit negotiations.

“A poor deal on services with Europe will mean that the sector is less able to create jobs, generate tax, and support growth across the wider economy.”

A recent report by the think tank Centre for Cities and supported by the City of London Corporation, London links: the geography of financial services in the capital and beyond, looked at how much individual cities across the UK export in services, and what proportion of these services exports came from the financial sector.

It found that cities such as Cardiff (81%), Northampton (76%), Leeds (71%) and Edinburgh (69%) rely heavily on finance as their major services exporter. Comparatively the financial sector makes up 41% of London’s entire services exports.

Notes to editors

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK.

A summary of the ONS Pink Book 2018 including overall figures on UK exports of financial services can be found here.

Further details on financial services and insurance exports can be found on the ONS website (table 9.13, columns I and J, row 38).

With this release, the ONS revised downwards the figure for UK financial services and insurance trade exports to £75bn in 2016. They had originally estimated that these exports accounted for £79bn in 2016.