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Scotland ‘premier destination’ for investors as it keeps coveted UK spot

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Five of the nine projects won last year were in Edinburgh, and two were in Glasgow, with Motherwell and Dufftown each securing one project.

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Of financial services investors looking to establish or expand operations in the UK over the next year, 26% are looking to Scotland, up from 14% in 2023, according to the EY survey.

EY noted that, of the five UK financial services FDI projects which created more than 150 jobs in 2023, two were located in Glasgow.

The accountancy firm observed that London remains the leading European city for FDI in 2023, a position retained for the last 10 years, attracting 81 projects. Edinburgh is also in the European top 10, in ninth place.

EY noted the UK was the strongest-performing European market again in 2023 for financial services FDI projects. The UK won 108 such projects – an increase of 42% from 2022 – and this represented one-third of all European financial services FDI wins last year.

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Sue Dawe, EY Scotland managing partner for financial services, said: “Scotland’s financial services sector is a great example of resilience and innovation. EY’s latest report shows the sector continues to attract much enthusiasm amongst investors and confirms Scotland’s position as a premier investment destination.

“These results underscore the enduring strength and confidence that investors continue to place in our financial sector: where traditional institutions and emerging fintech disruptors contribute to a vibrant, dynamic and forward-looking financial ecosystem.”

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She added: “Financial services continues to be a pillar of the Scottish and UK economy – and is only increasing its position as [a] pivotal player on the international stage. Industry, government and education sectors need to continue collaborating to produce and retain world-class talent if we’re to harness cutting-edge technological advancements which create a competitive environment for further investment and growth.”

Scottish Financial Enterprise chief executive Sandy Begbie said: “EY’s latest attractiveness survey demonstrates the continued strength and attractiveness of Scotland’s world-class financial services industry, based on the depth, breadth and maturity of our ecosystem, the quality of our universities and skills pipeline, and the leadership we are showing in priority areas like data, AI (artificial intelligence) and green finance.

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“We believe there is even greater potential waiting to be unleashed. Our sector’s ambitious growth strategy aims to add an additional £4 billion to £7 billion to the Scottish economy over the next five years.”

He added: “These results also show that we are operating in an increasingly competitive marketplace and there is no room for complacency. It’s vital that industry and government work closely and constructively to further build upon our longstanding reputation as a good place to do business, attract further inward investment and create new high-value jobs that benefit everyone in Scotland.”

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