Euro Exim Bank

Edinburgh lights up

ImageEurope wise, Edinburgh constitutes a small city region with1.2 million residents. Despite the numbers this historic capital has established remarkable strength and leadership as a financial services centre and inward investment location. Named Europe’s Top Small City in the 2008 Financial Times fDi (Foreign Direct Investment) magazine awards, Scotland’s capital is also Britain’s second – and Europe’s fourth – largest financial centre, and ranked 20th in the world, ahead of Dubai, Amsterdam and Washington, in the March 2009 Global Financial Centres Index. Owen Kelly, Chief Executive from Scottish Financial Enterprise- the representative body for Scotland’s financial services industry – highlights the sectors key attributes “One of the points I always make is that the industry in Edinburgh is diverse and very varied. We have investment managers, insurance, life and pensions, asset servicing and a large professional services and broking community as well as banking, so it’s deep, very strong, and internationally very significant”.


Aside from its impressive lineage in financial services Edinburgh as a city seems to be the focus of much national and regional investment in a period where other cities are contracting. Twenty primary schools and a new special school are to be built or refurbished as part of a £1.25 billion investment scheme announced by Education Secretary, Fiona Hyslop.  More significantly the Edinburgh City Region is set to benefit from a planned ten-year, £888 million, programme of expenditure by NHS Lothian. The health provider’s plans will introduce a welcome boost to the areas construction and healthcare sectors, cementing Edinburgh’s reputation in the fields of medicine and life sciences. 

Also buoying this sector is the recent creation of the Easter Bush Research Consortium, cementing the position of the Edinburgh Science Triangle as a world-leader in life sciences and biotechnology by bringing together unparalleled research capabilities and expertise in the field of animal science. Now, as the Institute prepares to relocate to a brand new £60.6 million research facility on the Easter Bush estate, a new partnership between it and the globally acknowledged brands of the Moredun Research Institute, Royal School of Veterinary Studies and the Scottish Agricultural College will position the Easter Bush Research Consortium (EBRC) as the world leader in animal biosciences.

The consortium represents a cornerstone in the Scottish Government’s Life Sciences Strategy, designed to leverage the biotech industry as a building block for future economic success. The international work carried out by the established research facilities at Moredun and The Roslin Institute- famous for Dolly the cloned sheep -continues to play a central role in supporting and enhancing Scotland’s reputation in life sciences.

Previously many big players were opting to stay south of the border but Edinburgh can now offer unrivalled infrastructure with vast investments and improvement. Edinburgh Airport unveiled its brand new departure lounge this winter, launching the first phase of a £40 million redevelopment of the terminal building and the biggest single project in the airport's 32 year history. More than 40 airlines are currently providing over 100 direct flight routes to Edinburgh Airport, now Scotland’s premier gateway.  The three year transformation of the terminal will allow Edinburgh Airport to handle current and future passenger volumes, with as many as 13 million passengers expected to pass through the airport every year by 2013.

The new terminal features over 2,600 square metres of new space following the construction of a major extension to the north of the existing terminal. 450 additional seats have been provided and the popular view of the Edinburgh Airport runway restored. The City itself will soon receive another major transport investment, including a new £512 million tram system. As part of Scotland’s biggest transport project in a generation Ministers also recently reaffirmed their commitment to the £2.3 billion replacement Forth Road Bridge, accommodating a wealth of contracts and employment for many years.

Whilst it is difficult to ignore the year’s headlines surrounding financial services withdrawal from Scotland, both academic opinion and corporate movement point to continued confidence and attraction towards Edinburgh.

Responding to claims that the financial “centre of gravity” has shifted from Edinburgh to London, Professor Seth Armitage of the University of Edinburgh said that “there is no evidence that the financial crisis has damaged Edinburgh differentially above other places”. Professor Armitage from the finance department at the university's business school said that the situation was not as bad as was claimed. Commenting “the focus of Scotland’s financial sector has never been on commercial banking, but rather on its role as “a major centre for insurance and investment management.” Recent statistics from Scottish Enterprise suggest that Scottish investment firms manage up to £580 billion in funds, with Edinburgh identified as the sixth largest fund management centre in Europe.

One major coup for Edinburgh was the announcement in March that Tesco Personal Finance was establishing a new headquarters in Edinburgh’s Haymarket, creating more than 200 new jobs

One major coup for Edinburgh was the announcement in March that Tesco Personal Finance was establishing a new headquarters in Edinburgh’s Haymarket, creating more than 200 new jobs. The business has nearly 6 million customer accounts and markets its products in countries including Ireland, Hungary and Poland as well as the UK. “Edinburgh is the ideal place from which to move what is already a successful business into the next stage of its development,” says Chief Executive Benny Higgins. “There is a real enthusiasm among our staff for being based in Edinburgh.”


Earlier this year the Co-operative Bank also opened a new Corporate Banking Centre in Edinburgh as part of an £18 million expansion while Clydesdale Bank, owned by National Australia Bank, has seen an influx of corporate re-banking business in the last three months to its Edinburgh Financial Solutions Centre. As a marker of the calibre of activity still dominant in the area Standard Life, based on Lothian Road in the city’s financial Exchange district, has £117.7 billion of assets under administration and more than 6.5 million customers in three continents.


What is clear from recent Scottish financial reports is that Edinburgh and the Lothian region as a whole has fared extraordinarily well over this most testing of years.  A combination of the city’s well educated, honest and spirited workforce in conjunction with its impeccable fiscal background means that this powerhouse will remain an international force for decades to come.