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Commercial Awareness Focus: Professional Services Firms and the Economy

Another way to approach your own development of your commercial awareness is to get a solid idea of how the financial services and professional services industry contributes to the economy. That way, what you hear and read about economic shifts and developments will begin to make even more business sense to you.

Professional services pack an economic punch

  • According to professional body TheCityUK, the financial services and professional services industry employs over two million people in the UK – that’s seven per cent of the working population! 
  • The UK financial services and professional services industry is one of the biggest contributors to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), contributing billions of pounds each year. Business and financial services is one of the largest contributors in the Index of Services (February 2015).
  • The City and the UK financial services and professional services sector as a whole is a leading European financial hub, and one of the global front-runners in banking, accountancy, management consulting, hedge funds, insurance and investment and private banking.
  • The industry’s economic influence isn’t just down to what’s going on in London. Though the City of London represents the financial heart of the country, there are, in fact, two-thirds of professionals working in the industry who are based outside of the capital. TheCityUK names Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh and Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester as financial locations with over 30,000 employees in the sector. 21 UK locations overall have over 10,000 employees in the financial services and professional services industry.
  • 2014 figures have shown that the UK’s financial services trade surplus is the biggest in the world! It’s more than two and a half times the size of the US trade surplus, which sits in second place. It’s three times more than that of Luxembourg, and Switzerland; third and fourth place respectively. The total of the trade surplus was $71 bn in 2013; up from $67 bn in 2012.
  • Interestingly, the UK’s financial services and professional services industry is also a prime job creator for younger people. The CityUK reports that the amount of professionals under 40-years-old working in the industry is a touch over 50 per cent. That’s higher than the average in other sectors (46 per cent). This is certainly reflected by the industry’s pioneering development and growth of apprenticeships, school leaver programmes and sponsored degree opportunities for bright school leavers who want to head straight into business.

Professional services firms support both public and private sector organisations from all sectors in their plans for and financing, growth and adherence to UK and international regulations. It’s a hugely influential task: the better these companies do and the more money they make, the better all round for the UK economy!

Economics and finance blogs in the national press will talk a lot about terms such as GDP and trade surplus. If you can get to grips with the business lingo and a firm’s position within the UK economy and global markets, you’ll make a big impression from the off in any business interview as a school leaver.


Driving Economic Growth; Creating Sustainable Jobs: How financial and related professional services serve the UK, TheCityUK, April 2014

Key Facts About UK Financial and Related Professional Services, TheCityUK, Jan 2014

Index of Services, June 2014, Office of National Statistics, June 2014

By Jos Weale, Editor,