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Panorama showing the Lloyds building, water and buildings

Across the West of England, the sector is one of the largest in terms of both the number of people employed and the Gross Added Value (GVA) it creates. One third of FTSE 100 companies have a base in Bristol or Bath, and our city is the biggest legal hub outside London. Professional services make up about a quarter of jobs, and over a third of the city’s enterprises.

Our city has historic links to professional services: Bristol Law Society, founded in 1770, is the oldest local law society in the country. But it’s not resting on its already formidable reputation. Looking to the future, the sector will focus on diversity and inclusion for recruitment and representation, innovating and driving the city’s strength in financial technology.

Innovation includes Triodos Bank, with its a clear and transparent sustainable investment programme.

  • Bristol professional services employ over 34,000 people
  • The sector contributed £1.8 billion to the national economy in 2018
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Bristol is a leading financial, insurance and legal services centre, hosting the headquarters of many major banking, insurance, share dealing, ethical finance and legal firms.

Not only do professional services lend themselves well to home working, Bristol’s strong digital sector is well placed to take advantage of the predicted increasing demand from financial services firms, and legal and tax specialists. The innovators of the city are poised to grasp the opportunities from new and emerging markets such as blockchain, or supply chain technology for recruitment, marketing, and data visualisation.

Claire and James - working at computers in an office

Importance to the city

The city is a leading financial, insurance and legal services centre with many major international and national companies locating head office functions here. It has particular strengths in retail banking, insurance, share dealing, ethical finance and legal services, There are a number of centres of excellence throughout Bristol to support professional development within the sector with courses provided at colleges,  the University of Bristol, UWE Bristol and the University of Law  at Bristol Temple Quarter.

Bristol and Bath area has been identified as one of the UK’s 10 high-growth fintech clusters as part of the Fintech Strategic Review; with potential for further growth and is developing real areas of excellence.

City support

The local talent pool, including a wealth of technology and digital skills, plus opportunities for collaboration with other sectors, ensure this sector can draw on local support to develop.

There are a number of centres of excellence throughout the West of England to support professional development within the sector with courses provided at colleges, universities and the University of Law Bristol at Bristol Temple Quarter.

Ensuring that the future of professional services can adapt and be resilient is a critical aspect of economic development initiatives and investment, more of which are detailed under the training and skills infrastructure investment – link once created

Furthermore, the Bristol Chamber of Commerce, a key part of Business West, plays a central role in helping local businesses capture and nurture these opportunities, while ensuring that Bristol’s reputation for business remains high.

James Durie the Chief Executive of the Bristol Chamber is also a co-chair of the One City Economy Board. The chamber works across the city to ensure businesses reach their true potential. And working closely with the largest employers in the city it has a track record of success in delivering landmark projects to improve business, the economy and culture in the city.

Temple Quay people sitting down

Firms in the city reads like a roll call of the big players in professional services. Firms currently in Bristol include: Lloyds Banking Group, DAS Legal, Hargreaves Lansdown, Canada Life, Computershare Investment Services, AXA, Friends Life, Bank of Ireland, Royal Bank of Scotland/NatWest, HSBC, Santander, HBOS, BDO, Baker Tilly, PK, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, Deloitte, Smith and Williamson, Bishop Fleming, Grant Thornton, Ashfords, Osborne Clarke, Burgess Salmon, Clarke Willmott, DAC Beachcroft, Bond Dickinson, TLT, Bevan Brittan, Veale Wasbrough Vizards, Unum, Zurich, NFU Mutual and Simply Health.

Panorama of Temple Quay

Sector voice

The One City Economic Recovery and Renewal Strategy and Action Plan aim to build a renewed economy. The collaborative approach should help us build a sustainable, carbon neutral and ecologically positive economy. It aims to build a fair, inclusive economy that supports growth in all our communities. It is closely aligned with the goals of our partners across the West of England, and it is measurable against the UN Sustainable Development Goals. And it is informed by an extensive programme of sector and community engagement.

The Action Plan, sets out how we will meet these priorities, how much it will cost, when it will be achieved by, and who will need to get involved. Answering these questions will help make these more than just documents, and bring the One City Approach to life, but it will take a concerted effort from many different city partners working together. We are convinced that together, the city’s economy will not only be recovered, but renewed”.

James Durie, Chief Executive of Bristol Chamber of Commerce at Business West, and Co-chair of Bristol’s Economy Board

Headshot of James Durie

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