London beats Dubai as top city for foreign investment in finance

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(April 26): London attracted more foreign investment in finance firms than any other city last year, underlining the Square Mile’s attraction to investors even after the U.K.’s departure from the European Union.

The U.K. capital attracted 600 million pounds (US$764 million) of investment into 114 financial and professional services projects in 2021, according to a report published by the City of London Corporation on Tuesday. That puts it ahead of the likes of Dubai, Singapore, New York and Paris.

Overall, the U.K. attracted 186 such projects valued at 1.1 billion pounds in 2021, placing it second behind the 234 attracted to the U.S. The report, which didn’t detail the value of the investments secured by other countries, is a reminder of finance’s enduring role as one of the U.K.’s most important exports.

“We must future-proof the sector and make sure we remain globally competitive,” Catherine McGuinness, policy chair at the City of London, said in the report.

The report said that the number of financial and professional services projects attracted to the U.K. grew 8% in 2021. But there’s still a long way to go before pre-pandemic levels are reached after foreign investment in finance and insurance fell by 30% between 2019 and 2020 globally.

Fintech firms were the largest source of financial service investment into the U.K., accounting for a third, the report said. They included payment companies Klarna and Airwallex, as well as finance solutions firm Portfy.