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Financial and Professional Services

Benefiting from proximity to the City of London, but with 30-50% lower costs, the Thames Valley has an established financial and professional services cluster.

Centred predominantly around the town of Reading, there are a growing number of companies that have established regional and specialist offices.

  • The Thames Valley is in the top five regions for economic potential, human resources, cost effectiveness, quality of life, infrastructure and business friendliness.
  • Reading placed in the top ten in the European Cities and Regions of the Future in the FT’s FDI intelligence magazine awards, and second place for ‘Small European City for Business Friendliness’, as well as best place to live and work in the PwC/Demos Good Growth for Cities 2016 Index – much higher than London (15th) according to 10 key indicators key to economic success and wellbeing, including employment, health, income and skills.
  • Slough was named ‘Best European Micro City for infrastructure’.
  • Oxford ranked third and Reading fourth on the list of best towns and cities for supporting growth – UK Vitality Index 2016
  • Slough achieved second and Reading third highest levels of productivity in the UK (behind only London), with GVA per worker over 30% above the British average of £54,700. (EY)

According to the EY UK & Regions Economic Forecast 2016, Reading tops the growth league for both Gross Value Added (GVA) and employment, with average annual rises of 2.5% and 0.9% respectively projected until 2019. The Thames Valley is the top region in the UK for GVA growth, which is projected at 2.1%, compared to the UK total of 1.5%. Growth in Oxford is expected to reach 1.7%, also ahead of the UK average.


“This is our first regional and city forecast since the EU referendum and it’s positive to see the Thames Valley region’s strong economic performance outpacing London and the wider South East. This growth is reflective of the region’s position within the M4 growth corridor, as well as its ability to absorb jobs re-locating from London. These conditions have meant the region is able to grow quicker than the result of the UK, and we continue to see investment that will further grow our economy”.


Richard Baker, EY Managing Partner, Thames Valley & South


According to the City UK’s Finance for Growth in the UK (2015) Report, Reading/Berkshire is a significant financial hub, employing over 12,500 people or 9.5% of employment. The South East is the “largest region for financial and related professional services, outside of London” supporting the established and growing financial sector that has “particular strengths in insurance, management consulting, retail banking, and pensions and investments.”


Reading ‘East’ is consistently one of the locations with the “largest concentrations of employment and GVA (estimated £1.1bn) in financial and related professional services” – ranked 19th (out of 650) of UK national constituencies (2013). In the UK Financial and Related Professional Services: Meeting the challenges & delivering opportunities (2016) report they highlighted the UK’s emerging technology hubs. Amongst them is Berkshire, employing around 55,000 people and one of the largest outside of London centring on data management and analytics.


Helping feed talent into the local Financial and Professional Services sector is the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) Centre, based at Henley Management College, which is part of the University of Reading.


The Centre is consistently ranked in the top institutions for finance both nationally and globally. This includes being in the UK top 10 and the global top 40 for Masters in Finance, and being in the top 10% in the UK for internationally excellent and world-leading research.

Invest in GREAT Britain & Northern Ireland – Financial Services in the UK

Thames Valley Businesses


The Thames Valley is home to over 1,500 registered financial and related professional services businesses including major industry leads. Many of the best names in the industry have substantial regional and specialist service offices based in the area.


Reading based businesses include:


Alpha FX is a corporate foreign exchange specialist with a strategic focus on helping its clients control the impact currency volatility has on their business. Since its inception in 2009, Alpha has gone from strength to strength, becoming a publicly listed company on the London Stock Exchange in 2017.


Covéa Insurance has its head office here – one of ten UK offices. Launched in 2012 as a result of a merger between MMA Insurance and Provident, the company have won countless awards since then.


Many major organisations based in the area include: The Asset Finance team of Aldermore Group and the global EY offices.


Deloitte’s largest office outside London has approximately 600 people working across all four of its service lines (Audit, Tax, Consulting and Corporate Finance), with a strong team covering Reading, Gatwick and Southampton.


One of the UK firm’s largest regional teams, KPMG’s Reading office employs more than 400 professionals working with an array of impressive companies across the Thames Valley, whilst Prudential has three UK offices based in the area.


PwC who work with a diverse range of clients from across telecommunications, energy, utilities and biotechnology industries.



Specialist industry providers


Thames Valley is home to number of companies including Honda Finance Europe (Bracknell); Neilsons FS (Slough); Xafinity (Head Office in Reading, ahead of five other UK locations); Yattendon Group (Yattendon, Berkshire); Tavistock Wealth (Bracknell); Lifestyle Services Group Limited (Windsor) and H.Young Group (Newbury).



Access to Talent and Universities


The University of Reading’s first business school established in the UK, Henley Business School –– has been leading the way in business and executive education since the 1960s. Firmly placed in the top 1% of business schools in the world, it is triple-accredited for the quality and capability of faculty and output. Additionally it has a global reputation for excellence in undergraduatepostgraduate and executive education in finance, as well as professional and policy development research and consultancy.


It is home to the most extensive non-investment bank dealing room facilities in the world. As Europe’s first active collaboration between the securities industry and a University finance department, the ICMA Centre has built an international reputation over 20 years. Its mission is to deliver teaching and research in finance of the highest standard and contribute actively to policy debate.


A truly international business school, Henley boasts 70,000 alumni in 150 countries, along with long established executive education links with South Africa.


The Oxford Saïd Finance Lab is a joint venture between the Private Equity Institute and the University of Oxford. It is a tailored financial graduate training programme which is highly respected by financial services recruiters and senior finance professionals.


Students have the opportunity to take part in the Lab in addition to their programme of study. The Lab is a series of practical workshops on financial modelling and real-life case studies working alongside a number of banking firms & funds. Each workshop is followed by a networking opportunity with company representatives. Students apply theory-based learning from the programme and combine it with practical training.


The Oxford Saïd Finance Lab offers students the opportunity to understand key concepts, instruments and models required for finance courses, elective and interviews. Students gain the skills required to develop a financial model following a step-by-step methodology connecting business plans with financial statements, financial structure, valuation, risks and investment returns. Initiatives include the Oxford Chicago Global Private Equity Challenge.


Nearby, Saïd Business School at Oxford University blends the best of new and old. Founded in 1996, it is one of highest ranking business schools in the world, with a reputation for entrepreneurship and innovative business education. A young, vibrant and innovative business school, Saïd is deeply embedded in an 800 year old world-class university – and the number one University in the world (2016/17).


The Business School is ranked;



For more information on the UK’s financial services sector, the most internationally-focused financial marketplace in the world  and our unrivalled support for the global expansion of your business go to: https://invest.great.gov.uk/us/industries/financial-services/