New group aims to reinvigorate Bath’s economy by making it financial centre of excellence

February 8, 2019

Bath can become an international centre of excellence for financial services by playing to its strengths as a great place to live and run a business, a new sector group has heard.

Launched last night to industry leaders, the Bath Financial Forum aims to grow the city’s reputation as fertile ground for finance firms. 

It will provide opportunities for financial services firms to collaborate, innovate and discuss the latest trends in relation to local, national and global issues.

Quarterly meetings will be used as a platform to discuss a specific topic key to the growth of the sector in the city, with skills development likely to be among the first to be aired.

The forum has been founded by Bath-headquartered law firm Royds Withy King, which has a dedicated financial services sector team, the city’ destination marketing group Visit Bath and inward investment organisation Invest in Bath.

More than 13,000 people are employed in financial services across Bath and the sector will account for almost 70% of job growth in the next decade.

However, while Bath is home to a number of fast-growth businesses in the sector, such as mortgage firm London & Country and wealth management firms Novia and Epoch, it does not have a national reputation as a top location for financial services.

A lack of prime office space of the kind required by firms in the sector has also counted against Bath. Online investment platform developer Parmenion quit the city for Bristol several years ago after being unable to find suitable office space and has since grown by around 50%.

By combining Royds Withy King’s experience of working with financial services firms with Invest in Bath’s intention to create a financial services hub as part of the new Bath Quays development, the aim of the financial forum is to highlight the skills and knowledge in the area, attract the best talent and increase the average earnings and in-turn spending within Bath – so increasing the diversity of the income to the city.

Visit Bath head of business development and partnerships Leslie Redwood told the launch that while the city was well known for its tourism and creative sectors, the strength of its financial services community was often overlooked. 

The forum was a direct response to Visit Bath’s new challenge to be the ‘marketing agency for the whole of the city’s offer’ he said.

“Professional Services, creative and tech businesses are very much the story of the ‘new Bath’ and Visit Bath, along with our strategic partners, is now working in collaboration to promote and champion the new story of Bath regionally, nationally and internationally in order to attract new investors, visitors and residents to a reinvented and reinvigorated city for the region and for the nation,” he said.

“We are keen to broaden this work with increasing partners and sectors as we move forward with this and other new strategic partnerships in the next few months.”

Royds Withy King managing partner Graham Street added: “The Bath Financial Forum will provide a dynamic environment for professionals to come together to explore the opportunities to put Bath’s financial services sector on the map.”

Bath & North East Somerset Council (B&NES) director of economy and growth John Wilkinson and Invest in Bath marketing manager Emma Williams explained the vision for the Bath Quays development at the launch, which took place at the Abbey Hotel.

They told the gathering how the development would, for the first time, give Bath an opportunity to attract and retain high-growth firms in the financial services sector as well as those that could work alongside them such as creative and digital businesses.

B&NES council leader Tim Warren congratulated those behind the forum and said it was long overdue. He also said Bath was now working much closer with Bristol, which would also offer much greater opportunities to promote the wider region as a centre of excellence for financial services to the benefit of both cities.


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