Sheffield’s banking and professional sector is forecast to add 10,000 jobs by 2025 - a financial prize the city and the council is keen to grasp.
Banking currently employs about 7,000, a figure which climbs to 17,000 if all the professional services firms are included.
The sector generates 13 per cent of the city’s income, compared to 20 per cent for manufacturing, and comprises 18 per cent of the total workforce. But each job generates more wealth than manufacturing - and it is set to grow by a further 10,000 jobs in the next nine years, according to the Sheffield City Region Growth Plan.
The Lord Mayor of the City of London was impressed on a recent visit, organised by the Company of Cutlers.
Lord Mountevans heads the City of London Corporation, responsible for the Square Mile where scores of leading financial and professional services organisations are based.
He said: “As a city, Sheffield has many of the key building blocks required to build a large financial centre, including a highly skilled and educated workforce.
I will speak to investors about Sheffield’s growing service sectorLord Mountevans heads the City of London Corporation
“Already, legal services are increasingly moving to Sheffield, and it is important for us at the City of London to continue to encourage this growth in professional services to drive future prosperity and job creation.
“I will speak to investors about Sheffield’s growing professional services sector, to encourage further investment in the city and its people.”
Irwin Mitchell, one of the largest law firms in the country, is based in the city and international behemoths DLA Piper and Nabarro both have sizeable offices here. Nottingham law firm Freeths has moved in recently, while accountants Shorts and KPMG opened offices last year. Accountants Grant Thornton are to move from the outskirts to a prime site in the former NUM headquarters in the city centre next year.
Immigration law firm Fragomen has opened its second UK office as part of a ‘north-shoring’ drive by the city council.
But that is only part of the picture. The authority is keen to position Sheffield as a ‘gateway’ to Chinese investment in the North.
It has signed a 60-year deal with a property company which will bring £220m in the first three years for up to five infrastructure projects.
Sheffield University has ties with China that go back 50 years and vice chancellor Sir Keith Burnett has just come back from a visit to Nanjing.
Now, the university’s Confucius Institute and Sheffield Chamber have announced plans to establish a ‘world-class’ business gateway that aims to channel Chinese investment.
Leigh Bramall, deputy leader of Sheffield City Council, said a strong city centre was key.
A £25million grade ‘A’ office block, 3 St Paul’s, opened recently, and HSBC is set to move hundreds of staff into a city centre office as part of the redevelopment of the retail quarter.
Coun Bramall added: “We know that business, professional and financial services firms cluster in city centres and that physical as well as digital connectivity is key for them. So we must see a strong city centre.”
High speed rail is also set to boost the sector when it arrives in the city centre in the form of HS2 and HS3 – an ambition for six trains an hour taking just half-an-hour to the centres of Leeds and Manchester.
Sheffield is also home to the British Business Bank which has a low profile but controls up to £4billion, with funds channelled through support organisations. It also looks after the newly-established Northern Powerhouse Fund.
Neil Large, of the Sheffield office of law firm Lupton Fawcett, said Sheffield needed to be attractive – and able to woo big firms.
He added: “In this time of the Olympics we all know how hard it is to woo the Olympic Committee to make your city the host. Sheffield needs to capture some of that magic if it is to woo big firms while also keeping one eye on the other cities who also have strategies to land the same prize.”
Anthony Long, chief executive of Sheffield solicitors Taylor&Emmet LLP, said there was a pyramid of premiership firms and leading championship competitors, of which his firm was one, underpinned by smaller, Sheffield-based operations with a “long and proud heritage in the city”.
“There is no doubt Sheffield’s legal presence could be bigger. The city is often eclipsed by the vibrant commercial centres of Manchester and Leeds, but more than 20,000 students enrol in our two universities each year so there is no reason why we should not be busier.”
SHEFFIELD IS competing FOR BANKING AND LEGAL JOBS
* The council has contacted all top 100 legal firms to offer them the opportunity to relocate.
* HS2 and HS3 high speed rail services into the city centre will boost the sector
* The Cutlers’ Company has strong links with the City of London and can make introductions
* The British Business Bank is a strong statement that Sheffield can host top firms
* Accountants Grant Thornton are taking a prime city centre site in the former NUM HQ
* The city council and Sheffield University’s strong links with China could help the city become a gateway to Chinese investment across the North