By Dr Laura Davison, Head of Research at the Economic Development Office, City of London Corporation
My previous blog (28/09/2017) highlighted how important a role the UK’s large financial services (FS) firms play in generating turnover – with the 115 FS firms with more than £1 billion turnover generating 88% of the sector’s turnover. This week, I’m looking at how important a role large firms play in employment, using new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which lets us look at really large businesses – those employing many thousands of people.
To put financial services in context using the new Business Register and Employment Survey data (BRES), there were 1.06 million financial services jobs in Great Britain in 2016 – 3.5% of employment. Nearly two thirds of these – 663K (63%) were based outside of London. Financial services grew by 26.5K jobs in the year to 9th September 2016 – 2.6% growth, compared with 1.6% growth across all sectors; this represented 5.5% of the net jobs growth across Great Britain.
So, financial services plays a significant role in the UK’s economy. What part do the very largest firms play within this? Most forms of reporting define large firms as those employing 250 or more people. A new ONS dataset lets us look at much bigger firms – those who employ over 15K people, and those who employ between 3K and 14,999 people. 
Across the UK, 130 firms employed more than 15,000 people in 2016; 10 of these were financial services firms (0.02% of all financial services firms). These 10 firms collectively employed 32% of the UK’s financial services roles, providing 328K jobs.
Although this represents a very high concentration of jobs in large firms, two other sectors are even more concentrated in their very largest (15K+ employees) firms – retail (48%), and public administration and defence (40%). For other sectors, this concentration is a lot lower – and in areas such as professional services, construction, property, and arts, there are no such firms listed.
Looking at the next level of businesses – those employing between 3K and 14,999 employees, there were a further 40 FS firms with between, collectively accounting for 21% of FS jobs. As the chart below shows, then, collectively 50 FS firms account for over half of the UK’s FS employees – some 539K jobs.
 NB ONS counts are rounded to the nearest five.
 Though as counts are rounded to the nearest five, there may be one or two in practice.