THE FU­TURE IS AL­READY HERE

The Herald Business - - Cover Story -

To the dewy-eyed, reared on a diet of strong­men wield­ing ham­mers in swel­ter­ing steel mills or min­ing black gold down pits, it is dif­fi­cult to see where the next wave of jobs will come from to re­place them– but the an­swers are all around us. The shim­mer­ing steel and glass tow­ers of the In­ter­na­tional Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Dis­trict (IFSD) on the banks of the Clyde in the heart of Glas­gow are the fu­ture. An eco­nomic re­view ear­lier this month said the IFSD was on course to at­tract 20,000 jobs and cre­ate 2m sq ft of grade “A” of­fice ac­com­mo­da­tion by 2011. About 650,000 sq ft of ac­com­mo­da­tion is al­ready un­der­way or about to start at eight sep­a­rate lo­ca­tions along the wa­ter­front. Fi­nan­cial ser­vices has been the pow­er­house of the econ­omy for the past decade and plays to Scot­tish strengths. An im­pres­sive list of blue chip com­pa­nies has taken ad­van­tage of the fi­nan­cial bene- fits of be­ing based in Glas­gow – it is about 50% cheaper to op­er­ate from the IFSD than the equiv­a­lent space in Lon­don. The big names in­clude First Data, ACE In­sur­ance, who joined com­pa­nies like Bar­clays Wealth, JP Morgan and Morgan Stan­ley. Peter Wood’s in­sur­ance ven­ture, es­ure, re­cently hired the10,000th em­ployee in the IFSD. And th­ese are not low­est com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor jobs. Many are man­age­ment and spe­cial­ist sup­port roles as­sist­ing UK and global op­er­a­tions and com­mand aboveav­er­age salaries.

world. Is it merely one part of the large – and at­trac­tive – UK of­fer­ing, or a sep­a­rate en­tity en­tirely? To what ex­tent is its com­pet­i­tive­ness de­pen­dent upon that of the rest of the UK, or the rest of the Euro­pean Union? Should it seek to deepen its re­la­tion­ship with the US, or turn its at­ten­tion to the new eco­nomic pow­er­houses of the East? Is its right­ful place as the west­ern link of the Baltic/Nordic trade route, or as the north­ern link of an An­glo-Ir­ish al­liance?

The script has cer­tainly changed and the new one is con­sid­er­ably more com­pli­cated but it can still have a happy end­ing.

Court­ney Fin­gar is ed­i­tor of For­eign Di­rect In­vest­ment mag­a­zine

Trade routes: A con­tainer ship leaves Ham­burg

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