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When it comes to hiring, London is still king. But there’s no doubt that other cities are starting to vie for its crown.

Wealth managers were beginning to spread themselves more evenly across our green and pleasant land before Covid-19, but this trend has been accelerated by the lockdowns. Office footprints continue to shift, this time in response to our new flexible-working world.

Extinguishing the big smoke

We looked at the hiring trends of the top 40 UK wealth managers by assets under management (according to PAM) over the last 12 months. In London, with more than 1200 people hired, the capital takes the top spot for growth.

For more than half of PAM’s top 40 wealth managers, hiring is growing the most in the city. But snapping at its heels are Edinburgh (five firms’ fastest-growing location) and the West Midlands (four firms’ fastest-growing location), closely

followed by Leeds and Glasgow. Milton Keynes and Nottingham also make it into the fast-growth list. So, how long can London keep its crown?

When the pandemic was merely a glint in a bat’s eye, we were helping wealth managers build their regional offices. Now we’ve all become used to our teams being spread far and wide, the data suggests less of a need for London-based staff.

Forward-thinking wealth managers seem to be reducing the footprint of their London offices and investing in decent regional hubs instead. Brown Shipley have opened an office in Nottingham, James Hambro & Partners have set up operations in Leeds and Brewin Dolphin has set up in Gatwick: 83 percent of the top 40 now have regional offices.


A balanced future

There is media speculation about an exclusively WFH future. We think it’s more likely that firms will balance a more regional way of working with some WFH days.

It’s important to keep some personal contact between teams, lines of communication will inevitably have been disrupted by our home working, plus the demand for Friday pints with colleagues in one of the City’s finest is too great to cancel


But a more regional focus will enable weary senior managers to catch a little more rest, and juniors in shared housing in Clapham to find more space further out.

Clients too will benefit from a more regional approach, as many may be reluctant to travel into London for the

foreseeable future and would feel more comfortable driving to their nearest hub to meet their investment manager.

We don’t think that London is in any immediate danger of losing its title of financial services king but there’s undoubtedly continued and growing evidence that wealth managers are spreading themselves more evenly throughout the country, to the benefit of staff and clients alike.

Stephenson Executive Search is a headhunting firm and operates throughout the UK, building teams for investment managers from Glasgow to Bath.

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