A financial export is a business service provided by a domestic firm (regardless of ownership) to a foreign firm within the scope of financial services. While financial services are often seen as a domestic service (such as current accounts, mortgages, cashpoints, etc.) the growing international nature of finance means that many services are now being handled abroad or in financial centres, for a variety of reasons. Financial exports include a wide range of activities from insurance to banking and brokerage. Many smaller locations (such as Bermuda, Luxembourg, and the Cayman Islands) lack sufficient size for a domestic economy, thus requiring them to look abroad for markets. The increasing competitiveness of financial services has meant that many countries which were self-sufficient or protectionist have become increasingly reliant on financial service imports (such as the United States and Japan).
The United States, France, and Japan are all importers of financial services, whereas Switzerland and Germany both record modest surpluses. The leading financial exporter, in terms of exports - imports, is the United Kingdom, which had £19bn of financial exports in 2004, rising to £21bn in 2005. The UK's position is helped by both unique institutions (such as Lloyds of London for insurance, the Baltic Exchange for shipping, et cetera) and an environment that attracts foreign firms (all large US banks have offices and operations in the City of London/Docklands and/or Edinburgh).
- Giles, Chris (19 July 2005) 'City of London drives surge in UK financial exports' (London: Financial Times)
- Brewer, James (20 July 2005) 'Shipbrokers give UK a boom year boost' (London: Financial Times)
- Daneshkhu, Scheherazade (12 September 2005) 'Rise in exports of services masks industrial decline' (London: Financial Times)
- Chisholm, Jamie (5 January, 2005) 'UK services sector shows robust growth' (London: Financial Times)