In the last 5 to 10 years Canary Wharf, in London’s docklands, has become a magnet for the banking industry. With the move by US bank JPMorgan of 8,000 of their 10,000 staff in July this year to a 33 floor building at 25 Bank Street in Canary Wharf, formerly home of Lehman Brothers, the Wharf has now overtaken the City as the biggest employer of bankers.
Many banks still have their main offices in the City but the biggest employers such as Barclays, HSBC, Credit Suisse, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley are at Canary Wharf. FT research shows that the 16 biggest banks in the UK employ 44,500 in the new location and 43,000 in the Square Mile.
Watch the first 2.45 minutes of this documentary from Built Britain for a tour of Canary Wharf.
Why leave the City of London?
- The City’s period architecture meant that staff had to be housed in multiple buildings. Canary Wharf has a cluster of high rise buildings where all the staff from one company can be housed under one roof and can have their own canteen and gym facilities.
- Companies can expand rapidly without having to relocate.
- Vast open plan floors are well suited to trading rooms.
- The rents are one third cheaper.
- Crossrail will improve transport links to both places. It will connect the City, Canary Wharf, the West End and Heathrow Airport to commuter areas east and west of the capital. It will bring 1.5 million more people within a 45 minute commute of the West End, The City and Canary Wharf. Read more about Crossrail here
Other businesses in the City:
The London Stock Exchange
London Stock Exchange located at 10 Pator Noster Square, near St Pauls Cathedral, is one of the world’s oldest stock exchanges and started life in the coffee houses of 17th century London. The London Stock Exchange has produced detailed market information for companies and investors. It started as a twice-weekly paper publication for the London business community and through technological innovations has transformed into a continuous flow of electronic information to all the financial markets across the globe.
Over 680,000 trades a day are executed on the London Stock Exchange’s markets, giving a daily average value traded of £36 billion. Today it lies at the heart of the global financial community.
Also the City is home to the international reinsurance industry which is an important sector in financial services. The most important building for this industry is Lloyds of London, 1 Lime Street, the iconic Richard Rodgers building.
Lloyd’s is the world’s specialist insurance market where the members join together as syndicates to insure risks in over 200 countries. They have a network of global offices and settle claims on global disasters such as flooding, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, asbestos, pollution, terrorism, bloodstock, celebrity body parts, cyber crime, aviation and Costa Concordias.
Reinsurance accounting technicians and other support staff are based anywhere in the country where the rental on their workspace may well cost less than that for a waste paper bin in the City. Brokers go the The Room at Lloyds and meet the undertwriters at their boxes to place the risks.
For careers at Lloyds click here.
What will happen to the empty office space in the City?
There is a new generation of migrants to the city in the form of smaller technology and media companies. There is increasing demand from creative companies for space there and the old buildings with the rabbit like warren of corridors and smaller spaces are well suited to the accommodation of tech start ups ready to expand a little.
So will the Wharf Dwarf the City?
Canary Wharf has allowed the financial services companies to expand while staying close to the City. Canary Wharf Group is also targeting the tech companies that have sprung up around Silicon Roundabout and has recently introduced incubation space on the 39th floor of One Canada Square in order to attract fledgling tech companies.
Most property experts expect that the future of the City will lie more and more with companies that have nothing to do with financial services. Regardless, we need both areas to thrive and if both are encouraging technologically innovative companies this can only be good for the economy in the long term. Wondering if the Wharf will dwarf means we are spending too much time in the equivalent of chatting at the parish pump when we should be focusing on winning on the global stage.