Fig Norwich: The group aiming to link up Norwich’s £700m financial services sector
- Credit: Archant
The powerhouse financial services sector in Norwich has been urged to come together to make its voice heard through a revamped and refreshed industry body.
The Financial Industry Group Norwich – or Fig Norwich – hopes to act as a forum for the sector to drive up its profile, attract new talent and forge links with other growth areas.
It will bring together employers, local authorities and education providers to create a cluster recognised nationally as ranking alongside other regional financial centres such as Edinburgh and Liverpool.
At a business breakfast hosted at Norwich Business School at the University of East Anglia on Wednesday, the group launched its new website, fignorwich.org, and urged members of the sector to work together.
Prof Raphael Markellos of NBS, a Fig Norwich board member, said collaboration and communication between the cluster was key.
'We want to form a stronger identity of what we have in Norwich, and to attract new talent,' he said.
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'We feel strongly that we have the components of a powerful brand in Norwich and we want to let the world know about it.'
The financial services sector in Norwich employs more than 11,500 people and contributed a GVA of £713m through employment in 2015. Its history of expertise in insurance dates back more than 200 years.
Despite the presence of global heavyweights such as Aviva and Marsh, it has not banded together in the way that others in the city, such as the tech sector, have done.
Fig Norwich wants to form stronger bonds with tech firms, building upon the proliferation of fintech businesses in Norwich.
The new website includes a directory of employers in the sector, an events diary, and a job vacancies board.
Senior business lecturer Dr Kevan Williams said students were increasingly keen to engage with employers while still at university, and the UEA had responded by increasing the number of courses which included work placements.
'We have 3,500 students from 100 countries graduating every year,' he told guests. 'We spend a fortune recruiting them here and there's a danger that talent disappears because some of you are invisible.
'We have a global window into this phenomenal sector – please use it.'
Simon Lubbock, Natwest director of commercial banking in Norfolk, is a member of the board which has helped to drive Fig Norwich.
He said: 'I'm hoping it will create more of an identity for financial services as a cluster in the city.
'The website is a new tool to help businesses engage and improve links between others in the cluster. But there's also a bigger opportunity through things like staff succession and attracting new talent. People coming into financial services need different skills to those they needed in the past – communications skills are just as important as mathematics.'