MORE than 11,000 jobs and a £1billion slice of the economy depend on the future of the financial services sector in Bournemouth and Poole, a study has revealed.

One expert has warned that Dorset could be hit hard if even a small proportion of the industry's jobs are lost as a result of the Brexit deal.

Major international employers such as JP Morgan and Barclays form a key part of the county’s economy, as well as domestic names such as Nationwide and LV= and a host of smaller businesses.

A study by TheCityUK found that 11,760 people were directly employed in financial services in Bournemouth and Poole. When related professional services were counted, the figure rose to 18,210.

The sector was worth £1.14bn, rising to £1.33bn when related professional services were added in.

Professor Jens Holscher, head of department in accounting, finance and economics at Bournemouth University, said financial services were “enormously important” to the area and that many people did not realise how many the sector employed.

“Even if only a small proportion are going to move somewhere else, then the loss in purchasing power for the region will be quite remarkable,” he said.

“Some organisations have already announced that they will move parts but there’s no estimate of the impact because we don’t know what deal Mrs May will get from the EU.

“I think that’s the reason why we don’t have an estimate of how big it will be but I think it’s clearly negative for our region.”

Miles Celic, chief executive of TheCityUK, said: “Our report reinforces the value delivered by financial and related professional services to the whole of the UK economy.

"Firms from across the world come to Britain to do business, many first putting down roots in London and then expanding their operations across the country, to cities like Bournemouth and Poole, creating a deeper talent pool of skilled workers that benefits local and national businesses.

“In turn, strong regional financial centres like those in the South West boost the attractiveness of London as a global financial centre. Maintaining this ecosystem is critical to ensuring the UK remains a world-leading place to do business.”

The report says the UK could benefit from some developments in the industry, including digital technology and “reverse-offshoring” – the process of back office functions returning to the UK as costs come down.

But Prof Holscher was sceptical that these could outweigh the possible impact of Brexit.

He said: “JP Morgan employ about 4,000 people in Bournemouth. If they move a big proportion to Dublin or Luxembourg or wherever, it will not be compensated by some businesses moving here from Guernsey.”