DORSET has been urged to celebrate its financial services industry at the launch of a government plan to promote the sector along the south coast.

Andrea Leadsom, economic secretary to the treasury, was at JPMorgan in Bournemouth for the launch of the South Coast Financial Centre of Excellence.

The initiative will see UK Trade & Investment promoting the area as a place to start or grow financial services businesses.

“Of the two million employees in financial services, two out of three of them live outside the M25.

“Financial services isn’t all about London,” she told the Echo.

She said the centre of excellence would help build momentum in the industry and would encourage ‘near-shoring’ – bringing work to the UK regions that had previously been outsourced abroad or done in London.

Following several well-documented scandals involving financial institutions in the City, she said: “The reality is that the vast majority of people in financial services just do an honest day’s work and always have done and wouldn’t dream of taking part in any dishonesty.

“The problem is it’s been overshadowed by the appalling actions of a few.”

She pointed to initiatives such as JPMorgan’s apprenticeship scheme and its policy of giving staff time off to volunteer in the community.

“I certainly think we all need to really make an effort to not tar everybody with the same brush,” she added.

She told the audience at JPMorgan: “This is the first of a series of five UK regions that we will be marketing as destinations outside of London for financial services.”

Marc Garvin, vice-chairman of JPMorgan Corporate and Investment Bank, said three million transactions a day were processed through the operation at Chaseside.

“No one could have imagined the breadth and scale of what takes place here in Bournemouth when this centre was inaugurated almost 30 years ago,” he said.

“This office plays an often unseen but critical role in the global financial eco system and also in our local community.”

Bournemouth council leader Cllr John Beesley said financial services were one of the major elements of the local economy.

“In terms of Bournemouth it has an impact of somewhere over £1bn and employs somewhere just short of 11,000 people,” he said.

“The stability that has created underpins much of that we’ve tried to do.”