Beyond bricks and mortar – the Bank’s commitment to Leeds

Infra Bank in Focus

Beyond bricks and mortar – the Bank’s commitment to Leeds

18 April 2024

By James Emmett, Chief Operating Officer

At the start of June, the Bank will move to a new office in Leeds city centre. For us, the significance of this goes way beyond bricks and mortar.

Signing a 15-year lease is symbolic of our commitment to Leeds and to being part of the formidable financial services ecosystem that is continuing to evolve here.

Throughout my 30-year career in financial services, I have worked in many cities, ranging from Hong Kong to New York, Istanbul to Geneva, and both London and Swindon! They all have their strengths and attractions. But what makes Leeds so brilliant as a working environment in financial services is the concentration of talent across so many key aspects– accounting, legal, consulting, audit, technology and digital - all within touching distance of each other. 

You can walk 10 minutes and be ensconced in the offices of a potential partner. The opportunities for collaboration from such close physical proximity are immense.  

Add  on Leeds’ excellent academic, cultural and sporting institutions, and go-ahead local and combined authorities, and it’s unsurprising that Cabinet Minister Michael Gove recently labelled the city ‘a key economic pillar not only of the North but the United Kingdom as a whole’, while the Sunday Times called Leeds the best place to live in the north and northeast of England.

Of course, it’s a two-way relationship. If the Bank benefits from all Leeds has to offer, we should give something back.

We moved into our current short-term office space in Leeds city centre nearly three years ago and, from day one, we have been acutely aware of our responsibilities to the city we call home. 

As we have recruited, we have been able to offer opportunities for career development to many highly skilled people across the West Yorkshire region, helping build up a reservoir of talent that should benefit the city region and its economy for many years to come.

And this approach has extended to our intern scheme, which will enter its third year in September, through which we offer young people a chance to gain invaluable experience across many aspects of our operations – from banking and investments, to audit and risk, to policy and communications. This can lead to employment with the Bank. We plan to extend this out to a graduate recruitment scheme soon.

Whilst we have modest offices in Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast and London, of our 248 permanent roles, 95% are contracted to work from our Leeds headquarters. 
The most challenging staff group to recruit to locally has been corporate and investment bankers. We’re realistic, we know the vast majority of this skillset is currently based in London.

But we are confident that, over time, we can help develop a skills base in these areas in Leeds. We have members of our Banking and Investments team who are relocating to Yorkshire to take advantage of the lifestyle and cultural benefits that Leeds brings. 

And our wider functional teams include many colleagues from Leeds, West Yorkshire and the north more broadly.  Indeed, for those wanting to recruit technology and digital talent, I highly recommend Leeds, having had an overwhelmingly strong response to recent adverts for senior tech and ops roles.

We are also playing an active role in the development of the city. Noting Leeds is the largest city in Europe without a mass transit system, our local authority advisory service has supported West Yorkshire Combined Authority in exploring financial and commercial models to deliver this much needed infrastructure.  We are excited by the recent vision for Leeds published jointly by the Government, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, and Leeds City Council, and the opportunities that this brings: A vision for Leeds: a decade of city centre growth and wider prosperity. Indeed, that report is the source of the Michael Gove quote earlier in this blog.

And casting the net a bit wider, we have been working with Bradford Council on its proposed Southern Gateway train station, which will also bring connectivity benefits to Leeds, provide a massive regeneration opportunity, and support economic growth in the region more widely – the point here being that we recognise the need to contribute to the wider West Yorkshire ecosystem.

To return to our impending move to office space at Whitehall Quay in Leeds, this is the next step in our evolution as we move out of our interim space, in line with our initial set-up plans which recognised we would need more space as we grew.  This new office will enable us to accommodate our colleagues now that we have clarity on our steady state business needs, and to continue our co-location with the Low Carbon Credits Company and National Infrastructure Commission.

We are really excited to be making this move. But what we are even more excited about is that the bricks and mortar will give us the foundation to play a role in the development of such a vibrant, innovative and energetic city for many years to come.

Read our news story about our office move.