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geography of financial services


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Mergers, acquisitions, and takeovers, online and phone banking databases of customers' credit rating, and the central processing of cheques have radically altered the spatial distribution of providers of financial services. The 1990s saw a 28% fall in the number of UK bank branches (French et al. (2008) Antipode 40, 1). The spatial implications of these changes have been: disproportionately more bank closures in less affluent areas; a shift in central business district land use from financial services to restaurants and bars; and the development of call centres. Bristow et al. (2000) Env. & Plan. A 32, 3 note the propensity to site call centres close to existing concentrations of allied activity, with preferences for densely populated areas mediated by needs to maintain employee access and avoid staff turnover problems: ‘this has important implications for the spatial division of labour, with call centre growth likely to reinforce existing spatial unevenness in employment in key service activities.’ See Sokol (2007) Growth and Change 38, 2 on ‘spaces of flows’ and ‘flows of value’ in the geography of financial services.

Interestingly, Argent (2003) Bureau Rural Sci., Canberra, on financial services in rural and remote areas of Australia, reports that a diverse range of service modes, from face-to-face branches to virtual banking, has helped to reduce potential financial exclusion. Wojcik (2007) Soc. Sci. Res. Network confirms the leading position of the UK in international finance. London, for example, has four distinct clusters of financial services: a very cohesive City of London cluster featuring banks, insurance, auxiliary finance, law, and recruitment firms; a less cohesive West End cluster, with distinctive cluster zones, such as banks near Mayfair, and advertising in Soho; an incipient general cluster north of the City of London featuring architecture, and business support; and the law cluster that straddles the City of London and the West End (Corporation of London 2003). See Faulconbridge (2004) Area 36, 3 on Frankfurt and London.

Subjects: Earth Sciences and Geography.


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