OVERSEAS investors backed fewer financial services projects in Scotland last year although the country remained the second most attractive location in the UK experts have found.

Accountancy giant EY found Scotland attracted seven foreign direct investments in the financial services sector in 2017, compared with nine the preceding year.

North West England drew level with Scotland after winning two more investments than in 2016.

However, EY’s Head of Financial Services in Scotland, Sue Dawe said: “Scotland has once again proved its credentials as an attractive destination for foreign direct investment.”

She added: “It is worth noting the size of projects is healthy with Glasgow and Edinburgh the only two UK locations to attract projects with more than 200 jobs.”

EY said Scotland secured 649 jobs from the projects approved last year, against 199 from the 2016 investments.

Scotland had ranked second in every year from 2014.

London led with 47 projects last year, against 73 in 2016.

The number of UK projects fell to 78 from a record 106.

Ms Dawe said the significant fall in financial services FDI provided a reminder of the challenge ahead in terms of remaining attractive to investors. Greater clarity around Brexit will be vitally important.

Glasgow and Edinburgh tied as the third most attractive UK city for FDI last year, with Manchester on second.

EY did not identify any of the FDI projects included in the analysis.

A report from TheCityUK last week found the number of jobs in the financial and related professional industries in Scotland grew by 6.6 per cent in 2016, to 161,000. London workforce numbers rose by 5% .