A NEW initiative to help keep the South West region as a major centre for the financial services sector will be launched at a conference later this month.

Around 100 employers will attend the conference at The Exchange in Bridgwater next Thursday to discuss the threats to the financial services sector, which is a major contributor to the region’s economy.

They will be representing insurance companies, banks, building societies and independent financial advisers that are among the region’s biggest employers.

The conference, organised by the National Skills Academy for Financial Services will address some of the main factors affecting business risk as well as looking at ways to retain jobs in the sector in the South West.

Some 87,000 people work in the sector, which makes up almost 4% of the work in Bristol, Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire.

But many people have been made redundant in recent years and others are under threat of redundancy.

The conference will see the launch of the South West Talent Retention Scheme to help save jobs in the region Nigel Benton, Executive Director of the National Skills Academy for Financial Services, said: “Cities such as Bristol and Bournemouth rely heavily on the financial services sector. The South West Talent Retention Scheme is aimed at keeping this vital part of the economy thriving.

“At its heart is an online vacancy system designed to promote the skills of individuals and help employers find talent and keep it in the region.”

Demand for the conference has been growing following the success of a similar event in February 2010. Delegates will discuss issues that affect the sector, including political, economic and regulatory pressures.

The keynote address will be delivered by Oliver Kamm, chief economics leader writer for The Times and former investment banker.

The National Skills Academy for Financial Services is an independent employer-led charitable organisation dedicated to growing talent and building professionalism in the UK financial services industry.

The South West Talent Retention Scheme, which has launched www.talentretentionfs.co.uk was funded by the South West Regional Development Agency to support the financial services sector in the region.