Ohio’s financial sector is the state’s quiet giant

From an outside perspective, there is little awareness of the size and strength of Ohio’s financial sector. However, once a conversation begins regarding the organizations that have chosen to headquarter here, people are surprised.

Terry Gore, director of financial services at JobsOhio, says Ohio’s financial sector is the second-largest sector in the state and the sixth-largest financial sector in the U.S., providing a home for a blend of insurance, payments, asset management and banking companies that include Progressive Corp., Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., Fifth Third Bank, KeyBank, Huntington Bank and Worldpay.

“With the growing focus on financial technology, to take advantage of a pipeline of well-educated tech-savvy talent and an advantageous cost of doing business, Ohio’s financial sector is sure to generate more conversations,” he says.

Smart Business spoke with Gore about Ohio’s financial sector and the impact it has on other Ohio businesses and industries.

Why is Ohio’s financial sector succeeding?

Ohio’s financial sector is benefiting from the advantageous business climate, East Coast time zone and its ability to tap into the readily available stream of talent — over 200 higher educational institutions across the state. Ohio has more than 170,000 students graduating annually, providing a pipeline of increasingly tech-savvy talent.

Ohio also has a very reasonable cost of doing business compared to other top financial centers. Ohio’s talented, loyal workforce provides a great deal of value to employers when compared to a workforce in New York City or other higher-cost locations.

Another key factor is the level of collaboration in the state. Regulators are collaborating with businesses on solving sector challenges, and everyone is partnering with education. That creates a welcoming and business-friendly environment.

The sector is also being strengthened by fintech activity, which is, in part, a recognition that the ways in which business is done today requires reassessment. Ohio is ahead of the curve in terms of the innovation value proposition. Recently, a number of Ohio stakeholders have come together to support fintech innovation through the nonprofit accelerator, Fintech71. With its mission to attract the most-innovative fintech startups and connect them with the top financial services companies in the world, it has the potential to grow Ohio’s talent and innovation pipeline.

What opportunities does a stronger financial services sector offer to the state?

The companies that comprise Ohio’s financial sector — representing some of the strongest brands in the country — and their success highlight the strength of the state’s economy and its level of sophistication. The sector’s health and vitality create a spillover effect of greater investment in Ohio communities and increased job creation.

A well-functioning, robust financial services sector provides the glue that holds the economy together and helps it grow. When done right, financial products and services enable both individuals and businesses to protect and grow their prosperity, and are impacting communities by helping advance the mission of each individual, entrepreneur, and small and large business.

The sector is also a pipeline of well-educated talent — be it in accounting, marketing or technology — to the other sectors of the local economy.

How does a strong financial services sector benefit other Ohio businesses?

Proximity to customers and markets affects the custom value proposition. Having financial institutions here and partnering with them directly provides a feedback loop between them and other businesses, enabling them to work together to capitalize on opportunities and overcome challenges.

Ohio is an excellent representation of what America is about, what regular people want, need and care for. This creates the possibility for banks, insurance companies and other financial services providers to customize their products and services without going far, to know that it would create value to individuals, communities and businesses. Ohio and its people are the primary beneficiary of such collaboration.

Insights Economic Development is brought to you by JobsOhio