Main area of focus

Location factors in NRW

Strength in diversity

A dynamic and decentralised economy in NRW

North Rhine-Westphalia is a key commercial and financial centre in Germany and Europe with innovative and export-oriented companies and a creative start-up scene. Many foreign companies and international banks have set up offices here. North Rhine-Westphalia is at the heart of Europe. Over 160 million people live within a radius of 500 km of the federal state capital Düsseldorf – more than one third of all consumers in the European Union. There is no other location in Europe from which it is possible to reach so many people within such short distances.

NRW is an important location for banks and insurance companies

NRW is home to the most important banking centre in Germany after Frankfurt and is a leading insurance hub. The financial sector is of central importance for NRW and one of the driving forces behind the sustainable and digital transformation. One of NRW’s great strengths as a financial centre is the sheer diversity of new and established companies not only from the financial sector but also from the real economy, start-ups and science as well as its proximity to policymakers. As the sixth-largest regional economy in the EU and home to many companies with a strong focus on exporting, NRW offers potential in both B2C and B2B markets and is one of the most attractive locations for investors.


According to a location comparison by the Financial Times, NRW is one of the most attractive regions in Germany and in Europe (fDi’s Large European Regions of the Future 2020/21 – FDI Strategy):

  1. North Rhine-Westphalia
  2. Flanders
  3. Scotland
Eine nachts beleuchtete Großstadt mit Fluss.

Finance system demonstrates clear advantages

Fit with economic structure is elementary

The ‘fit’ of the financial sector with the economic structure, an outstanding selection and good conditions are all of crucial importance for companies and citizens alike. The North Rhine-Westphalian real economy is large, innovative, international and stable. Various analyses underscore the advantages of the customer-centric finance system – particularly with regard to lending. From a macroeconomic perspective, the three different ownership structures – known in the banking industry as the ‘three-pillar model’ – also lend particularly great stability.

  • High population density, a leading business centre (e.g. chemical industry, supplier industry), science location (68 universities and other higher education institutions, including two elite universities and ten excellence clusters), strong industry, mid-sized companies and ‘hidden champions’.
  • Concentration of banks and a leading insurance centre in Germany: banking centre in Düsseldorf, insurance centre in Cologne, other financial service providers based in Münster, Dortmund and many other cities in NRW; vibrant start-up scene with fintechs and insurtechs.
  • NRW has a cosmopolitan reputation; Düsseldorf is a major centre for the Asian community. Over 20,000 foreign companies have already invested in NRW and are using it as a base for their activities in Germany or Europe.

Facts and figures: NRW as a financial centre

Banking location

(Source: Deutsche Bundesbank)


billion euros in transaction volume
(2021; +12.6% on previous year)



billion euros in loans
to non-banks (2021; +4%)


billion euros in loans

to investments by non-banks (2021; +18.6)

48 billion euros
in foreign direct investments (2020; +23.2%)

248 banks
(2021; –13.0%, due to digitalisation and concentration)

Approx. 130,082 employees
(2021; –0.5% for the same reasons)

Largest German banking location
after Frankfurt, banking centre in Düsseldorf

Insurance location

(Source: NRW insurance industry, 2019)


billion euros capital volume in NRW
(27.4% of German insurance companies’ capital assets)


billion euros in investments
in renewable energies:
A third of all wind energy plants in Germany are insured by an insurer from NRW: that is more than 9,000 wind energy plants


million euros
investments in start-ups

Over 114,000 employees in NRW:
76,000 dependent and 38,000 independent brokers/advisors (highest number in any German federal state)

NRW is the largest insurance location in Germany;
Cologne is a leading German location

Core findings of the Prognos study (2021)

103 insurance companies are located in NRW. A total of 115,000 people work at companies and in the sector, including 75,000 dependent employees. Insurance companies also create demand and employment at their suppliers – the insurance sector as a whole is responsible for over 190,000 jobs in NRW.

NRW insurance companies account for 44 per cent of the German market based on gross premiums. In all lines of insurance, NRW companies cover at least a quarter of all German insurance products. Health insurance is particularly well represented in NRW. Gross value added for the insurance sector is 10 million euros. This corresponds to 1.7 per cent of total gross value added for North Rhine-Westphalia. This means that the insurance industry is around the same size as the electrical industry (14 billion euros) or automotive production (9 billion euros).

Links to the topic

Börsen-, Sparkassen-, Versicherungsaufsicht in NRW

Deutsche Bundesbank: Der Finanzplatz der Zukunft

Die 10 besten Standortfaktoren für NRW

EU: Banken und Finanzen

Foreign Direct Investments (FDI): Nordrhein-Westfalen erzielt 2021 Rekordwachstum bei ausländischen Direktinvestitionen

NRW als Investitionsstandort Nr. 1

Prognos-Studie: Nordrhein-Westfalen ist größter Versicherungsstandort Deutschlands

Further topics

Main areas of focus

More on Location factors in NRW


Planned events relating to sustainable and digital transformation can be found in our event calendar. We look forward to seeing you there!

to the events


In the news blog, you will find the latest information and reports on past events on digital transformation and how it is financed.

to the news

Cooperation partners

Further information on this topic is available from our cooperation partners.

to the cooperation partners]