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A global player aiming for a local impact
The health of the financial services sector is key to the health of the Scottish economy
Business & Economy

A global player aiming for a local impact 

Scottish Financial Enterprise’s five-year strategy features a series of ambitious proposals

The financial services industry is vital to Sottish economic growth, employing about 160,000 people across the country in a range of sectors, including banking, life and pensions, insurance, investment management and related professional services.

For many years, Scotland has been known for its financial services brands in traditional areas, such as pensions, and in more recent times, it has built a succesful financial technology (fintech) sector supported by an expanding ecosystem.

In May, Scottish Financial Enterprise (SFE) unveiled its five-year strategy for the sector, including a number of proposals to drive collaboration across the industry and with the Scottish and UK governments.

SFE said the strategy represents an industry with a global footprint and one which aims to have a truly local and meaningful impact. Its proposals cover four key areas: leading the journey to net zero; supporting economic recovery; responding to changing customer needs and developing skills and inclusion.

Sandy Begbie, SFE chief executive, said: “The financial and professional services industry is well placed to be successful, but we need to attract inward investment, support innovation, and develop the skills and employment base required to build on Scotland’s reputation as a leading global financial centre.”

The strategy was welcomed by both the Scottish and UK governments.

Ivan McKee, Scottish Government Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, said he was pleased to support this ambitious industry-led strategy for the sector’s future.

Iain Stewart, UK Government Minister for Scotland, said real challenges lie ahead as the country recovers from the pandemic and it will continue to work closely with the Scottish government and key partners, including SFE, to “build back better and greener and level up every part of the UK”.

Sara Thiam, chief executive officer of the Sottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI), said: “The health of the financial services sector is key to the health of the Scottish economy, so it is encouraging to see economic recovery, skills and inclusion at the centre of this new strategy.

“Our Manifesto for Clean Growth highlighted the leadership role financial services can take in measuring their performance against social and environmental criteria and in developing new financial products to support investment in net zero solutions.”

Fraser Wilson, financial services leader, PwC Scotland, said: “Whether the increasing reliance on technology, the climate agenda or a focus on inclusion, the proposals in Scotland’s Financial Services Strategy ensure our industry can have a positive impact both locally and internationally.

“It is a bold, far-reaching strategy that frames the financial services industry’s role in the economic recovery within the context of a rapidly changing society.

“Increasing collaboration to help deliver on the recommendations will help drive a sustainable recovery by creating jobs, developing skills, attract- ing inward investment and creating an environment where innovation can flourish.”

In August last year, a Scottish Government-commissioned review of the Scottish tech ecosystem was published by Mark Logan, former chief operating officer at Skyscanner – Scotland’s first unicorn – and professor of computing science at the University of Glasgow. The generally well-received recommendations from the review were primarily concerned with stimulating and accelerating the maturity of Scotland’s ‘technology ecosystem’, including fintech.

The review identified three fundamental supporting areas upon which the performance of the ecosystem depends: education and talent, infrastructure and funding. It also presented 34 recommendations, including a ‘tech-scaler national backbone’ and a ‘foundational talent pipeline’.

And in March this year, as a result of the review, Professor Logan was appointed to lead a new programme to establish Scotland as a world-class technology hub.

It is encouraging to see economic recovery, skills and inclusion at the centre of this new strategy

The programme is being delivered with £7 million of Scottish Government funding in its first year and will include a £1m fund to make ‘strategic investments’ in organisations and activities. This £1m million ‘ecosystem fund’ could see investment granted to tech conferences, meet-ups or training programmes which support the Scottish start-up ecosystem.

Progress with the hub is being supported by an experienced advisory board, including: Lesley Eccles, founder and chief executive of HelloRelish and co-founder of gaming platform Fanduel; Roan Lavery, co-founder of online accounting firm FreeAgent; Sarah Ronald, founder of Nile HQ service design agency; and Stephen Ingledew, executive chair of FinTech Scotland

The Scottish Government’s Secretary for Finance and the Economy, Kate Forbes, said at the time of its launch: “From attracting young people into computing science to supporting a community of high-growth businesses, this programme of work will be critical in determining the future contribution of Scotland’s tech sector to our economic recovery.”

Climate Solutions to help businesses respond to climate change

Climate change will increasingly define this next decade for businesses and policy makers, impacting every aspect of business operations. It makes sense to ensure every manager is prepared and has a minimum basic knowledge of this critical and wide-reaching issue. Thanks to a collaboration between the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS), University of Edinburgh, University of Stirling, and Institute of Directors (IoD) Scotland, this has been made as easy as possible, with the launch of a new online course, Climate Solutions.

As part of the course, RSGS interviewed Mark Carney, UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance, and former Governor of the Bank of England, who stated: “Every business is going to have to ask themselves, and should be asking themselves, how will climate change affect my business today, tomorrow, and in the decades ahead, and what am I doing about it? What am I doing to adjust?”

Climate Solutions addresses the many questions business leaders and managers may have, such as ‘What does it mean for our business?’, ‘How do we respond?’, ‘How can we plan and prepare?’, and ‘What are the risks and opportunities?’

Climate Solutions provides a quick, simple, and rounded introduction to the fundamentals of climate change, helping explain how everyone and every organisation can play a role to reduce their emissions, and informing businesses and organisations so they can better plan and predict future trends, legislation, and change. It focuses on the need-to-know information, and most importantly, outlines the key solutions managers can implement to respond to climate change.

Climate Solutions features contributions from high-profile names including Mark Carney, Kofi Annan, Christiana Figueres, the former Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC and one of the Architects of the Paris Climate Agreement, and Greta Thunberg, the Swedish climate activist.

Climate change expert and chief executive of RSGS, Mike Robinson, is the innovator behind the course which, in simple terms, aims to “raise awareness of the issue in a straightforward, time-efficient way”.

Any organisation which does not understand the issue is at severe risk of losing competitiveness

Mike added: “With this new course, I want to de-mystify climate change and help point the way so that everyone has a basic understanding of the issues and solutions. This course will help businesses become more robust, as sustainability and sustainable practices will become an increasingly important expectation from shareholders, staff and customers alike.”

Christiana Figueres added: “Any organisation which does not understand the issue is at severe risk of losing competitiveness and even becoming obsolete.”

Climate Solutions is offered in two ways: Climate Solutions Professional and Climate Solutions Accelerator.

Climate Solutions Professional

Climate Solutions Professional consists of four online modules lasting two to three hours long. The four online modules will short-cut vast amounts of literature and learning, provide a good basic understanding of the science, and focus on the minimum essential information needed to respond.

On completion of the modules, participants will attend an online workshop delivered by expert project partners, in which participants will start to develop the Climate Action Plan for their business.

On completion of the course, participants will receive a certificate evidencing their personal and organisational commitment to climate change. The cost is £300 including VAT per person.

Climate Solutions accelerator

The Climate Solutions Accelerator course is for those short on time and lasts just 90 minutes. Managers will learn direct from the world’s leading experts the practical solutions they can implement to help tackle climate change.

On completion of the course, managers will receive a personalised RSGS certificate. The cost is £120 including VAT per person.

Sign up for the course

To sign up please visit www.rsgs.org/climate-solutions or to find out more visit www.climatesolutionsnetwork.com

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