FinTech envoys for Scotland appointed

David Ferguson, chief executive of Nucleus, the online financial adviser platform, and Louise Smith, head of design in personal and business banking at the Royal Bank of Scotland, have been appointed as the UK Government’s FinTech envoys for Scotland.

The announcement was made by Economic Secretary to the Treasury Simon Kirby who is visiting Edinbugh today. “I’m delighted that David and Louise have agreed to become the Government’s FinTech envoys for Scotland. Their in-depth knowledge of the industry and excellent reputations make them the right people to drive forward positive change and allow Scottish FinTech to flourish,” he said.

His visit to Edinburgh is the first of three he is making to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to showcase the importance that the Government places on developing the financial services hubs outside the UK capital.

After London, Scotland boasts the UK’s next two largest international financial hubs in Edinburgh and Glasgow. The sector contribute more than 7% of Scotland’s GDP and employs around 85,000 people, with a further 70,000 working in associated professional services.

FinTech is one of the highest growing parts of the UK economy, contributing £6.6bn to GDP in 2015 and employing over 61,000 people. It encompasses innovation in financial services including e-banking, payment technologies, peer-to-peer lending, crowdfunding, digital currencies like bitcoin, and ‘robo’ advice – automated investment advice delivered using algorithms.

Scotland has a number of large FinTech firms, such as Nucleus, LendingCrowd, The ID Company and Float. A Treasury press release said that introducing two FinTech envoys “will help to build a broader, supportive ecosystem that will support the overall growth of the sector”.

As the founder of Scotland’s most successful FinTech company and the executive with the knowledge of how banks undertake digital transformation, David Ferguson and Louise Smith are “well placed to propel Scotland’s ecosystem in to its next phase,” it said.

The Treasury said that Scotland’s FinTech sector is “brimming with commercial opportunity”; after London, Scotland turns out the most FinTech related graduates in the UK – 12% of the annual pool of 97,000 graduates. Edinburgh University is the largest informatics school in Europe and 35 per cent of all technology spin-out companies in the UK come from Scotland’s educational institutions.

While in Edinburgh, the Economic Secretary will also attend a roundtable hosted by Scottish Financial Enterprise, the representative body for Scotland’s financial services industry. The Treasury said that the Minister will use the roundtable as an opportunity to “discuss the challenges and opportunities of leaving the EU with Scottish business leaders; as well as reiterating the importance of working together as one United Kingdom”.