Sturgeon embraces finance sector with new board

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Financial Enterprise chair Philip Grant are to co-chair a “refocussed” national board to “ensure the crucial role of financial and related professional services in accelerating economic recovery and transforming Scotland into a global centre of excellence for green finance.”

The new Financial Services Growth and Development Board will have its first meeting on Monday, January 17, and replaces the outgoing Financial Services Advisory Board as “the main forum for discussion between the Scottish Government and industry leaders in the financial and related professional services sector.”

The Financial Services Growth and Development Board will meet on a quarterly basis.

Its membership includes many of the leaders of Scotland’s asset management firms, pension firms, banking groups, insurance firms and professional services companies.

The board membership includes Stephen Bird of Abrdn, Malcolm Buchanan of NatWest, Andy Curran of Phoenix Group, Gerry Mallon of Tesco Bank, Eilidh McTaggart of Scottish National Investment Bank, Barry O’Dwyer of Royal London, Sandy Begbie of Scottish Financial Enterprise, Maggie Craig of the Financial Conduct Authority, Andy Curran of Phoenix Group, Sue Dawe of EY, Philip Grant of Lloyds Banking Group, Louisa Knox of Shepherd & Wedderburn, Angus Macpherson of Noble Group, Claire Reid of PwC, Alastair Ross of ABI, Vida Rudkin of Morgan Stanley, Koral Anderson of Barclays and Nicola Anderson of Fintech Scotland.

Financial and related professional services is the biggest sectoral contributor to Scotland’s economy at £13 billion or 9.4% of gross value added (GVA) — and the sector employs around 160,000 people directly.

The Scottish financial sector’s exports account for 40% of all Scottish services exports.

“The industry’s contribution to the board will be led by Scottish Financial Enterprise (SFE), the industry body for financial and related professional services in Scotland with representatives from each of the sectors across the entire industry,” said the Scottish Government.

“The reshaped forum will have a clear focus on advising Scottish Ministers on areas of priority relating to the financial industry and align closely with SFE’s five-year strategy published last year …

“The Financial Services Growth and Development Board will be outcome focussed, fostering greater collaboration between government and the financial and related professional services sector in order to fully harness its significant contribution toward sustainable economic growth.”

Sturgeon said: “As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must work together to seize Scotland’s potential and build a recovery for everyone which delivers greater, greener and fairer prosperity.

“Financial and related professional services will play a key role in this process, from supporting businesses and households through economic recovery to facilitating the investment that will underpin a just transition to net zero.

“I look forward to working with the Financial Services Growth and Development Board to create new opportunities for growth and development in communities across Scotland.”

Philip Grant, SFE Chair and Chair of Lloyds Banking Group’s Scottish Executive Committee, said: “The establishment of the Financial Services Growth and Development Board marks an important step in SFE’s clear desire to work more closely with Government in the interests of our members, the broader industry, and the communities we represent.

“SFE and the financial and related professional services industry is focussed on having a meaningful and positive impact at local level and we want to ensure that our strategy helps to deliver real benefits to all people in households and businesses across Scotland, with no-one left behind.

“This is a vision that aligns closely with the priorities of the Scottish government so we welcome this new channel for regular dialogue, which will amplify our voice and enable us to better collaborate where there is common ground and challenge where there is disagreement.”

SFE chief executive Sandy Begbie said: “The establishment of this board comes at a timely moment in our sectoral ambition to support an accelerated green economic recovery. Scotland faces significant challenges with economic growth stalling and a cost-of-living crisis affecting households across the country.

“Financial and related professional services have a central role to play in helping to mitigate these challenges and create new opportunities for growth and development, and I’m confident that if we do, Scotland has all ingredients to thrive in 2022 and beyond.”