Trade body Scottish Financial Enterprise (SFE) has launched “Scotland’s new vision for financial services: a sector growth strategy using our technology and ecosystem advantage.”
The plan aims to unlock another £7 billion of Gross Value Added (GVA) for the Scottish economy by 2028.
And SFE has set a target for Scotland’s financial services sector to reach £1 trillion of assets under management by 2030.
Scotland’s two largest asset management firms are Abrdn and Baillie Gifford.
Abrdn manages and administers £495.7 billion of assets, and its investments business manages £368 billion on behalf of clients – including insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds, independent wealth managers, pension funds, platforms, banks and family offices.
Baillie Gifford has about £230 billion under management and advice.
SFE said its strategy has been developed in collaboration with City of London Corporation, TheCityUK, FinTech Scotland and the Global Ethical Finance Initiative, and is supported by both the Scottish and UK governments.
Financial and related professional services are already the largest contributor to the Scottish economy, adding around £14.3 billion GVA annually.
The industry directly employs around 136,000 people, with many thousands more in the supply chain, and with salaries a third higher than the average wage in Scotland.
“Industry leaders believe Scotland is uniquely well placed to respond to the key trends shaping the future of the industry, including the growth in green and sustainable finance and fintech, and the rise of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence,” said SFE.
“The strategy aims to harness Scotland’s immense human capital to fuel innovation and fill skills gaps, enhance Scotland’s capability as a key regional technology hub and develop Scotland’s finance ecosystem to drive transformation and attract investment.”
SFE said its plan sets out clear targets, which the sector plans to achieve through a set of actions focused on collaboration, communication, and technological innovation, including growing GVA from £14.3 billion to £17-£21 billion in five years and increasing assets under management in Scotland’s financial services sector to £1 trillion by 2030.
It also plans to propel Scotland “to the top regional financial centres globally, as measured by the Global
Financial Centres Index” and to make sure that Edinburgh reaches a position of being among the top 20 global financial centres, with Glasgow in the top 30.
SFE CEO Sandy Begbie said: “Achieving sustainable, inclusive, economic growth is vital if we are to create more of the high-wage, high-skill jobs our country needs to raise living standards and properly fund public services.
“Financial services must be at the heart of this ambition. Scotland’s world-class finance ecosystem is an essential pillar of our economy, and we believe there is even greater potential just waiting to be unleashed.
“Our sector growth strategy will unleash that potential and deliver long-term sustainable growth, and we are determined to make sure that everyone in Scotland feels the benefits.”
Richard Lochhead MSP, Minister for Small Business, Trade and Innovation, said: “Scotland’s financial services sector is one of our prized industries, offering significant opportunities for economic growth and attracting further investment.
“SFE’s new, ambitious growth strategy sets these opportunities out clearly and is a significant vote of confidence in Scotland as a place to do business.
“By capitalising on our great strengths, and continuing to develop our innovative approach in emerging areas such as fintech and data, the coming years present an exciting time for the sector to play a leading role in growing a prosperous economy for everyone.”
Douglas Ross MP MSP, Scottish Conservative Leader, said: “I’m delighted to welcome this innovative programme for Scotland’s financial sector, which makes such a crucial contribution to our economy.
“A large part of that comes from the huge advantages of being part of the United Kingdom, with its world-leading record in financial services, but within the UK the Scottish sector is the largest outside London.
“SFE have proposed a wide-ranging plan to produce substantial growth on that established success story. They have identified the need to keep competitive against emerging financial hubs and their proposals for doing so – building on our expertise in asset management, embracing green and sustainable finance and fintech – are rightly ambitious.
“But I share their conviction that the talent in Scotland – in our world-class universities, our
technology industries with their pioneering work in AI and data, and the established position of our
long-standing financial institutions – is up to that task.
“I’m delighted that it is being supported so firmly by both of Scotland’s governments, and look forward to it consolidating and growing the position of Scotland’s financial sector as a powerhouse within the UK, and as a global force.”
Sue Dawe, Head of Financial Services for Scotland, EY, and Deputy Chair, Scottish Financial Enterprise,
said: “I am delighted that EY has been able to input to this important sector growth strategy – a strategy that will help us articulate and deliver our shared future vision for Scotland’s financial services sector.
“The ambition builds on Scotland’s deep financial services heritage, leveraging existing strengths in collaboration, innovation and skills to identify where and how we can further differentiate ourselves in a globally competitive market.
“Its success will not only benefit our sector but also our clients, customers and the communities
where we operate. I am excited to see the positive impact this will have on all areas of the business
sector and look forward to contributing to its ongoing success.”