Scottish Financial Enterprise calls for renewed collaboration with government and industry to tackle economic recovery and climate crisis

Scottish and UK Governments welcome SFE’s new strategy for Scotland’s financial services industry

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New five-year strategy for Scotland’s financial services industry underlines commitment to having a positive impact on society

SCOTTISH Financial Enterprise (SFE) today launched its five-year strategy for the financial services sector, establishing a range of proposals to drive collaboration across the industry and with both the Scottish and UK Governments. 

Scotland’s Financial Services Strategy was designed by the industry to have a positive impact on our members’ customers, colleagues and wider society, reflecting the vital role financial services will play in Scotland’s economic recovery.

The strategy represents an industry with a global footprint and one which aims to have a truly local and meaningful impact. It includes proposals on four key areas, which are:

  • Leading the journey to net zero – inspiring global leadership in green finance and supporting the Scottish economy to achieve net zero
  • Supporting economic recovery – facilitating the immediate and sustainable recovery of the Scottish economy following the coronavirus pandemic
  • Responding to changing customer needs – delivering the innovative and inclusive products and services that meet the evolving needs of all customers
  • Developing skills and inclusion – enabling financial services firms to recruit, develop and retain diverse, high-performing skills within the industry.

SFE developed the strategy through extensive consultation with its member firms, which are drawn from an industry that employs 160,000 people in Scotland across banking, life and pensions, insurance, investment management, and related professional services.

The official launch took place in Edinburgh, with the support of both the Scottish and UK Governments. The UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart and the Scottish GovernmentMinister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise Ivan McKee formally welcomed the strategy. Also in attendance were SFE Chief Executive Sandy Begbie CBE, SFE Deputy Chair John McGuigan, and SFE Young Professionals Chair Milly Dent.

Sandy Begbie, Scottish Financial Enterprise Chief Executive, said: “Across the country, people are focussed on how we rebuild our economy and address the pressing climate emergency. Whether we call this green economic recovery or build back better, it is about achieving growth for the future, decarbonising our key industries and creating opportunities for our people and communities.

“In order to achieve these objectives, collaboration across the industry and with both governments will be crucial. With the full support of its members, Scottish Financial Enterprise is committed to forging renewed partnerships with government that will enable our sector to play its part in tackling the major societal challenges we face over the next five years.

“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 we have launched today encompasses these priorities and how we will pursue them to make a positive impact upon wider society.”

Ivan McKee, Scottish Government Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, said: “Scotland’s financial services industry is a national success story, exporting products and attracting investment worldwide. Throughout the pandemic the sector has supported jobs, businesses and communities across the country. I would like to pay tribute to those in the sector who have kept the financial system and our economy going over the past 18 months.

“As Scotland looks forward to a sustainable recovery, I am pleased to support this ambitious industry-led strategy for the sector’s future, which places the positive impact financial services can have on our society at its heart. Scotland’s values as a nation guide us towards a fair, sustainable, inclusive and low carbon future, and our world-class financial services industry will be central to making that vision a reality.”

Iain Stewart, UK Government Minister for Scotland, said: “I welcome Scottish Financial Enterprise’s strategy and agree Scotland’s world leading financial sector will play an important part as we deliver recovery from Covid-19.

“Throughout the pandemic, the UK Government has acted decisively to protect lives and livelihoods in Scotland and across all parts of the UK. Supporting jobs through our furlough scheme and the additional £14.5bn in funding for the devolved Scottish Government. 

“There is no doubt that real challenges lie ahead as we recover from the pandemic and we will continue to work closely with the Scottish Government and key partners, including SFE, as we build back better and greener and level up every part of the UK.” 

Milly Dent, SFE Young Professionals Chair, said: “SFE Young Professionals are excited to support this strategy which clearly prioritises societal impact at its heart. Young people have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and I’m pleased to see a real focus on skills and inclusion.

“We are on the cusp of change and I know young people are keen to make a positive difference to their customers, communities and the climate. Creating a more inclusive, welcoming and innovative sector will also help attract people from all backgrounds, which can only be a good thing for our businesses and society more broadly.”

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