Peter Estlin, the elected head of the City of London Corporation, is encouraging Scottish businesses to accompany his trips abroad with the aim of securing funding and boosting trade links.
He is set to lead delegations to 30 countries this year, with a key focus on Asian markets, and believes that Scotland is poised to capitalise on its innovative work in financial and legal sectors.
He told The Scotsman: “We need to encourage companies to export more. Asia will be 50 per cent of the global economy within the next year or two, so just the sheer scale means that it will become an even more important marketplace.
“It’s about encouraging business that are looking to create, or already have, relationships internationally to come with me on delegations to international markets to promote what they’re doing.”
Estlin, the 691st Lord Mayor of the City of London and an international ambassador for the UK’s financial and professional services sector, is also a senior advisor to Barclays.
During a three-day trip to Edinburgh and Glasgow to promote export and investment opportunities, he is to meet with professional services and finance business, including Standard Life Aberdeen, which has joined previous trade delegations, and Burness Paull.
Estlin encourages what he calls the “beyond Brexit message”, as he believes there are strong funding opportunities for Scottish firms despite the current political uncertainty.
He said: “The scale of capital coming into the UK is phenomenal, record levels of foreign direct investment and venture capital. People aren’t daft, they can see where the opportunities are. They can see that level of engagement between the business community and the universities, and that’s where the strength is.
“Scotland has got some brilliant universities developing some great talent, particularly in AI [artificial intelligence] and data management.”
Estlin is also promoting a skills agenda to support this.
His Scotland visit includes a trip to Barclays Eagle Lab incubator as well as meetings with Scottish Financial Enterprise and Finance Secretary Derek Mackay.
Estlin stressed the importance of spending time with start-ups, adding: “You get a sense of the scale of the businesses themselves but also of some of the themes.
“That’s very valuable because they will see if there’s any barriers or any areas they are feeling challenged with, which could be access to talent or access to capital. Then we can ask what we can do to unlock any of that.”
The City of London Corporation supports a continuous programme of engagement throughout the year, such as London’s Fintech Week in July, which a number of Scottish firms will be attending.