As the prospect of Brexit reverberates across the UK economy, Scottish firms will be better prepared for political and economic upheaval than most.
After the independence referendum uncertainty, combined with global challenges posed by a fall in oil prices and technological disruption, business leaders will already be well-versed in the need to future-proof their operations. We should not let the challenges ahead distract us from the fact that this is an exciting time for business in Scotland.
What we need from government is a joined-up 21st century industrial strategy
At ACCA, the global body for professional accountants, we have just completed the relocation of our global operations centre in Glasgow to new offices at 110 Queen Street, having been in the city since 1976.
Accountancy as a profession is in the ascendancy. The UK Graduate Careers Survey has found that accountancy and professional services firms are aiming to add 4.3 per cent more graduate jobs in 2017. Post Brexit, professional accountants will be in huge demand as we seek to establish international trade deals which could have major economic repercussions for generations.
Having a base in Scotland is a testament to the core strengths and skills base of the local economy: we were able to not just use local professionals but also IT suppliers to maintain our global infrastructure – a useful example of “onshoring” jobs which derives from global competitiveness.
Glasgow is also one of the centres of the UK’s world-leading financial and professional services sector: worth an estimated 14 per cent of overall GDP and over £14 billion a year to the Scottish economy. This contribution to GDP should provide a salutary reminder for the governments in both Westminster and Holyrood. The UK’s financial, technological and educational expertise is a major export as well as providing essential skills to drive economic growth, negotiate favourable trade deals and continue to excel in an uncertain global economic climate.
Going forward what we need from government is a joined-up 21st century industrial strategy which supports investment in infrastructure as well as the professional and business service sector necessary to drive growth.
• Raymond Jack is executive director of finance and operations at ACCA