Scottish finance sector leaders press for greater collaboration as five-year plan launches

Scottish finance sector leaders have called for greater collaboration between industry and government to tackle the economic recovery and climate concerns.

Launching a new five-year strategy, Scottish Financial Enterprise (SFE) said it proposed to focus on four key areas – leading the journey to net zero, supporting economic recovery, responding to changing customer needs and developing skills and inclusion.

The industry group said it had developed the strategy through “extensive consultation” with its member firms, which are drawn from a sector that employs some 160,000 people in Scotland across banking, life and pensions, insurance, investment management and related professional services.

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An official launch for the new strategy took place in Edinburgh, with the support of both the Scottish and UK governments.

L to R: Scottish Government minister for business, trade, tourism and enterprise Ivan McKee, SFE chief executive Sandy Begbie, SFE Young Professionals chair Milly Dent, SFE deputy chair John McGuigan, UK government minister for Scotland Iain Stewart. Picture: Chris Watt

Sandy Begbie, SFE chief executive, said: “Across the country, people are focused 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.”

He added: “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 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.

“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: “Throughout the pandemic, the UK government has acted decisively to protect lives and livelihoods in Scotland and across all parts of the UK.

“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, added: “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.”

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