Scotland has a global reputation for financial services excellence, with the infrastructure and skilled workforce that can deliver success, the Finance Secretary has told industry leaders at Scotland House in London.
Mr Swinney was speaking at a Scottish Government reception, which is part of a programme of Ministerial activity to capitalise on the global interest in the Olympics by showcasing Scottish industries and promoting inward investment to Scotland.
Representatives of Scottish, UK and international financial services businesses attended the reception. The Vice Chair of the Association of Foreign Banks in London, Roger Gifford, and Scottish Enterprise Chief Executive, Lena Wilson, also addressed the event.
Scotland is the home to global and European headquarters of major banks including RBS, Clydesdale as well as Virgin Money and Tesco Bank. More than 27 per cent of all UK life and pensions employment is in Scotland, which is home to the headquarters of AEGON UK, Scottish Widows and Standard Life.
Around £750 billion of assets are managed in Scotland, and there is a strong and growing asset servicing sector with companies such as Blackrock, BNY Mellon, BNP Paribas and State Street all having a presence in Scotland.
In his address, Mr Swinney highlighted the benefits of Scotland and the City of London working together to strengthen the financial services industry across the UK.
Finance Secretary John Swinney said:
“Scotland has a global reputation for financial services excellence, with the infrastructure and skilled workforce that can deliver success.
“Our diverse and thriving financial services sector contributes around £7 billion to Scottish GDP and employs approximately 86,000 people. Some of the biggest names in the industry have established operations in Scotland and this is testament to our rich financial heritage and position as a world leader in finance.
“The Scottish Government and our enterprise agencies recognise the substantial contribution the financial services industry makes to our economy. We recognise that strengthening links between Scotland and the City of London – and the many financial centres around the world – is important to ensure the future success of the sector.
“Through working together, we can secure new investment and job opportunities and capitalise on the unprecedented opportunity to celebrate and showcase our expertise and skills with the many thousands of business people who will travel to London for the Games.”
Scottish Enterprise Chief Executive Lena Wilson said:
“There are already strong links in place between the banking communities in Scotland and London with employees in different locations working alongside each other on a wide range of projects and corporate deals.
“The decision by BIS to locate the Green Investment Bank in Edinburgh with a transactions team in London will be a huge opportunity to strengthen these links. It is also a great example of how we are focusing in on Scotland’s real strengths to grow Scotland’s economy – bringing together the expertise and international reputation of Scotland’s financial services sector with the massive potential and assets that exist around renewable energy in Scotland.”
Vice chair of the Association of Foreign Banks in London and Head of Swedish bank SEB’s UK operations, Roger Gifford, also highlighted that the City of London has enjoyed strong historic links with Scottish financial services but these could be strengthened to help develop the industry across the UK.
Mr Gifford said:
“As well as the more obvious strengths in Scotland such as banking, insurance and asset and wealth management, Scotland’s financial and professional services has significant expertise in law and the maritime sector which is an important part of its total offering.
“It is clear that our biggest competition in financial services – for both London and Scotland– are countries such as Luxembourg, the Baltics, Switzerland and Singapore. By developing on the links that already exists between our two financial communities, we can combine our expertise and focus on who our competitors really are.”