New sector leaders

Ferguson and Smith named fintech envoys

David Ferguson and Simon Kirby (photo: Terry Murden)
David Ferguson and Simon Kirby (photo: Terry Murden)

New roles to boost sector

David Ferguson, chief executive of Nucleus, and Louise Smith, head of design in personal and business banking at the Royal Bank of Scotland, have been appointed as the UK government’s new FinTech envoys for Scotland.

They will look to build regional and national FinTech networks and foster a culture of collaboration to help Scotland take advantage of the FinTech boom currently taking place across the UK.    

FinTech is one of the highest growing parts of the UK economy, contributing £6.6bn to GDP in 2015 and employing over 61,000 people. It encompasses innovation in financial services including e-banking, payment technologies, peer-to-peer lending, crowdfunding, digital currencies like bitcoin, and ‘robo’ advice – automated investment advice delivered using algorithms.

The two envoys will help to build a broader, supportive ecosystem that will support the overall growth of the sector.

After London, Scotland turns out the most FinTech related graduates in the UK- 12% of the annual pool of 97,000 graduates.

Edinburgh University is the largest informatics school in Europe and 35 per cent of all technology spin-out companies in the UK come from Scotland’s educational institutions.

On a visit to Edinburgh, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Simon Kirby said: “I’m delighted that David and Louise have agreed to become the government’s FinTech envoys for Scotland. Their in-depth knowledge of the industry and excellent reputations make them the right people to drive forward positive change and allow Scottish FinTech to flourish.”

Mr Ferguson said: “It is a great privilege to have been picked to help support the continued growth of FinTech in the UK. Over 10 years ago we embarked on our mission to challenge the established industry. With technology and transparency at the heart of our thinking, we’ve been fortunate enough to become a successful and profitable player in what we now call FinTech.

“One of the hardest things to get right is balancing the responsibilities of looking after people’s money with the agility of the tech sector while also making money and I’m very excited to see how we can help others strike the right balance over the coming years.”

Ms Smith said: “I’m honoured to take on the joint role of envoy for Scottish FinTech with David and incredibly excited about developing Scotland as a FinTech Centre of Excellence. 

I’ve been involved with FinTech and Digital related activities for over 10years and more recently with specific focus here in Scotland.  I have seen first-hand the great work that it has achieved in putting Scotland on the global technology map, we have such a vibrant and talented community who are working on the very latest ideas, games, apps, systems and design”

Graeme Jones, chief executive of Scottish Financial Enterprise (SFE), said: “There is huge potential for growth in Scotland’s FinTech sector and a number of exciting developments taking place. David and Louise work at the heart of FinTech in Scotland and have the expertise, drive and commitment to provide leadership and make the connections needed for the development of the sector throughout the UK.”

On his first trip to Mr Kirby visited Nucleus to sign the terms of reference with the new FinTech envoys and discuss the needs of the Scottish FinTech industry.

While in Edinburgh, the Economic Secretary also attended a roundtable hosted by SFE. The Minister used the occasion as an opportunity to discuss the challenges and opportunities of leaving the EU with Scottish business leaders; as well as reiterating the importance of working together as one United Kingdom.

Lord Dunlop, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Scotland Office also attended.

Mr  Kirby said: “The financial services sector in Scotland has gone from strength to strength and I’m delighted to be here in Edinburgh meeting some of the people driving this success.

“Listening closely to the views of Scottish financial services on the potential impact and opportunities offered by us leaving the EU, is very important to the UK government.

“Our financial services sector makes a crucial contribution to our economy and together we will work hard to ensure it continues as the hub for both Europe and the rest of the world.”

The Minister met David Duffy, chief executive of Clydesdale Bank, to talk through the challenger bank’s growth strategy and visit Capital Credit Union.

The Economic Secretary’s visit to Edinburgh is the first of three visits he is making to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to showcase the importance that the government places on developing the financial services hubs outside of London. 

The sector contribute more than 7% of Scotland’s GDP and employs  around 85,000 people, with a further 70,000 working in associated professional services.


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