City meeting

Yousaf promotes Scottish finance amid setbacks

Humza Yousaf
Humza Yousaf: London bound (pic: Terry Murden)

First Minister Humza Yousaf will be in London this week to promote Scotland’s role as a financial centre against a backdrop of weaker confidence and job losses.

Mr Yousaf will travel to the City to agree an “enhanced framework” that seeks to share the benefits of a thriving financial services industry across the UK.

Trade group Scottish Financial Enterprise wants to double assets under management in Scotland’s financial services sector to £1 trillion by 2030.

However, it comes a week after the sector was rocked by job losses at two of Scotland’s biggest asset managers and the withdrawal of funds as investors change their priorities.

Abrdn, formerly Standard Life Aberdeen, announced 500 job losses on the back of a withdrawal of more than £12 billion of funds under management. The company’s shares have plummeted by a third in the past year.

Baillie Gifford also announced it was closing four of its funds and losing “dozens” of staff.

In 2022 Chancellor Jeremy Hunt came to Scotland to announce his “Edinburgh Reforms” – a package of 31 measures to shake-up regulation and spread the benefits of financial services more evenly across the UK.

Last month a committee of MPs claimed they had made no impact, though Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Bim Afolami defended the measures as he held a series of roundtables on asset management and fintech in Edinburgh and visited Morgan Stanley offices in Glasgow. 

Jeremy Hunt
Jeremy Hunt unveiled his Edinburgh Reforms in the city in December 2022

In comments issued before his trip south this week, Mr Yousaf made no mention of the latest setbacks to face the sector, preferring to trot out data about inward investment.

He said: “Scotland has much to gain from strengthening our relationship with the City of London – by providing access to global investors and collaborating on shared initiatives, we can reap the benefits of a thriving financial services industry for our centres of excellence.

“Outside of London, Scotland both has the UK’s largest financial services centre and is the most attractive location in the UK for foreign direct investment. By working with the City of London Corporation towards shared goals, we can continue to drive that investment, and grow our economy.

“This latest partnership agreement is enhanced in terms of the scope and focus of our ambition, and will ensure our priorities continue to align with those of businesses in the financial sector.” 

City of London Corporation policy chairman Chris Hayward said:  “The twin financial and professional services sectors of London and Scotland represent a critical part of the UK economy.

“We’ve been delighted to partner with the Scottish Government on a range of issues where we have alignment and shared challenges: in sustainable finance, technology, talent and growth.

“Today’s meetings and Burns Supper represent an opportunity to really explore these areas; to identify areas of complementarity; and determine how we can work together for the benefit of our shared sectors, economies and people.”

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