Financial Services Advisory Board minutes: May 2017

Record of discussion for the May 2017 meeting of the Financial Services Advisory Board (FiSAB).

Attendees and apologies


  • Rt Hon. Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister (Chair)
  • Jim Pettigrew, SFE Chair (Industry Co-Chair)
  • Mr Brown, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work
  • Mr Wheelhouse, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy
  • Philip Grant, Lloyds Banking Group
  • Jayne-Anne Gadhia, Virgin Money
  • Angus MacPherson, Noble and Co
  • Catherine Burnet, KPMG
  • Barry O’Dwyer, Standard Life
  • Agnes Tolmie, Unite
  • Graeme Jones, SFE
  • Christine O’Neill, Brodies
  • Professor Sir Tim O’Shea, University of Edinburgh

Also in attendance

  • David Ferguson, Nucleus
  • John McGuigan, Standard Life
  • Adrian Gillespie, Scottish Enterprise
  • Danny Cusick, Scottish Enterprise

Scottish Government

  • Ian McCall, Head of Financial Services and SME Finance Policy
  • Karen Rodger, Policy Lead, Financial Services
  • Jacqueline McKellan, Policy Adviser, Financial Services


  • Lena Wilson, Scottish Enterprise
  • Jim Lindsay, FiSAB Skills Group
  • Benny Higgins, Tesco
  • Malcolm Buchanan, Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Ian Ferguson, Aviva

Items and actions

Welcome and Introductions (ITEM 1)

1.1. The First Minister welcomed members, noting apologies. First Minister welcomed Agnes Tolmie to her first meeting representing Unite and expressed thanks on behalf of the board to departing members Fiona McBain, Mary Alexander and Ian Ferguson. The First Minister encouraged members to consider nominations for FiSAB membership.

Chairs’ remarks: Scottish Government update (ITEM 2)

2.1. First Minister noted that there has some significant political developments since the last Board meeting with the triggering of Article 50 and the announcement of a UK General Election to be held on 8 June.

2.2. Keith Brown provided a short update on recent economic performance measures, noting encouraging signs including an improvement in our productivity levels and resilience in the Scottish labour market but also highlighting the continued impact of low oil and gas prices.

2.3. Members discussed the economic data, commenting on the impact of Brexit and on levels on consumer spending, noting differences between Scotland and elsewhere in the UK.

2.4. Prof O’Shea welcomed the Scottish Government’s leadership in guaranteeing places for EU students.

2.5. The Board also discussed the recent launch of Scotland House in London, agreeing that it will be a valuable resource for Scotland.

ACTION: SG to circulate information on Scotland House to all members.

SFE update (ITEM 3)

3.1. Jim Pettigrew also highlighted recent political events, before discussing SFE’s recent AGM. SFE now has its highest levels of membership and is increasing its engagement with members as it works on development of the financial services strategy and more specifically on FinTech.

3.2. Jim thanked those who have supported the work on the high level strategy, noting that the first stages of that work are now drawing to a close.

3.3. Graeme Jones and Philip Grant briefly outlined the current status of work on the high level strategy for financial services noting that many individuals and organisations have contributed time and resources to the project.

ACTION: Detailed discussion of high level strategy to take place at next meeting of FISAB

FinTech Strategy (ITEM 4)

4.1. Graeme Jones outlined recent developments in work to support Scotland’s FinTech sector.

  • Scotland has been included in the Global Fintech Hubs Federation Index for the first time and ranked 36th out of 116 world centres.
  • SFE has held discussions with the FCA on providing increased support to Scottish SMEs

4.2. Graeme introduced David Ferguson of Nucleus, HMT Fintech Envoy for Scotland to provide a brief update on their intended move to greenside, Edinburgh and the options available to the sector to further develop that location and support small companies across the sector.

4.3. Constructive discussions have taken place between Nucleus, City of Edinburgh Council, University of Edinburgh, Scottish Enterprise and the Greenside landlords and are ongoing.

4.4. The SFE Fintech Steering Group are considering options to provide ongoing support to the FinTech sector through the formation of FinTech Scotland.

4.5. Graeme Jones introduced John McGuigan of Standard Life who described the work underway to build Scotland’s profile as a centre of excellence in FinTech.

4.6. Royal Bank of Scotland intend to host an event at their Gogarburn site in September to highlight our FinTech sector and showcase Scotland as a destination, including events for industry professionals, students and school pupils. Members were invited to support the event and are welcome to attend.

4.7. Members discussed developments, acknowledging that Scotland’s financial sector has undergone significant change in recent years and become more resilient as a result.

4.8. Increasingly, recruits to the financial sector will be in technical roles and a skills transition will be required. Legacy activity will continue for a significant period and will continue to require staff and resources as systems operate in parallel.

4.9. The higher and further education sectors are working to understand the needs of businesses over a long timescale and are also exploring opportunities offered by new technology, particularly in ‘big data’.

4.10. Mr Wheelhouse acknowledged the significant amount of work that has been done by the SFE FinTech Steering Group and by the Ministerial Working Group in a short period of time and welcomed the progress that has been made. He encouraged all board members to support that work, which would benefit the sector across Scotland.

4.11. The Board recognised Scotland’s strengths in specific areas including RegTech, with a potential global market in this areas as other countries adopt and adapt UK regulation while noting challenges to be overcome, particularly in data protection.

4.12. The Board recognised that recruiting all required staff form the local labour market could prove difficult and noted that continued access to international talent is a priority for the financial sector in forthcoming negotiations with the EU.

4.13. The First Minister welcomed the progress that has been made towards some very practical proposals to support the sector, noting that changing technology affected everyone in the financial services sector and that it is essential that Scotland keeps pace with developments.

First Minister left the meeting, with Keith Brown chairing the remainder of the meeting


5.1. Keith Brown noted the rapid changes in technology within the financial sector and raised the issue of customers potentially being ‘left behind’ or ‘unbanked’, and also the impact on business customers who do not meet strict data driven definitions on viability or risk.

5.2. Philip Grant noted that financial inclusion is an area that will be included in the forthcoming high-level strategy and that the industry is working with others in this area.

5.3. The Board noted the threats and opportunities presented by Scotland’s strengths in data, noting that maintaining customer trust would be essential to progress.

5.4. The Board discussed the impact of bank branch closures, noting that many customers value local provision of banking services – with one bank noting that branch usage is actually increasing in the 19-25 year old age bracket.

5.5. Agnes Tolmie noted that bank branch closures can have an impact on communities, with the local bank serving as a community hub and important place to connect, particularly in remote or rural communities.

5.6. Mr Brown acknowledged the difficulty faced by banks, particularly where the bank operates the ‘last bank in town’ in managing that social role and welcomed commitments to retain branch networks noting that accessing cash was an issue for some communities, reliant on local post offices and ATMs.

5.7. The Board felt that there will be a continuing need for face to face provision and that a range of operating models will be provided to meet customer needs and demands. Scotland’s banks are committed to retaining a branch network and recognise the social impact of closures.

5.8. Mr Brown drew the meeting to a close and thanked members for their attendance and contribution to the discussion.



Telephone: 0300 244 1196

Post: Scottish Government
Financial Services and SME Finance Policy Team
Innovation, Investment & Industries Division
Directorate for Economic Development
5 Atlantic Quay
150 Broomielaw
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