Financial Services Growth and Development Board minutes: September 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the Board on 13 September 2023.

Attendees and apologies


  • Humza Yousaf MSP, First Minister 
  • Neil Gray MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy
  • John McGuigan, SFE
  • Sandy Begbie, SFE
  • Judith Cruickshank, RBS
  • Sue Dawe, EY
  • Nicola Anderson, FinTech Scotland
  • Barry O'Dwyer, Royal London
  • Koral Anderson, Barclays
  • Vida Rudkin, Morgan Stanley
  • Louisa Knox, Shepherd and Wedderburn 
  • Claire Reid, PWC
  • Alastair Ross, ABI
  • Sarah Roughead, SNIB
  • Arleen Arnott, KPMG
  • Jackie Leiper, LBG
  • Nick McGruer, FCA
  • Sheriff King, City of London Corporation 


  • Richard Lochhead MSP, Minister for Small Business, Innovation, Tourism and Trade
  • Stephen Bird, abrdn
  • Gerry Mallon, Tesco Bank
  • Andy Curran, Phoenix Group
  • Angus MacPherson, Noble Group 
  • Jane Martin, Scottish Enterprise

Scottish Government

  • Conal O'Hare
  • Andrew Hogg
  • Kim Mackay
  • Matthew Anderson


Items and actions

Welcome (item 1)

John McGuigan opened the meeting explaining that the purpose of FISGAD is for government and the financial and professional services sector to collaborate on shared opportunities and challenges. The aim is that meetings are discussion led from all in attendance with clear actions and deliverables as outcomes. 

Wellbeing Economy (item 2)

The First Minister expressed the importance of financial and professional services to Scotland, emphasising that success for the sector equates to success for the country. He outlined that economic growth is a key priority for the Scottish Government, but that growth must be fair, inclusive and for a purpose. The First Minister also focussed on Scotland’s opportunity to tackle the climate emergency with the natural resources we possess and his desire to encourage investors to view Scotland as an attractive and receptive environment in which to invest their capital.

The group explored how the financial and professional services industry can contribute to a wellbeing economy for Scotland. There was a focus on investment in net zero, acknowledging that there is significant private finance available but Scotland is still on a journey to establishing a pipeline of investible projects of sufficient scale to attract investors. Those present also considered how the industry could utilise the government’s convening power to get the necessary stakeholders together to tackle the issue.

FCA presentation – Financial Lives (item 3)

Nick McGruer (Financial Conduct Authority) presented findings from the recent FCA Financial Lives Survey, highlighting the impact the cost crisis has had on Scottish consumers. He outlined measures the FCA have introduced in order to protect consumers through the cost crisis, most notably the new Consumer Duty, stronger guidance on the savings rates offered by firms, the Mortgage Charter and an increase in FCA powers to protect access to cash.

Nick concluded his presentation by saying the FCA are continuing to build their presence in Scotland. The FCA want to ensure that any decisions which are made nationally have input and demonstrable impact in the communities they serve.

Financial Wellbeing and Inclusion (item 4)

Judith Cruickshank (Royal Bank of Scotland) provided an update based around SFE’s monthly Banking Barometer which outlines the trends banks have observed across their business and retail customer base.

Lending has remained stable and banks have appetite to lend. Large businesses tend to be more active than small businesses and particular sectors such as agriculture, hospitality and tourism have been most impacted by the cost crisis. Businesses continue to show strong resilience, as they did during COVID-19, however this is becoming more difficult to sustain with business confidence levels falling. 

Mortgage rate rises remain a concern although the majority of customers are currently protected by fixed rate products for now. Banks are starting to see an increased use of physical cash for budgeting and credit cards/overdrafts being used to service household essentials. They have also observed polarisation across deposit levels with those who are better off able to add to deposits and benefit from higher savings rates versus those on lower incomes who are seeing deposits decrease. 

The group looked at how the industry and government can better collaborate to ensure the best support is available for households and businesses. The issue of customer vulnerability was discussed and the need to better identify who is a vulnerable customer so they can be targeted with the most appropriate support as quickly as possible, as well as ensuring they have access to suitable information to avoid financial scams.

The group also noted the importance of quality data in identifying those businesses and households who require support most and what the impact of any support provided has been. A lot of great work happens within local communities and the financial services industry can be better connected to this and other community wealth building programmes. 

The group raised the complexity of the social security system as an issue. Often this complexity leads to unclaimed benefits from those who need them most. It was agreed that proactivity in this space would be beneficial and that the Scottish Government and industry will work together to explore what can be done to help individuals navigate the benefits landscape.

Financial and Professional Services Sector Growth Strategy (item 5)

Sandy Begbie (Scottish Financial Enterprise) presented an update on the development of a financial and professional services sector growth strategy in Scotland. He highlighted the below areas in which Scotland have opportunities for growth:

  • Asset and wealth management
  • Green and sustainable finance
  • Fintech
  • Data, AI and cyber
  • Regional models

These opportunities are underpinned by existing strengths such as our strong human capital base, our attractiveness as a location to live and work and our location in relation to London as a global financial centre.

Sandy expressed that a key theme from the strategy’s progress is the need to be better connected across the financial ecosystem in Scotland, something that is used to good effect by other jurisdictions. Industry, government, regulators, and educators can be better aligned to deliver a narrative for Scotland as a location for financial and professional services, as well as an attractive industry in which to work

The group discussed the issue of skills, acknowledging that, at present, Scotland have a strong talent base but there could be closer matching between skills profiles and areas where we expect future growth. More can therefore be done to join up the skills ecosystem, including with universities, to ensure there is a pipeline which meets the future needs of the sector. It was also noted that migration will be essential to satisfying Scotland’s skills demand. Scotland can attract migration from the rest of the UK by promoting Scotland as an attractive place to live which offers a good social contract. The levers for international migration sit with the UK Government. The Scottish Government will continue to push on this point but also encourage the financial services industry to utilise their influence to highlight the issues directly with UK Government counterparts. 

The group also explored how to attract more investment into financial and professional services in Scotland. It was recognised that consistency of the policy environment is key for investors when making investment decisions. A key advantage that Scotland has is that we are large enough in size in which to make a difference, but also small enough for investors to easily navigate and make connections within the country. Scotland needs to better leverage this advantage and utilise the “Team Scotland” approach in financial services which has worked to good effect in other sectors.


  • Co-ordinate group to investigate investible projects in Scotland and how to capture available pensions investment with a particular focus on the challenge of heating buildings/decarbonisation. Barry O'Dwyer and Alastair Ross expressed interest in being involved.
  • First Minister to be provided with further detail on Smart Data Foundry's East Renfrewshire Council's pilot "enabling data driven decision making"
  • Future agenda item of FISGAD to explore data and how the sector and government can be better connected across data - with particular regards to the detection and support of vulnerable consumers.
  • Co-ordinate group to investigate the complex benefits landscape and explore how this can be made simpler for individuals to navigate to ensure all entitled benefits are being claimed.
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