Letters: More ups than downs for Scottish finance economy

The Bank of Scotland building on the Mound. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

The Bank of Scotland building on the Mound. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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Scotland’s financial sector could either be one of the biggest winners or the biggest losers from Brexit. A break from the United Kingdom, if managed properly while maintaining Scotland’s access to the single market, could see 50,000 financial jobs finding their way to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The Scottish financial services sector currently employs around 95,000 people and generates £7bn, 7% of the country’s GDP. It has core competences in global custody, risk management, asset servicing, investment management, insurance and pensions.

If Scotland leaves the European Union, along with the rest of the United Kingdom, it could well see this contract. This could in turn see the loss of 5000 jobs.

The reason for these two starkly contrasting outcomes is the so called ‘single financial passport’ that membership of the European Union brings with it.

This is a system of mutual recognition which allows financial services operators legally established in one member state to provide their services to other member states without further authorisation. Exiting the European Union will risk losing this privilege.

The United Kingdom, and in particular the City of London, is the biggest beneficiary of the free access to other European countries’ financial markets.

In effect, London is the gateway to Europe’s capital markets. It does the majority of the foreign exchange, investment banking and ancillary services for the European countries. It stands to lose this pre-eminence in the wake of Brexit.

If Scotland plays its cards right and somehow remains in a Europe that the City of London can’t get access to, jobs will flow north of the Border. If on the other hand it exits along with the rest of the United Kingdom, marketing jobs and some of those outsourced from London could be lost.

The Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, and Scottish Development International have been focused on making Scotland an attractive place for financial companies, particularly in the emerging field of Fintech.

The country is respected for its financial savvy and indeed it is still turning out the brightest graduates in the industry.

Regardless of the outcome, Scotland will become a digital hub for financial transactions, banking, custody and settlements. When the uncertainty clears, this will become apparent. The good news is that, despite the uncertainty, the upside is ten times bigger than the downside.

Daniel Broby, Director of the Centre for Financial Regulation and Innovation, University of Strathclyde Business School

Fire museum closure a loss to city’s history

Edinburgh was the first city in the UK and second in the world to have a municipal fire service, which makes the threatened closure of the city’s fire museum both a shame and a great loss to the Capital’s history (‘Fire sale blow for museum backers’, Evening News, July 15).

I made my first visit this week. I hope it will not be my last. Knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff informed, educated and entertained me. To learn how such a vital public service started and evolved in Edinburgh was fascinating.

It’s a treat of a museum all should visit and one that deserves to be saved.

Campbell Evans, Caiystane Drive, Edinburgh

Nicola is playing a cagey game over EU

Amid all the sound and fury generated by Nicola Sturgeon over Brexit she is keeping well hidden a rather significant fact.

If we had voted for independence in 2014 we would now already be out of the EU and possibly considering whether to apply to join. Would the SNP have perpetrated a ‘democratic outrage’ upon the Scottish people for ‘ripping’ it out of the EU against its will?

As to her histrionics in Brussels and elsewhere it is clear she is being told now exactly what we were being told by EU officials in 2014.

If Scotland were to become independent it could apply to join the EU on the same terms as any other potential applicant. There was no mechanism for some sort of back door deal then, nor is there now in the current circumstances.

I am perfectly sure that Ms Sturgeon knows this only too well. Since remaining in the EU has suddenly assumed the elevated position of being the primary incentive for independence, any arrangement to achieve this would scupper for good her chances of success in a second independence poll.

Indeed, despite all the posturing, somehow being allowed to ‘stay’ in the EU and also be in the UK is the very last thing she wants.

Colin Hamilton, Braid Hills Avenue, Edinburgh

Alex plays to gallery again over Blair call

Asked about the latest developments following publication of the Chilcot report, Labour MP Chuka Umunna rightly says that the focus should be on ensuring we properly learn the lessons, ensuring mistakes are not repeated.

He wonders whether the attempt to cite Tony Blair for contempt of parliament by Alex Salmond and others at Westminster is simply posturing. Of course Alex Salmond has built his public persona by playing to the gallery.

Being able to do so while attacking an ex-leader of one of the main UK parties is for him just a bonus. Mr Salmond’s pronouncements are generally aimed at two targets, one of which is invariably the UK as a whole.

Keith Howell, West Linton, Peeblesshire