SFE End of Year Member Update

As 2021 draws to a close, so does my first full year in charge of SFE, and what a year it’s been. I’ve enjoyed the privilege of working with and getting to know many of you, our members, and building even closer relationships with those I knew before.

With the strategy in place we have a clear vision for the future and it has been heartening to see every corner of our diverse membership come together to align behind this vision.

We’re finishing the year on a high with two more busy months of engagement in November and December. This includes a lively two weeks over COP26, hosting a number of overlapping events, speaking at others, and responding to the key moments.

One thing that was clear from the summit is that financial and professional services are now fully committed to leading the journey to net zero, and we were delighted to be a part of the conversation on how to achieve this.  

We also held our St. Andrews Day Reception at Dover House at the end of November, which was kindly sponsored by Abrdn. The reception provided us with an excellent opportunity to celebrate the success of Scotland's financial and professional services sector and consider the central role we can play in creating the “high-skill, high-wage” economy the UK Government is pursuing with ministers, industry leaders and MPs from across the political spectrum.

And we were pleased to partner with the Department for International Trade (DIT) last week for a roundtable discussion on how to enhance exports from financial and professional services and make the most of opportunities from new Free Trade Agreements through closer collaboration with DIT, Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International.

All of this activity, in addition to everything else we have achieved this year, is designed to give us a greater platform to shape public policy on our strategic themes, drive investment and enhance our global reputation as a financial and professional services centre  – and that’s exactly what we plan to do.

In the first quarter of 2022 we will use the progress made this year as a springboard to implement our full strategy activation framework. Here’s a snippet of what you can expect from us early next year.

  • We will launch a new digital prospectus and campaign to promote Scotland as an inward investment location.
  • We will move forward with our plans to establish Scotland as a centre of excellence for green finance, bringing proposals to both the Scottish and UK governments.
  • We will formalise proposals for a new Scotland-London financial services forum with the UK government
  • We’ll get underway with our refreshed financial services forum with the Scottish Government.

It’s vital that we harness the expertise of our membership to achieve these goals. There are different areas of the strategy that will appeal to the expertise and ambitions of different members and we want to make certain that we are reaching every member at every level with opportunities to participate and drive forward our shared agenda.

One of our key strengths as an organisation is the diversity of our membership and we are delighted that twelve new members on board this year, adding to this diversity and bringing in new experience and insights. The full list of new members can be found below.

If there is anything you or your organisation would like to be involved in, have insights on or have ideas about, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me, our Director of Public Policy and Communications Sandy Macdonald (smacdonald@sfe.org.uk) or our Director of Membership Services Jayne Currie (jcurrie@sfe.org.uk).

All of the progress we have made this year is made possible by you, our members, and I want to thank you for your continued support. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy a well-earned rest with family and friends and I look forward to seeing you in the new year as we embark on this next exciting chapter.

With kindest regards,

Sandy Begbie CBE

Government Engagement

  • On 10 November Sandy met with officials from HM Treasury to discuss the UK budget, progress with our strategy and proposals for a new Scotland-London financial and professional services forum
  • On 10 November Sandy Scottish Government officials to discuss the delivery of the new green finance taskforce
  • On 17 November Sandy met with Scottish Director-General for Education, Communities and Justice Paul Johnston to discuss the role of employment/employers and the Young Persons Guarantee in addressing poverty
  • On 18 November Sandy and Philip met with  Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise Ivan McKee to discuss the Banking Barometer and economic recovery
  • On 3 December Sandy met with Liz Smith MSP, Dean Lockhart MSP and Murdo Fraser MSP of the Scottish Conservative Party to discuss the banking barometer and skills shortages.
  • On 6 December Sandy met with Scottish Government officials to discuss the next steps concerning the financial services advisory forum
  • On 7  December Sandy met with Mary McAllan, Scottish Government Director of Economic Development to discuss Sandy’s invitation to join the Covid Recovery Strategy Programme Board
  • Sandy continues to attend weekly meetings with Scottish Government and business trade bodies. If you have anything you would like Sandy to raise on these calls please get in touch with him direct or our Director of Public Policy & Communications Sandy Macdonald, smacdonald@sfe.org.uk  


SFE & Refinitiv Webinar
We partnered with Refinitiv on 26 November to discuss data challenges related to the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) and EU Taxonomy with experts from LSEG (London Stock Exchange Group). Click on the link to watch the full event.

SFE & Capco Event | ESG: Elevating Your Data Strategy
SFE & Capco hosted an in-person breakfast discussion on ESG and how financial services organisations can elevate their data strategy on 11 November at the Glasshouse Hotel in Edinburgh. The session provided insights into how ESG and data approaches can play a critical role in accelerating climate strategies and net-zero goals.
SFE & Accenture Webinar | A Sustainable Future
Our final webinar series with Accenture took place on 9 November. Our speakers did a fantastic job of demonstrating how innovation in fintech and green finance can help to drive a more sustainable future for the financial services sector. Watch the full event on demand via the link above.
Skills and Inclusion
SFE’s #SpotlightonEmployers series
M&G and Grant Thornton were featured in our #SpotlightOnEmployers blog series in November. The series has been promoting the career opportunities available at SFE member firms for young people. Please contact ccooke@sfe.org.uk to showcase opportunities at your company.

Unified School Programme Events

On 15 November, SFE USP hosted a panel event on Sustainable Investment in collaboration with Developing the Young Workforce and Investment20/20. Students heard from sustainable investment experts as well as two recent apprentices/trainees who started their careers in sustainable investment after secondary school.

On 30 November, SFE's Unified Schools Programme (USP), in collaboration with EY Foundation and DYW Perth & Kinross, hosted an Employability Panel Session for S4-S6 students to raise awareness about career opportunities in financial services. Students had the opportunity to participate in a Q&A session with experienced talent acquisition specialists in the industry to clarify their views on employability, career opportunities, entry paths, and application process details into the FS.

The first-ever Scottish Careers Week was held this year from 15 to 19 November. In collaboration with the SFE YP network shared a number of vlogs and blogs highlighting the different career paths available into financial and professional services. Caitlin Cooke, Senior Manager at EY, Charlotte Walker, Tax Manager at Alvarez & Marsal and Nathan Thompson, Head of Service Design at Aegon were all featured in the #Carerrsweek series.

Living Wage Week
SFE is an accredited Living Wage Scotland employer. As part of #LivingWageWeek, SFE members Aviva and abrdn alongside our Public Policy & Communications Director, Sandy MacDonald took part in a panel discussion about the 'Living Hours' accreditation scheme.

Blogs & Media

Scottish Financial Services Awards 2021: Hear from our winners and commendations
November’s insight blog highlights the inspiring stories of the 2021 Scottish Financial Services Awards winners. It's a fascinating read to learn how important the awards are to the winners, who are ambassadors for our industry.

SFE responds to Chancellors COP26 speech on UK's green finance ambitions
In response to Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s COP26 pledge for the UK to become the world’s first net zero financial centre, Sandy Begbie CBE expressed optimism about alignment with our own strategy, highlighting that the Scottish financial and professional services sector has the skills, expertise, technology, infrastructure and ambition to be a leading global hub for green finance. 

SFE responds to Scottish budget for 2022/2023
In response to the Scottish budget for 2022/23, Sandy Begbie CBE welcomed new funding for skills and decarbonisation, but urged the government to raise ambition and work more closely with business to drive economic recovery. 

Sandy Writes in The Scotsman
Sandy Begbie CBE wrote in The Scotsman during Scottish Careers Week about the importance of promoting Early Careers opportunities in the financial services industry. He stressed the need for bold, courageous policy that links education to Scotland's future skill requirements.

SFE Insight | Financial Resilience and Social Innovation
In our final insight blog of 2021, Jamie Jenkins, Director of Policy & External Affairs at Royal London, discusses the role financial services can play in creating better financial resilience, and how this role is changing to incorporate wider societal challenges.

Young Professionals Network

SFE YP Parliamentary Reception
This year’s SFE YP Parliamentary Reception was held 2 December in the Members Room of the Scottish Parliament, providing our young professionals with an excellent opportunity to interact with senior industry figures and politicians and discuss issues such as the impact and recovery of covid for young professionals, skills and inclusion, and mental health in the workplace.

Mental Health report with SAMH and See Me
The Young Professionals Network has released a new report in partnership with SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) and See Me which underlines both the achievements and areas for improvement for the Scottish financial and professional services sector in tackling mental health. The report outlines four key action areas the industry can focus effort on to achieve this aim: culture, communication, capability and covid recovery. Click on the link above to read the full report or watch our launch event here.

SFE YP blog: Paternity Leave
Tom Casey is Head of Client Support, Scotland & Northern Ireland at Schroders Personal Wealth. In this blog, Tom shares his experience while on paternity leave and offers advice to working parents and those considering becoming parents on how to balance family and work demands.

Industry news and useful information

TheCityUK Report: ‘Enabling Growth Across the UK’
A new report by TheCityUK highlights the strength of Scotland’s financial and related professional services sector to the economy, with the industry responsible for 8.4% of Scotland’s GVA and 5.9% of national employment. Click the link to ready report summary or download the full document.

Scottish Government covid-19 business guidance
Click here to find all of the latest covid-19 business guidance published by the Scottish government, or here to see the government’s strategic framework for handling covid-19, which was updated in November.
New SFE members in 2021
Albany Beck        Alvarez & Marsal      Exizent       GingrTech          IQUAD        Nile HQ         
Odgers Berndston     Royal London    Scottish Investment Trust     Scottish Friendly  
Scottish National Investment Bank    Social Investment Scotland