Graeme Jones - Hundreds of years of financial services and hundreds of years more #Edinburgh2050

24 February 2017

Graeme Jones

In our latest installment of the #Edinburgh2050 blog series Graeme Jones, Chief Executive of Scottish Financial Enterprise, tells us what the future may hold for Edinburgh's banking industry... 

If we were to look back 40 years or so, Edinburgh’s banks, insurers, fund managers and other financial services providers, would have looked a lot different than they do today. You’ll still see many of the same names and brands, but what they look like and how they serve their customers, couldn’t be more different. However, the rapid pace of change in the past is likely to pale into insignificance compared to what we can expect in the next 40 years. By 2050 I am sure Edinburgh will still be a thriving, diverse financial centre of scale. But fuelled by the rapid innovation of technology, changes in customer behaviour and a constantly evolving regulatory, economic and political climate; what that may look like, may bear little resemblance to what it does today.

In the 1970s, for example, it would have been inconceivable to think that an everyday behaviour would be to sit at home, renewing your mortgage on your laptop and transferring money between bank accounts on your smartphone. For a start, laptops, the internet and smartphones did not exist. So in 2017, we probably don’t even know what commonplace technology will be around in 2050 - and the question is more likely to be - what was a laptop?

Change in financial services just now, could not be quicker or more exciting. FinTech (financial technology) is now part and parcel of the industry, embedded at all levels and scale and getting bigger and more diverse in its application every day. Today, Edinburgh has a vibrant FinTech community comprising of the innovation teams within our large FS firms, small start-ups; professional services and established FinTech players.

Our vision is for Edinburgh to become a global FinTech hub. This will be a reality before 2050, but we need to start the process now, to ensure we are at the vanguard of developments which will shape the industry’s presence globally, and in Edinburgh, in 2050.

Above all else, financial services are here to serve customers. From Edinburgh the industry serves individuals and businesses locally, nationally and internationally. Whether it is someone needing to insure their property, looking for their first mortgage, saving for a special event or their retirement, or just to paying a bill; or an organisation needing insurance to protect their business, finance to fund their growth, or professional legal and accounting expertise to complete an international business transaction, it is the financial services industry that helps to make these things happen.

How these functions are carried out and how we access them will change. But we were insuring, banking, saving and investing in 1650, 1850, 1950, and we still will be in 2050 - always changing and evolving, but still there to support some very basic, everyday activities.

Financial services in Edinburgh in 2050 will be, and should be, shaped by what customers want and need. For as long as there are customers in Edinburgh and around the world and we remain an outward looking city, then there will be a vibrant, dynamic financial services industry here supporting them.

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