Will the shift to finance benefit Scotland in a post-Brexit world?

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Scotland’s economy has come under increased scrutiny in recent times, as the UK has continued to negotiate its departure from the EU. Most recently, Paisley’s MP George Adam has raised concerns over the future of Scottish produce in a post-Brexit world, with the UK government having already omitted Scottish products from the existing trade deal between the EU and Canada.


This is part of a continued theme, with the UK consistently failing to represent the interests of Scotland (and the other devolved nations) during the Brexit negotiation process.


This certainly seems to have resonated in the minds of young Scottish entrepreneurs, who are increasingly inclined to prioritise careers in finance as the economic landscape braces itself for monumental change. While the potential risks of a career in financial services and financial market trading were recently discussed in a One Show feature, the bigger question is whether or not this will benefit the Scottish economy in the near and long-term future?


Can a generation of financial entrepreneurs’ drive Scotland forward?


In many ways, it should come as no surprise that young entrepreneurs in Scotland are being drawn into the world of finance. After all, independent educational online trading courses and resources such as Sharp Trader, have evolved to help provide students with an innate understanding of individual financial markets and core, fiscal services. Given this and the lucrative nature of these markets and the evolution of fintech solutions, it has never been easier to launch an independent venture in this space and claim a share of the marketplace.


With many of the barriers to entry that once surrounded the financial markets and services sector having been removed by technology, graduates and aspiring entrepreneurs are clearly seeing a future within this space. At first glance, this should also provide a boost to the Scottish economy, particularly with estimates suggesting that its major towns and cities (including Paisley) could lose a total of £30 billion if Britain exits the EU without an agreed deal.


This raises a serious issue, however. Regardless of whether or not the UK leaves the EU with a deal or not, operating outside the EU would seriously diminish the demand for financial services and potentially cause some larger provides to relocate. This is similar to the challenge facing London, which despite being the current fintech capital of the world is in danger of losing this moniker to rival EU cities such as Berlin. Start-up ventures and solo entrepreneurs would therefore be entering into a declining market, and one in which they may struggle to achieve their objectives and profitability.


How would Scottish independence change this?


Given this and the challenges associated with entering the volatile and constantly changing financial sector, it is hard to see how such a shift would boost the Scottish economy in the short-term.


This may change in the longer-term, however, particularly if the nation hosts another independence referendum and ultimately leaves the UK. Although this would introduce challenges of its own, an entire generation of financial experts and analysts could help Scotland to position itself as a fiscal powerhouse should it subsequently apply to become a stand-alone member of the EU. While this is some way away for now, it is an interesting prospect and one that could ultimately set Scotland up for a more prosperous and lucrative future.


For now, Scottish ministers must continue to voice their concerns on the Brexit negotiations, and attempt to influence the UK government to achieve an amicable deal for all parties involved. Only once a deal has been agreed can the future of Scotland be fully assessed, and a judgement made on whether or not an emphasis on finance and financial services will boost the economy.