Blog: Glasgow Powerhouse: What are the future opportunities and challenges for the Financial Services sector in Glasgow?

Fraser Wilson
Fraser Wilson

Fraser Wilson, partner PwC Scotland, reflects on the journey of the Financial Services sector in Glasgow following PwC’s most recent Glasgow Powerhouse debate and shares his views on the opportunities that lie ahead.


Glasgow has developed a vibrant and successful financial services industry during the last decade, with strategic alignment of government, academia and industry bodies encouraging significant investment from leading global businesses. Our International Financial Services District and the 15,000 new high quality jobs this supports is something we should be rightly proud of - Glasgow now ranks alongside Edinburgh within a 2015 index of “Global Financial Centres”.

However, how is Glasgow placed in a global context? No longer is it feasible to consider local or national economies without understanding the competitive factors linking each of these economies to the emerging megatrends that will shape our future.

Glasgow must strengthen and develop its competitive edge in a period of continuing demographic changes through an aging population, a shift in global economic power to the east and unprecedented technological developments. Now is the time to consider how the financial services sector can contribute to the City of Glasgow for the next decade and beyond.

A picture of the future financial services landscape – or at least its broad features – is emerging from the remains of the financial crisis.

Driven by the impact of regulation, transformational technology and an emerging focus on customer outcomes, new breeds of agile and digitally enabled competitors are beginning to challenge established financial service organisations. Questions are being asked over the purpose and the value of traditional financial services institutions, with preserving reputation, culture and trust key issues. New regulation continues to emerge, elevating the cost of compliance, thus generating sustainable profits is challenging.

Organisations need to evolve to meet these challenges or ultimately risk becoming both uncompetitive and irrelevant. I would argue that this is also true of those cities who wish to remain competitive in an increasingly global economy. As a collective we need to address the question of: “What is Glasgow’s future role in the global financial services market, and role of financial services in the future of our city?”.

In answering the question, stakeholders must continue to invest in both human capital and infrastructure, as well ensuring we benefit from a stable regulatory, political and tax environment. These are non-negotiable when competing with other global locations who are equally keen to attract investment.

Glasgow’s strategic link to London as a leading global financial centre is critical to its ongoing success, however, future growth will require innovation and the embracing of new technologies to enable Glasgow to develop its own reputation and identity.

pwc_logoThe Glasgow Powerhouse series is a joint venture between PwC Glasgow and Strathclyde Business School designed to look at the economic future of Glasgow across key sectors of our city’s economy, and how Glasgow can be a powerhouse in each of these areas.

Each session provides the opportunity to hear from a panel of experts from the businesses and institutions of Glasgow, as well as the chance to add your voice to the debate.

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