Economics of Independence Pensions

Financial giant backs independent Scotland’s economy to succeed

gilbert_104314cMartin Gilbert, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Asset Management (including Scottish Widows Investment Partnership), has backed the economy of an independent Scotland to be a success. The entrepreneur, who co-founded the company in 1983, said last night to the BBC that “An independent Scotland would be a great success.”

Gilbert’s company is one of the largest business organisations in Scotland with substantial holdings of over £350 billion. It’s success is built on both its intellectual capital and Scotland’s advantages in the financial services sector.

Gilbert’s vote of confidence in Scotland’s strengths was matched by Sir Angus Grossart, Chair of Edinburgh bank Nobel Grossart, who said that the referendum’s impact on market instability has been “severely overstated”. He continued “To hear some of the comments you almost expect people to be predicting a plague of locusts or mice next.”

Royal Bank of Scotland contradicts No Campaign

Today the No Campaign’s focus on company registration has been substantially over stated.

Last night the Royal Bank of Scotland made it clear that they do not intend to move operations or jobs. They will “retain a significant level of its operations and employment in Scotland”.

Ross McEwan, RBS Chief Executive, said registration “is a technical procedure regarding the location of our registered head office. It is not an intention to move operation or jobs.”

Any move would of course be a gigantic waste of money and time to relocate physical assets, including staffing and buildings. This would be an even greater waste given that these costs are substantially lower in Scotland than London and the South-East.

This is a familiar pattern to Business for Scotland’s explanation last February that contingency planning in relation to legal structures should not be confused with investment.  The No Campaign has confused registration with business activity.

Business case for independence grows

Meanwhile an increasing number of high-profile business people have now backed the Yes Campaign, as the polls grow ‘too close to call’. Business for Scotland released another series of company directors and employers in the media yesterday.

These intervention follow others from within the financial services sector. In March a host of finance sector figures wrote in the Financial Times that “There are certainly opportunities to attract more jobs and investment to Scotland with the powers of independence and significant opportunities in an independent Scotland for financial services.”

Financial services such as pensions management, investment funds and building societies remain crucial to the economic system. Scotland’s wider strength in this area will be beneficial for an independent country.

Financial services experience will contribute to a strong position on affairs including borrowing on the international credit markets, negotiating and managing shares of national assets and liabilities, and constructing plans for investment, growth and innovation.

This is one of Scotland’s many economic strengths – alongside Scotland’s vast natural resources, skilled population, links to trading markets and excellent products and services.

With full economic control Scotland will be a wealthy country with the ability to create more jobs and investment opportunities.

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About the author

Michael Gray

Michael is Head of Research with Business for Scotland.

A graduate from the University of Glasgow, he has carried out a series of interviews with academics, politicians and the public in Denmark, Iceland and Ireland. Michael's on twitter @GrayInGlasgow.


  • Hi Gordon

    I was just wondering if anyone had put together figures for the total Scottish tax take every year, chuck in everything like the bank tax take, every Asda, Tesco, Morrisons, Top shop , mothercare, Shell petrol station etc etc

    My thinking is that when we win these companies will all have to pay their Scottish raised tax take in our country. ( like I would have to pay Italian tax if i had a company in Italy)

    I listened to Ivan on RS lunchtime and he said that RBS moving to London would mean that we would still get “our share” of their tax take to the Scottish Gov.

    Any thoughts and if it’s a huge amount, let’s get people talking about it !


    • Ivan is correct corporation tax is calculated into GERS without the amount that would be generated out-with Scotland already so a technical registration change would make no tax revenue difference.

  • I find it strange that the two banks that are under government control following the 2008 recession are the ones who are barking loudest about the potential changes they would wish to make if Scotland votes YES. Was it also not the leaders of the No campaign that created the rescue package which stripped Scotland of it’s ancient financial banking heritage (i.e. Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling). Am I missing something here? Why isn’t the media reflecting on the fact that the advice the NO camp are receiving is from those who brought the UK Financially to its knees in that recession? Has RBS and LLoydes worked out the cost of property in London to house this change and the cost & quality of staff available in the centre of UK’s Financial district?

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