Economy in Deloitte in Scotland
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If Edinburgh is to be the data capital of Europe, we must use this as a platform to create and build solutions that can tackle some important issues. Examples of this could be in addressing challenges such as low levels of financial inclusion, a lack of financial education and awareness and help to structure a broader support network for marginalised communities such as the homeless, or supporting in reducing mental health issues caused by a lack of assistance for some people struggling to manage their finances.
History is littered with examples of brands that once dominated their respective markets but, through a combination of lack of innovation, inefficient execution and focusing internally instead of on customers, have gone on to suffer a massive fall in market share against rivals.
Over the past few months, I have been working across several cities and regions, which have or hope to create, a fintech hub. Although they are all very different, in terms of their existing strengths, their potential, their approach and their progress, at their heart, the process each of these countries are going through to create an effective ecosystem is very similar and in many ways highly repeatable.
Scotland’s sluggish economic performance over the last few years has been well-documented. In the face of a difficult period for the North Sea oil and gas industry and, more recently, a decline in construction activity and subdued growth in services, the country’s economy has struggled to build any significant momentum. But could that be about to change? Progress is slow and continues to lag behind the UK, but there is an air of cautious optimism.
To support Deloitte’s leadership role in developing the Fintech strategy in Scotland, we recently ran a workshop with the University of Edinburgh’s MSc Accountancy & Finance students to bring to life the complexities of developing and launching a Fintech start-up. With brilliant mentorship from Craig Paterson of the Data Lab, we set 3 teams the challenge of building a business case with projected expenditure and revenues, considering recent market opportunities presented by Open Banking, and capabilities such as artificial intelligence and robotics.
With the introduction of the Scottish income tax, we now have a more direct link between the economy, tax receipts and the Scottish Budget. The significance of the Barnett Formula block grant has been reduced, and this will expose the budget in Scotland to the risk of a reduction in economic performance but will mean that the Scottish Government will have more to spend if the economy grows.
With the end of the financial year upon us, now is a good time to reflect on Scotland’s economic performance over the last twelve months and perhaps more importantly, consider the challenges that lie ahead.
With DataFest 18 coming up and Deloitte’s team organising our second Datathon in the Edinburgh office, I’ve been thinking about how I went from being a casual competition-goer to a consultant in the firm. To quote one of our directors, I’ve gone “from Datathon to Deloitte” – a journey I didn’t necessarily expect to go through one year ago.
The deadline for 2016/17 tax returns is only days away. Those who are self-employed, receive rental or savings income over certain limits, or who have made capital gains over the annual exemption of £11,100 for 2016/17 will need to complete their self-assessment by the end of the month. People who receive child benefit and where the higher earner in the couple has income of over £50,000 are also affected.
The UK economy has proven its resilience and ability to successfully navigate change many times throughout history. But we can’t take this for granted. It’s critical that we remain competitive, retain our strength in innovation, develop and attract the skills our economy needs and convert that to inclusive growth and prosperity for all.