It is probably fair to say that 2018 will be remembered by many for the UK’s preparations ahead of Brexit.
At the time of writing, the details of how the country plans to leave the European Union have still to be finalised and exactly how it will affect us all remains to be seen.
However, as 2018 draws to a close, we can also look back on 12 months that have had much to be positive about across Scotland. Entrepreneurial spirit is thriving, particularly in the digital sphere, and complementing this, the nation’s Fintech sector continues to flourish.
At Deloitte, we’ve worked to support business and provide insight on what the country does well and identify areas for improvement. Being a positive force for the nation’s business sector is a key focus of our work.
Early in 2018, we launched our annual Disrupt the Enterprise competition aimed at identifying a business with the potential to revolutionise its target sector. A six-month consultancy was the prize afforded to the winner Amiqus, which offers anti-money laundering and compliance checks for regulated professionals. Their success and the achievements of those like them highlights the ability young companies have to transform the Scottish economy and its business landscape.
Successfully disrupting established business practices is also an integral part of Scotland’s burgeoning Fintech scene. This year, Deloitte was named as the Strategic Professional Services Provider for FinTech Scotland. Working with the body aiming to establish Scotland as a global Fintech centre, we aim to provide insights from our experience and connections globally to benefit the local scene. This led us to create Fintech Cities, a playbook aimed at helping cities, regions and countries to define a blueprint and strategy to accelerate the growth of an eco-system and emerge on the global stage.
We hosted a datathon (an advanced hackathon) as part of DataFest 2018. Using open data sources from places like the World Economic Forum and UK Government, participating teams were able to draw insights and propose solutions to financial issues. The hugely successful event highlighted the inclusive social possibilities available through Fintech and Internet of Things technology.
Indeed, Deloitte published its Power Up: UK-Wide Growth report in November. We found out that while Scotland has outperformed the UK average in productivity growth over the last 10 years, closing a previous gap, the growth rate has declined across the UK as a whole since the financial crash. Job creation has also grown over the past eight years. The report notes an area where things can be improved is in addressing low growth and upskilling talent pools to capitalise on advancing technology.
Our State of the State report, now in its 7th year, is informed by a citizen survey, which provides a platform for the most important voice of all in the public sector. Our interviews this year made clear that the ethos of Scotland’s public sector is unique within the UK. Many described a political outlook that manifests itself as a collective, national desire to address inequalities that play out as life chances. Some were clear that Scotland could be shifting to a more Scandinavian model of more extensive, better funded public sector interventions paid for by higher tax rates.
We have proudly sponsored the Summit Entrepreneurship Awards for several years and have had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing the well-deserved nominees. The 2018 shortlist was particularly strong and the finalists were all able to demonstrate exceptional leadership skills that enabled them to overcome significant challenges. In particular, Derek Pierce, managing director of J&D Pierce Contracts deserves special praise after he was named Entrepreneur of the Year.
The successful delivery of these headline projects can only be achieved with top-quality support and it is a source of pride that our talented and enthusiastic senior team has grown during the year. We have appointed seven new directors and three partners - two of these partners in our Aberdeen office. Their drive and determination matches the commitment of our firm to invest in and grow across Scotland.
It hasn’t just been about business however, and at Deloitte we are always keen to help across the communities we are based in. A recent example of this would be at the Sleep in the Park events in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Nearly £16,000 was raised with over 40 members of staff taking part – a fantastic achievement.
It has been a hugely busy and eventful year with 2019 already showing no signs of slowing down. While the political situation is likely to have some impact on businesses across the country, contingency plans can be prepared. We look forward to continuing to support, advise and deliver on the opportunities the year will no doubt bring.