Pinsent Masons on why Scotland is the right choice for fintech

With our thriving financial services and fintech sector, not only is Scotland an excellent place to grow your business, you’ll also benefit from the support of our well-established hub of professional services companies. Find out how Pinsent Masons has supported the rapid growth of fintech in Scotland, working with both established businesses and startups.

Pinsent Masons, an international legal firm, provides specialist expertise and global connections for clients based in Scotland, or looking to relocate. The company has supported the rapid growth of the fintech sector in Scotland, with an influence that extends across financial services to other significant business sectors too.

With its strong presence in Scotland, Pinsent Masons is well-placed to keep up with developments and advise clients in the sector.

Michael Watson, Head of Finance and Projects at Pinsent Masons, explains:

Michael Watson, Pinsent Masons

Strong skills in corporate finance

"Across our Scottish offices, there are different strengths. Our Edinburgh office has a strong focus on financial services, with a strong regulatory skill set and expertise in high-end corporate finance. Add to this our growing knowledge of fintech — an important and buoyant sector for the city.

"Historically, Glasgow has been strong on the corporate finance side and now also includes a group of technology specialists who service clients all round the world."

"Businesses frequently choose to locate in Scotland simply because of the depth of the talent pool. This is testament to the quality of our universities and graduates, but it’s also about strong networks, technical knowledge of a sector and financial expertise."

Michael Watson, Head of Finance and Projects, Pinsent Masons

Rapid rise in Scotland's fintech excellence

Based in Glasgow, Yvonne Dunn leads Pinsent Masons financial services technology practice. She specialises in advising on technology, including outsourcing, systems development and integration, e-commerce and IT procurement.

Yvonne says: "Fintech has developed rapidly over the last few years. It’s an extension of work we were already doing. We provide expertise that supports financial services companies who are looking at migrating services to the Cloud, helping them to tackle regulatory challenges.

"Our clients include both large, established, financial services providers and startups in the fintech sector. As well as providing advice and expertise, we can provide introductions, connecting the innovative and disruptive ideas that often come from startups, with the larger, more established players."

Yvonne has been pleased to see, and contribute to, Scotland’s development as a fintech hub. 

Glasgow city centre

"In the last few years we've seen Scotland become the UK’s second centre for fintech after London. I think there are clear reasons for that."

Yvonne Dunn, financial services technology practice lead, Pinsent Masons

A strategic focus for fintech in Scotland

Yvonne says: "We've some very high-profile businesses headquartered in Scotland. We also have world-renowned universities, contributing to the knowledge base. Scotland’s relatively small scales can be helpful too. There are strong networks and ways of getting things done.

She adds: "All of that together makes Scotland a strong contender, but the icing on the cake has been the development of FinTech Scotland. Having an organisation like this provides a strategic focus for the development of fintech in Scotland.

"It means that we’re all pulling in the same direction. Pinsent Masons is a strategic partner on the newly established board of FinTech Scotland and working with other high-profile colleagues to help establish our priorities for the next few years."

Scotland has the right mix

Not only is Scotland a good place for the thriving fintech sector. Over time it has also proved to be an excellent base for a global legal firm with a strong focus on financial services.

Michael Watson is clear about the overall reasons:

Scale of financial services

Michael says: “In general, growth at Pinsent Masons has been tied to the growth of the financial services sector. Edinburgh is the UK’s largest financial services centre after London and is the base for a great deal of global investment."

Quality of talent

"Businesses frequently choose to locate in Scotland simply because of the depth of the talent pool. This is testament to the quality of our universities and the graduates they produce, but it's also about strong networks, technical knowledge of a sector and financial expertise."

Connectivity with London and the rest of the world

The scale and span of Pinsent Masons’ business brings major benefits to its clients, including collaborations across sectors and across continents. With a strong base in Scotland and growing interests around the world, the firm is the third largest in the UK and the 25th largest globally, with offices in 23 countries across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

Michael says: "The way we're set up, everything is run on a global basis — it’s all about connectivity and collaborating. We’re not asking ourselves: how's the Edinburgh office doing? Or, how's the Johannesburg office? We’re interested in how our groups and sectors are performing globally.

“Increasingly, I find people view Edinburgh and London as effectively part of the one market. If you're based in Hong Kong or Korea and looking for legal advice you don't necessarily draw a distinction between whether someone is at a desk in Edinburgh or in London.

"Lower costs can make Edinburgh a competitive option for an office, but the close connections with London and elsewhere mean that high quality work can be done from here.

"Transport connectivity is extremely relevant. Back in 2010, the First Minister of Scotland opened our Qatar office. This followed on from a new flight connection between Qatar and Edinburgh, which makes it effective for us to work there.

"Another recent example is Johannesburg. I’ve been involved in setting up the office there and it’s as easy for me to fly to Johannesburg as for my London colleagues. Edinburgh is well-connected as a place for international business."

Living in Scotland is a pleasure

"I have chosen to base my family life here in Edinburgh, and there are so many benefits," explains Michael. "It’s a beautiful place to live, with excellent healthcare and education opportunities.

"I think it’s an important principle to recognise that Scotland’s productivity will be influenced by increased connectivity and continuing to improve the quality of living here, such that we attract and retain the best people."

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If you'd like to hear more about the experience of Pinsent Masons and how Scotland could be a good fit for your financial services business, we're here to help.