Scotland and Asia’s Growing Financial Ties

Alex Salmond, Former First Minister of Scotland

Alex Salmond, Former First Minister of Scotland

Speaking exclusively to finews.asia the former First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, was upbeat on the increasing direct links between Scotland and Asia.

Alex Salmond was talking on the sidelines of the recent Credit Suisse Global Megatrends Conference in Singapore.

«The real strength of the Scottish financial sector has always been in Investment Management and Scotland is firmly entrenched as a leading investment centre and one of Europe’s principal financial hubs,» said Salmond.

The Investment Trust movement grew up in the 1870s out of Scotland as a vehicle for world-wide collective investment and was pioneered by a Scotsman, Robert Fleming. The primary investors were the owners of the Dundee based jute industry who wanted to invest their profits. Although Robert Fleming's fame is somewhat overshadowed by his grandson Ian Fleming – the novelist and creator of James Bond.

Growing Fintech Links

In Asia today Scottish Asset Managers such as Aberdeen Asset Management and Baillie Gifford have well-established businesses in the hubs of Hong Kong and Singapore.   

There are also growing fintech links between Scotland and Asia Pacific. With some of the world's best selling games originating out of Scotland such as «Lemmings» and «Grand Theft Auto» Salmond emphasised that the innovation and creativity that brought those best sellers to the market is also being directed to the banking and financial services sectors.

Asian Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWF) are consistent investors into Scotland in sectors such as Life Sciences and innovative renewable energy technologies like Tidal Flow Power.

Scottish Sovereign Wealth Fund Possible

A Scottish Sovereign Wealth Fund is something Salmond is still intensely keen to see established and remains incredulous that successive U.K. Governments never had the vision or business acumen to establish one.   

«A Scottish Sovereign Wealth Fund would, at the very least, be worth several hundred billion dollars today and is one way small countries insulate themselves against larger countries and economic downturns,» he commented.

He is an Admirer of the Norwegian SWF and their ethical investment standards and still sees a Scottish Sovereign Wealth fund becoming a reality.

«I am often asked by doubters just how long does the oil and gas legacy last for? The answer is of course forever, when you have a SWF,» he said.

Brexit and Scotland

With regard to the uncertainties hanging over the United Kingdom's (U.K.) economy by the potential withdrawal from the European Union (E.U.) Salmond sees inward investment into Scotland as a good hedge. He claims the Brexit risk is much reduced in Scotland. He explained that as Scotland overwhelmingly wishes to remain in and an active partner of the E.U. there is less risk for investors. He explained that if the U.K. votes to come out then Scotland will move to have another independence referendum to stay in Europe and leave the U.K.  

The Singaporean model Salmond says shows the importance of having access to free trade while also belonging to a larger regional community such as ASEAN.


Alex Salmond was born in Linlithgow in 1954. He studied at St Andrew's University, where he graduated with a joint honours MA in Economics and History. In 1980 he joined the Royal Bank of Scotland where he worked for seven years: first as an Assistant Economist before being appointed Oil Economist in 1982.

He was first elected as MP for Banff & Buchan in 1987 and made political history after becoming the first nationalist to be elected First Minister of Scotland on 16 May 2007. He stepped down in November 2014.In May 2015, he was elected as MP for Gordon as one of the famous SNP 56. He currently serves as the SNP's foreign affairs spokesperson in Westminster.

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