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Scottish advisers fear referendum fallout

Ian Leech

Many are calling on the FCA to outline what regulations will apply if Scotland’s voters opt for independence on 18 September.

Stuart Brown, a partner at Northumberland-based Tyne and Tweed Mortgage and Investment Services, said: “The FCA will not even confirm which of our qualifications will apply. It will not answer questions about who will regulate me if we go for independence.

“Potentially we are running a business with two lots of regulatory burden and two lots of fees. If I am paying fees to both Scotland and England, my clients’ fees go up at the same time.

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“Absolutely a ‘yes’ vote will have an impact on our business – a potentially significant impact.”

Alan Dick, owner of Glasgow-based Forty Two Wealth Management, predicts there will be difficulties in trading with England: “My gut feeling is that it will be bad. Cross-border trading will be a hindrance. It will need a separate financial services regulatory authority and that is a massive drain on everybody’s finances. In the short term, I don’t think there will be any difference whatsoever.

“But in the long term, I don’t think anybody knows what will happen. Politicians speak with forked tongues. I don’t believe either of the sides. I don’t know what the truth is.”

But Duncan Glassey, founder of Edinburgh-based Wealthflow, was more upbeat: “We invest on a global basis, so I don’t see any impact on my clients’ wealth. From a purely financial point of view, if there was a ‘yes’ vote, it could be argued we would have to have our own regulator.

“I don’t see that as a bad thing. The UK is respected for regulation, and in a way we can help the rest of the world with that. A ‘yes’ vote would be good for the whole of the UK. It would give the UK a jolt.

“It would make people realise there are different priorities in different parts of the UK.”

Owen Kelly, chief executive of Edinburgh-based Scottish Financial Enterprise, said earlier this year that some of the most important aspects of Scottish independence would be unknown before the vote because they would depend on the outcome of negotiations with the UK.

Many of these things, such as the use of sterling as currency, and the terms of EU membership could only begin after a ‘yes’ vote, he said.

Much of the political context is also considered to be unknown for a potentially independent Scotland, according to Mr Kelly.