Scottish independence – can we cope with more change?

It’s fair to say the prospect of a yes vote in the forthcoming Scottish independence referendum has not been welcomed by many in the financial services fraternity.

Whatever views one might have about political and economic ramifications, it is clear that most of the industry would not welcome the huge amount of work required to unpick a financial union that has been in place since 1707. In the mortgage market in particular concerns have been raised about how mortgages could be denominated and regulated were the union to be dissolved.

Some may argue what’s new? Financial services is often accused of being resistant to change and as an industry we do tend to lag behind others when it comes to dynamism. In fact, the popular view held by people even within the industry, let alone outsiders looking in, is of ponderous creaking old companies beset by inertia and conservatism.

While its far to say the ability to be agile is easier in some other industries than it is in financial services I do think this popular view is unfair. Let’s take our very own mortgage market as an example. The pace of change in mortgages over the last few years has been significant. We have seen the introduction of the Mortgage Market Review (MMR), and the Consumer Credit Conduct of Business all come down the line. This coupled with the introduction of Help to Buy, increasing transactions as the market recovers and getting back on our feet after the worst financial crisis in living memory presented some serious challenges to the status quo.

Rather than standing still serious players in the mortgage market have had to be in perpetual motion because, as the swathe of new lenders looking to enter the market proves, standing still can prove very costly. As an industry we all can cope with change and it is those firms that manage transition most effectively that gain a competitive advantage in what is left in its wake.

As with any change, those that respond proactively, that have access to the best systems and expertise and manage transformation efficiently are going to put themselves in a good position to take advantage of any new landscape. We as an industry are well versed in dealing with change despite what people may say. We have dealt with new regulatory and economic terra firma often. Of course managing an actual reforming of UK borders may be one of the most challenging transitions yet. But firms that build agility into their systems and processes are always well positioned to deal with any changes as and when they arise.