Heriot-Watt’s School of Management and Languages will be home to the new Scottish Ethical Finance Hub (SEFH), which will establish Scotland as a leader in this field. The hub has received backing from the leaders in the financial sector and the Scottish Government, and at Heriot-Watt will be led by Dr Robbie Mochrie, Associate Professor of Economics.
The SEFH concept has emerged from a series of roundtables held over five years, initiated by the Islamic Finance Council UK (UKIFC). Participants have represented a broad range of sectors including banking, asset management, faith groups, academia, government and the third sector.
The meaning of ethical finance
Dr Robbie Mochrie, associate professor of economics at Heriot-Watt University and a member of the SEFH steering group, added: “Since the crash in 2008, there has been a growing international demand for more ethical financial practices, whether that’s developing rules that people can sign up to, or principles and behaviours that are considered ethical.
“In hosting the Hub’s initial development, Heriot-Watt University can be a critical friend of the financial services sector. Our academics have expert knowledge of how the various markets and practices work, but don’t directly work in them.
“We’re able to question and hopefully point the way towards more ethical practice.”
Julian Parrott of Ethical Futures is a member of the steering committee for the Hub and have been involved in the planning and development including presentations to Scottish Government and City of Edinburgh Council. He told us: “The objective of the hub is to bring together a wide range of stakeholders to further awareness of the various strands of ethical, sustainable and responsible investment. In doing so we hope not only to contribute to the ‘conversations’ but also to make real impact by developing research and stimulating investment and collaborations in the sector.
“We are at early stages, but support from Scottish Government means that we can now start to develop a team to add focus to the vision and to position the hub for further development.”
John Swinney MSP, deputy first minister and cabinet secretary for finance, constitution and the economy, said, “The Scottish Ethical Finance Hub will see the Islamic Finance Council work with Heriot Watt University to develop a model that has the potential to make a real impact internationally.
“I’m pleased to say the Scottish Government is supporting this project with up to £50,000 of funding, which will allow Scotland to capitalise on the increased global profile of ethical finance and progress towards becoming a worldwide industry leader in the field.”
The SEFH began its residency at Heriot-Watt with a Thought Leadership event at the Edinburgh Campus yesterday with a discussion on how businesses can build a more sustainable world through ethical finance, focusing on existing challenges and potential solutions.