JIM Pettigrew, unveiled as the next chairman of Scottish Financial Enterprise, has declared the financial sector north of the Border has “huge potential” and emphasised the importance of its “role in society”.

Financial services industry veteran Mr Pettigrew, who is chairman of Glasgow-based Clydesdale Bank, will succeed merchant banker Sir Ewan Brown as chairman of SFE on July 1. Sir Ewan is retiring from the role, having held it for four years.

SFE noted the chairman post was unpaid.

Mr Pettigrew, who completed his one-year term as president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) in April, cited “people” as the main asset of the Scottish financial services sector. And he highlighted the contribution of the Scottish education system in this regard.

He said: “I feel there is huge potential for the Scottish financial services industry to play a huge part in the economy, people’s lives, and globally.”

Mr Pettigrew added: “The financial services industry in Scotland – it is huge. There is a lot of people involved in it. Scotland, historically and down the years, has had some wonderful financial services businesses and people in them.”

Asked what he believed was the main asset of the Scottish financial services sector, Mr Pettigrew replied: “People. Scottish education brings on people. It is the ability to, ultimately, be innovative and creative, while at the same time thinking very carefully about the role in society and customers.”

Mr Pettigrew, a keen supporter of the Waverley paddle steamer, acknowledged Scotland’s financial services sector was operating in a “tough” environment.

He meanwhile revealed he had been approached about taking the SFE job.

Mr Pettigrew said: “I have just finished as ICAS president. You do a year there. I really enjoyed that, being part of that and trying to make a difference there. When they [SFE] approached me, I thought, ‘That is really interesting’. That was the genesis of it.”

He declined to estimate how many days a month, on average, he might spend on his SFE duties.

Mr Pettigrew said: “Averages are always difficult. If there is a need there, obviously I will spend as much time as I need.”

He observed SFE had a “very capable team”, which is led by chief executive Graeme Jones.

Mr Pettigrew, a former chief executive officer of CMC Markets and past finance director of ICAP, said: “My role is to try to help support [and] challenge where appropriate.”

He added: “It is an exciting time to be joining SFE. I look forward to working with Graeme and SFE members to develop a shared vision which places the industry’s role in society and serving customers firmly at its centre.”

Sir Ewan said: “I am delighted to be handing over the reins of SFE to someone with the wealth of experience and talent which Jim has to offer. Jim has worked across a range of financial services sectors, and the expertise he brings with him will be tremendously valuable to the work of SFE.”

He added: “It is a time of fast-paced change in financial services, and the landscape in which we are operating, both in Scotland and internationally, is constantly evolving. With this in mind, we have embarked on a number of new initiatives at SFE to bring together a shared strategic direction for the industry in Scotland and its part in society.”