Regardless of the referendum result, Scotland’s financial sector already has a new road map.

For Graeme Jones, installed as chief executive in January, the navigational buzzword is not single market but fintech.

Successor to SFE chief executives from the worlds of business and the civil service, the unassuming Mr Jones, 57, is happy to note that he is a “36-years time-served tradesman” in the insurance sector.

He has served all of that time in Edinburgh, yet can boast senior UK-wide management roles in three of SFE’s biggest members - Aviva, RBS and Standard Life.

It qualifies him pretty well to lead the trade body’s new mission, to engage with and anticipate the rapid changes taking place in the sector, driven by digital technology.

Mr Jones says: “If you look at your ‘risk bubble’ map - all plcs have one – you will probably find that most of this stuff is more dangerous to a company than constitutional change.”

While admitting the importance of “favourable regulatory conditions” - which the sector will have to fight for in or out of the EU – the seasoned executive paints a bigger picture of the hand of cards needed for corporate survival, with fintech the ace.

“We need to be clear as a group about what are the conditions that need to be in place for us to be successful, looking at the big infrastructure things, broadband, big data transfer, where we need government help. Having a good pipeline of skilled people is probably the most important thing for employers.

“But we should be more worried about digitalisation, globalisation, blockchain, because those are the ones that could easily take you out. If you think about who we are competing against in fintech, it is someone tapping away on a computer in Manila or Dublin or Singapore.”

Last month SFE launched the FinTech Strategy Group, chaired by RBS’s head of design Louise Smith, with more than 30 specialists from companies including Aberdeen Asset Management, Standard Life and Swiss banking technology group Avaloq. It aims to identify new opportunities, map out employment needs and draw up a five-year strategy for success

Mr Jones has also set up a high-level strategy group, focused on education and training, and attracting new partnerships and investments, while admitting: “If you don’t apply metrics it becomes a bit of talking-shop. A great result would be no loss of jobs, but we decided to have some ambition and target an increase of 20 per cent by 2020.”

He says Scotland already has Edinburgh’s School of Infomatics, the Scottish Financial Risk Academy and Glasgow’s Economic Leadership Forum. “We recognise that we need a big marketing campaign that puts Scotland on the map,” Mr Jones says.

“The sector has 200,000 jobs directly and indirectly in Scotland, five years from now we believe we will still have 200,000 jobs, but people will be doing different things.”

Fintech covers e-banking, payment technologies, crowdfunding, money transfer, digital currencies like bitcoin, and ‘robo’ advice - automated investment guidance delivered using algorithms.

It’s a far cry from the St Andrew Square offices of Eagle Star where Mr Jones began his career, fresh from Dingwall Academy and Aberdeen University. “Everybody’s plan was to go and work offshore, but people then realised one month on, one month off, was not as interesting had its drawbacks."

In 12 years at Standard Life he rose to manager of sales process and operations at a time of new regulation under the Personal Investment Authority. “We worked collaboratively, while the Pru was confrontationa, and never once did Standard Life get fined. Scott Bell (former chief executive) used to say whoever gets us fined won’t be here next day.”

He adds: “Usually most people instinctively know what is the right thing to do, and Standard Life encouraged you to do the right thing and that has stayed with me.”

After only four years away from St Andrew Square (at Standard’s new HQ) Mr Bell moved back there in 2000, at the invitation of former colleague now Tesco Bank boss Benny Higgins, to become head of regulated sales at RBS. The job morphed into head of distribution with the bank’s joint venture partner Aviva Life, sitting on the board of IFA Promotion which waves the flag for independent advice and on a committee of the Association of British Insurers.

“It was a huge job within the company itself, with the added attraction of two lobbyist-type roles,” Mr Jones says.

But when invited to move to Aviva HQ at York, the pull of Edinburgh was too strong. “I had put a deposit down on a house – but I didn’t really want to go.”

He accepted a lower-grade job with Experian, and stayed in Scotland. “It was an utter gamble, I said to Experian I wasn’t sure if I was going to remain with them. I got started, rapidly became an executive, then director of banking and financial services, and latterly senior partner.” He adds: “If you are prepared to have a bit of flexibility you can build a successful career in Edinburgh.”

”He says SFE must be a thought leader which can pull together a vision for the sector. “By the time a plc says it is making 1000 people redundant, it is too late.”