THE pressure on accountancy firms to invest in financial technology to improve services for clients was cited as a key factor as another long-established Scottish practice was snapped up by a major player.

Scott-Moncrieff, which can trace its roots back to 1792, has become the latest UK firm to become part of Stafford-based Baldwins, owned ultimately by the £500 million turnover CogitalGroup.

The “merger” deal sees the Edinburgh firm follow the same path of Renfrew-based Campbell Dallas, which became part of the CogitalGroup network in 2017. And it means the CogitalGroup operation in Scotland now includes 45 partners and more than 500 staff in 11 offices, having been swelled by 16 partners and 220 staff from Scott-Moncrieff.

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Stewart MacDonald, managing partner at Scott-Moncrieff, said: “The accountancy market is changing rapidly, and the amount of money required to invest in new technology is vast and getting bigger all the time. A number of the things we have been doing for years and years can now be done by smart technology and apps. Rather than reinvent the wheel, we wanted to join a firm who is ahead of the game, and is already developing technology to make client services quicker and faster.”

Mr MacDonald, who joined Scott-Moncrieff in 1999 and will remain as managing partner for the “foreseeable” future, added: “It also gives our staff more opportunities for promotion, and different career development.”

The Scott-Moncrieff name will continue under the new ownership with its offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness remaining open. Mr MacDonald said that it is part of the CogitalGroup strategy to preserve the identities of the firms it acquires in local markets, noting that this happened when Campbell Dallas and other firms in England have joined the group.

He said of Scott-Moncrieff: “When you have been around for that length of time there is a cache to the name, and they are keen to make sure it continues. It has great respect in the financial sectors and markets it works in.”

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As a result of Scott-Moncrieff merging with Campbell Dallas, CogitalGroup has a combined fee income of £40m, with plans to expand.

Asked whether he believes CogitalGroup will do further deals to in Scotland, Mr MacDonald said he expects expansion to come from a “combination” of acquisitions and organic growth. Noting that CogitalGroup will continue to make “smart” takeovers, and “not make acquisitions for acquisitions’ sake”, he said organic growth should not be underplayed.

CogitalGroup, led by former Deloitte global chairman John Connolly, has 6,000 employees in 181 offices across seven countries, turning over £500m.

Baldwins’ director Shaun Knight, said: “This exciting news underlines our commitment to further growth in Scotland and will give businesses the ability to access our specialist services including banking and finance, insolvency and forensic accounting.

"We are looking forward to welcoming our new colleagues who share a similar ethos to our own and this is a fantastic opportunity to strengthen our position in the country.”