Scotland could become one of the top 30 financial services centres in the world regardless of the outcome of the independence referendum, according to a think-tank.

Business group N-56 said the strength of the sector could help realise the organisation's aim of the country becoming one of the top five wealthiest globally.

The comments follow the publication of a report commissioned by the group highlighting financial services were responsible for 8.5% of Scotland's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2011 and 9.6% of UK GDP.

The report, prepared by economic research company Capital Economics, argues Scotland is well placed to take advantage of increasing global demand for financial services driven by economic growth and an increase in the number of people retiring.

Significant opportunities exist in areas such as asset management, in which Scotland is already performing strongly, according to its analysis.

A single regulatory regime would benefit Scotland and the rest of the UK regardless of the result of September's referendum on independence, the report concludes.

It calls for the Scottish and UK governments to make clear statements of commitment to a strong financial services sector in Scotland, irrespective of the outcome.

The report is the latest in the Scotland Means Business series commissioned by the group, which was founded by Dan Macdonald, chairman of property firm Macdonald Estates and member of the advisory board of the Yes Scotland campaign for independence.

The referendum outcome "will have implications" for the financial services sector in Scotland but "most of the fundamental challenges and opportunities facing the sector apply whatever the outcome of that vote", the report says.

Mark Pragnell, head of commissioned projects at Capital Economics, said: "Whether independent or not, Scotland and the rest of the UK should ensure a stable regulatory framework, competitive tax regime and sensible immigration policies to retain talent in Scotland and attract individuals to work in the sector from elsewhere as well as more company divisional or corporate headquarters to locate there."

Graeme Blackett, of N-56, said: "The work by Capital Economics confirms that the financial services sector can contribute to the aim of N-56, for Scotland to become one of the top five wealthiest countries in the world.

"The recommendations in this report provide a basis for the sector to work with the Scottish and/or UK governments, to identify and build competitive advantages.

"In recognition of the important contribution that the sector can play, N-56 believes that an ambitious target should be set, for Scotland to become one of the top 30 financial services centres in the world."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The Scottish Government is well aware of the value of the industry to the Scottish economy. That is why the Financial Services Advisory Board is chaired at the highest level by the First Minister and attended by senior industry representatives to consider many of the issues raised in this report.

"With independence we can take control of our own wealth and resources and use our new powers to create more jobs and opportunities.

"Independence would also provide the Scottish Government and Parliament with the powers to set tax rates and thresholds which are right for Scotland and for our growth sectors, including financial services, allowing Scottish ministers to develop policies that will deliver sustainable economic growth and a fair society."