Standard Life

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Standard Life plc
Public company
Traded as LSESL.
Industry Financial services
Founded 1825; 192 years ago (1825)
Headquarters Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Key people
Sir Gerry Grimstone, Chairman
Keith Skeoch, CEO from August 2015
Revenue £18,729 million (2016)[1]
£723 million (2016)[1]
£419 million (2016)[1]
Number of employees
6,300 (2017)[2]

Standard Life plc is an investment company with headquarters in Edinburgh and operations around the globe. It has 1.2 million shareholders in more than 50 countries[2] and 4.5 million customers and clients worldwide, with a further 25 million customers through joint ventures in China and India.[3]

In March 2017, the company reached an agreement to merge with the investment company Aberdeen Asset Management.


The Standard Life Assurance Company was established in 1825 and was reincorporated as a mutual assurance company in 1925.[4] During the 19th century it opened offices in Canada, India, China and Uruguay.[4]

In 2006 demutualisation took place and the company was floated on the London Stock Exchange.[5] The company sold Standard Life Bank plc to Barclays plc in January 2010[6] and then acquired the remaining 75 per cent stake in Threesixty, a financial advisory support business, that it did not already own for an undisclosed sum in March 2010.[7] It sold its healthcare division to Discovery Holdings, a South African business, in May 2010[8] and went on to buy Focus Solutions Group, a financial software company, for £42m in December 2010.[9]

Head office building located at
30 Lothian Road in Edinburgh

In February 2013, the company announced that it had acquired the private client division of Newton Management Limited, a UK wealth management unit of BNY Mellon, in a deal worth up to £83.5 million.[10] In March 2014, it was announced that Standard Life was in advanced talks to purchase rival Phoenix Group Holdings’ Ignis Asset Management for around £400 million.[11] Towards the end of the month, Standard Life completed the acquisition for a fee of £390 million.[12] In September 2014, Standard Life agreed to sell its Canadian operations to The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company, a subsidiary of Manulife Financial Corporation.[13] It completed this sale on 30 January 2015 for a cash consideration of C$4.0bn. The transaction included a Global Collaboration Agreement where Manulife will seek to distribute Standard Life Investments' funds in Canada, the US and Asia.[14] In a round-up of 2014 business, pre-tax profits rose by 19% to £604m, fee-based revenue during the year grew 14% to 1.43bn, and over 340,000 auto-enrolment customers were added. The pay and bonus of Chief Executive, David Nish, rose by 23% to almost £5.5m.[15]

In February 2015, Standard Life announced it was launching a wholly owned, UK-wide, financial advice business saying it was “responding to fundamental changes that were driving unprecedented demand for advice from customers”.[16] In doing so, it confirmed that it had entered into an agreement with Skipton Building Society to purchase Pearson Jones,[17] a firm of financial advisers and paraplanners, and this acquisition was completed in May 2015 when the name of its new financial advice business was announced as “1825” – a reference to the year Standard Life was founded.[18] In July 2016, a property investment fund managed by Standard Life Investments froze withdrawals after experiencing liquidity issues.[19][20]

In March 2017, Standard Life reached an agreement to merge with Aberdeen Asset Management, in an all-share merger, subject to shareholder approval.[21]


Standard Life is an investment company, headquartered in Edinburgh, with operations across the globe.[22] It employs around 6,300 people internationally[2] through businesses in the UK, Europe, North America, Asia and Australasia. It has around 4.5 million customers and clients across 45 countries and is responsible for the administration of over £360bn of their assets. The company has a further 25 million customers through its Indian and Chinese associate and joint venture businesses - HDFC Life in India and Heng An Standard Life in China.[22]

In the UK, Standard Life also owns three subsidiary businesses: Focus Solutions, a software and consultancy business, threesixty, a services provider and Vebnet, a software and services provider.[23]

Standard Life has a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange, and has around 1.2 million individual shareholders.[24] It is also listed in a number of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI), including the DJSI World, which ranks the world's leading sustainability-driven publicly listed companies.[25]

Senior management[edit]

The company’s board of directors is made up of a Chairman, four Executive Directors and seven non-Executive Directors.[26] The board has nine men and three women. Details of the Chairman and Executive Directors include:

  • Sir Gerry Grimstone (Chairman) appointed in May 2007
  • Keith Skeoch (Chief Executive) appointed on 5 August 2015, replacing David Nish
  • Luke Savage (Chief Financial Officer) appointed in August 2014
  • Colin Clark (Director, Global Client Group) appointed in November 2015
  • Barry O'Dwyer (CEO, Pensions and Savings) appointed in March 2017

The non-executive directors are:

  • Pierre Danon, appointed in October 2011
  • Noel Harwerth, appointed in July 2012
  • Lynne Peacock, appointed in April 2012
  • Martin Pike, appointed in September 2013
  • Kevin Parry, appointed in October 2014
  • Melanie Gee, appointed in November 2015
  • John Devine, appointed in July 2016


In January 2006, Standard Life were accused of smearing a policy-holder, Michael Hogan, who was not happy with the way the company was being run. An e-mail sent to Standard Life executives and advisors (which was disclosed under the Data Protection Act) revealed an attempt to discredit him.[27]

In January 2007, the head of Standard Life's life and pensions business, Trevor Matthews, used the racist phrase "nigger in the woodpile" while giving a presentation at one of the company's Edinburgh offices. After issuing an apology, Mr Matthews remained in his job and no disciplinary action was taken.[28]

In March 2007 the company announced it would cut 1,000 jobs in an attempt to save an additional £100 million per year in costs.[29] One month later it was highlighted in the company's annual report that three of Standard Life's top executives (Sandy Crombie, Keith Skeoch and Trevor Matthews) were awarded more than £5 million in pay.[30] A Standard Life spokesman defended the awards, citing the leadership's efforts in turning round the company's fortunes.[30]

In February 2014, Standard Life announced that it may move parts of their operations outside Scotland in the event of Scottish independence, if it was necessary to do so.[31]


  1. ^ a b c "Annual Report 2016" (PDF). Retrieved 14 April 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c "About Standard Life". Retrieved 14 April 2017. 
  3. ^ "London Stock Exchange Market News". Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Standard Life history: One of the first Empire builders The Scotsman, 2 September 2010
  5. ^ Standard Life policyholders rush to cash in on flotation The Guardian, 24 September 2006
  6. ^ Barclays buys Standard Life Bank for £226m Daily Telegraph, 26 October 2009
  7. ^ Standard Life takes full control of Threesixty The Scotsman, 15 March 2010
  8. ^ Standard Life sells healthcare division BBC News, 11 May 2010
  9. ^ Standard Life buys Focus for £42m BBC News, 7 December 2010
  10. ^ Nicole Blackmore (27 February 2013). "Standard Life Wealth acquires Newton's private client division". Fundweb. 
  11. ^ Richa Naidu (24 March 2014). "Standard Life in advanced talks to buy Phoenix asset management unit". Reuters. 
  12. ^ Simon Jessop (26 March 2014). "Standard Life ramps up fund business with Ignis acquisition". Reuters. 
  13. ^ Manulife to buy Standard Life's Canadian assets for $3.7 billion. Reuters, 4 September 2014
  14. ^ "CityAM News - Disposal of Canadian Companies". CityAM. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  15. ^ "BBC News - Standard Life reports sharp rise in operating profit". BBC News. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  16. ^ "London Stock Exchange, Market News". London Stock Exchange. 6 February 2015. 
  17. ^ "Standard Life completes purchase of Pearson Jones in £1bn advice play". Professional Adviser. 11 May 2015. 
  18. ^ "Standard Life names restricted advice business 1825". Professional Adviser. 1 May 2015. 
  19. ^ Osborne, Hilary; Treanor, Jill; Osborne, Hilary; Treanor, Jill (4 July 2016). "Standard Life shuts property fund amid rush of Brexit withdrawals". Retrieved 14 April 2017 – via The Guardian. 
  20. ^ Williams-Grut, Oscar (5 July 2016). "'2016 is shaping up to be a rerun of 2007:' A giant UK property fund is stopping people taking money out". Retrieved 14 April 2017. 
  21. ^ "Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life confirm merger terms". BBC News. 6 March 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2017. 
  22. ^ a b "Standard Life PLC (SL.L) Company Profile". Retrieved 2013-04-04. 
  23. ^ Sullivan, Nicola (2010-12-08). "Standard Life acquires Focus Solutions to enhance corporate wrap | News". Employee Benefits. Retrieved 2013-04-04. 
  24. ^ "STANDARD LIFE PLC ORD 10P Share Price - Shares". London Stock Exchange. 2006-07-10. Retrieved 2013-04-04. 
  25. ^ "Standard Life plc Joins Top 10% of Companies in the World - EDINBURGH, Scotland, October 24, 2011 /PRNewswire/". 2011-10-24. Retrieved 2013-04-04. 
  26. ^ "Standard Life PLC, SL.:LSE company performance -". Retrieved 2013-04-04. 
  27. ^ Richard Dyson, Mail on Sunday29 January 2006, 12:00 am (29 January 2006). "Is Standard Life fighting fair?". Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  28. ^ Treanor, Jill; Treanor, Jill (26 January 2007). "Standard Life boss apologises for making racist remark". Retrieved 14 April 2017 – via The Guardian. 
  29. ^ Standard Life in bid to axe 1,000 jobs Evening Times, 23 March 2007
  30. ^ a b "Fury at £5m for Standard Life bosses". Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  31. ^ BBC (27 February 2014). "Scottish independence: Standard Life draws up 'Yes' contingency plan". BBC. Retrieved 27 February 2014. 

External links[edit]