UK - Standard Life need not fear a client exodus despite the uncertainty over its future as a mutual, experts say.
The Financial Services Authority has held protracted talks with Standard Life over the strength of its balance sheet and the insurer is also considering abandoning its mutual status.
There has also been a change at the top with Standard Life Investments chief executive Sandy Crombie taking over as group chief executive from Iain Lumsden.
But Hargreaves Lansdown pensions research manager Tom McPhail said:
“We’re still happy to do business with Standard Life, it’s still on our panel of group personal pension plan providers. What is important is the quality of an organisation’s admin systems, processes and its employees.
“None of this needs to affect Standard Life and while there are bound to be short-term concerns, all the fundamentals are still in place. I expect Standard Life to continue to be a player in the GPP market.”
And Hymans Robertson senior partner George Henshil-wood said the mutual’s sister fund management company, Standard Life Investments, would not be adversely affected.
He said: “I’m relaxed about the impact on the investment company. I think it is better to have a chief executive who is a friend of the investment management company and Sandy is certainly one.
“I’m happy for them to fill the vacancy as they see fit. I don’t want them to make any knee-jerk reactions and appoint someone for the sake of it. If they take their time and make the proper appointment, they’ll be fine.”
But independent actuary Ronnie Sloan disagreed. He said: “The situation can only have diminished Standard’s ability to win business and to grow, and hence its value, whether as a listed company or as a mutual.”
He added: “The board seems to have shot itself in the foot, or rather its policyholders in the wallet.”
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