Scottish Friendly vows to 'build on legacy' left by Jim Galbraith as mutual reports robust 2020 results

Scottish Friendly has vowed to “build on the legacy” left by its chief executive Jim Galbraith, who recently passed away, as the Glasgow-based mutual reported robust annual results.

Total sales rose year-on-year to £42 million from £37.8m, on an industry-standard annual premium equivalent basis – the second highest in the company’s history.

Sales of its investment ISAs reached a record high in 2020 despite it being “one of the most turbulent years” in the firm’s 160-year history.

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However, the mutual said the latest results had been overshadowed by the recent passing of Galbraith, who joined the company in 1988. Appointed as a director in 2006 he was made deputy chief executive in 2009 and took over leadership of the business from Fiona McBain in 2017.

Finance director Martin Pringle has been appointed by the board as acting chief executive and takes over the reins as Scottish Friendly’s membership reaches an all-time high. Picture: Peter Devlin
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Finance director Martin Pringle has been appointed by the board as acting chief executive and takes over the reins as Scottish Friendly’s membership reaches an all-time high. It increased from some 712,000 in 2019 to 745,000 last year and means that the business now administers more than one million policies.

Pringle said: “Since Jim’s passing, it has been an incredibly difficult time for everyone involved with Scottish Friendly.

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“We will now focus on building on the legacy he left behind and carrying forward the financial mutual ethos he proudly promoted.

“The business has shown great resilience over the past year to manage the shock of a global pandemic and still continue to grow and innovate.

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“We responded quickly to events of early 2020 to help set staff up at home and ensure we were able to continue to serve the needs of our members.

“In spite of all the personal and business challenges we’ve faced, we have achieved the second best set of results in our 160-year history. We can look forward with hope and optimism for another successful year in 2021.

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“Although Jim is no longer with us, we are all determined and highly motivated to repay the faith he placed in all of us, by delivering the best possible value and service to all our current and future members,” he added.

The 2020 results showed that own-brand sales rose 13 per cent to £15.7m. A fifth of those branded sales were generated via mobile channels thanks to increased targeting.

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Scottish Friendly’s assets under management remained stable during the year at £5.3 billion, reflecting market movements and some “anticipated run-off” relating to the acquired Canada Life business.

Commercial director Neil Lovatt also paid tribute to Galbraith, saying: “On a personal and professional level we continue to mourn the loss of Jim. He was an inspiring and passionate leader of Scottish Friendly.

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“One of his many strengths was his kind and thoughtful nature. He cared deeply about the people he worked with and played a fundamental role in making sure that colleagues were supported through the pandemic.

“The health and wellbeing of staff, members and the wider community has been our priority this year and will continue to be so.

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“Jim’s vision and stewardship has been borne out completely in this latest set of stellar annual results.”

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Tributes paid after passing of Scottish Friendly chief executive Jim Galbraith
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