Skeoch to head Standard Life after David Nish bows out

THE head of Standard Life’s asset management arm, Keith Skeoch, is to step up to group chief executive after the Edinburgh-based savings giant announced that David Nish is stepping down.

David Nish. Picture: TSPL
David Nish. Picture: TSPL

Nish, who was at the helm for six years and also a director of the company for nine years, will resign on 5 August, and is credited with transforming the FTSE 100 group during his tenure.

“One of the most important responsibilities of a chief executive is recognising both the right time to pass the baton and also to help ensure it is passed on to the right person,” he said yesterday.

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Nish, aged 55, said for him it would be “a time of mixed emotions as I prepare for a new future”. But he said it was “the right time for both the group and myself, and added: “I know that Standard Life is in good hands.

“Keith is the right person to continue to deliver our strategy and I wish him every success in the future.” Skeoch, who joined the company from James Capel as chief investment officer in 1999 and was appointed chief executive of Standard Life Investments (SLI) in 2004, said he was “delighted” to have the opportunity to lead the group.

He said the company had been “transformed and simplified” in recent years, and thanked “everyone across the business who has worked so hard to make this possible and David for handing the company over in such strong shape”.

The pensions giant holds £258bn under management and employs some 6,500 staff. Over the past year Standard Life has bought Ignis Asset Management for £390m and sold its Canadian arm for £2.2 billion to Toronto-based Manulife Financial.

Of this, £1.75bn was returned to shareholders.

On Nish’s watch the group also divested its healthcare division and bank. The company said talks about succession planning among its senior management had been carried out over several months.

Uner his leadership, Standard Life’s stock market valuation has jumped to £9.3bn from £4.8bn, while group assets under administration have risen 83 per cent to £311.9bn from £170.1bn.

Chairman Sir Gerry Grimstone said that the new chief executive has “been an integral member of Standard Life’s senior team over the last 11 years. Under Keith’s leadership the asset management part of our group has developed into a leading global player”.

The chairman praised Nish’s “great leadership” since 2010, adding that he had “changed the shape of Standard Life, allowing us to successfully grow globally through world class investment management and distribution businesses”.

One insurance analyst said yesterday: “Nish has done a good job in transforming the group into a global investment savings provider.”

Nish earned a total pay package of £5.4m last year.

When he steps down there will be a seven-week handover period, and then he will be on garden leave until end-March 2016, at which point his employment terminates.

During that period, in which he is prohibited from taking new employment, he will receive his base salary of £835,000 a year, and can be considered for an annual bonus.

Skeoch’s base salary in his new job will be £700,000, compared with £500,000 in his present post.

The company said he would continue as head of SLI until a replacement is found.