Martin Gilbert to leave Standard Life Aberdeen: full statement and reaction

Martin Gilbert is to step down from Standard Life Aberdeen after almost four decades with the financial giant and one of the two businesses that formed it, Aberdeen Asset Management.
Martin Gilbert, left, with SLA chief executive Keith Skeoch. Picture: ContributedMartin Gilbert, left, with SLA chief executive Keith Skeoch. Picture: Contributed
Martin Gilbert, left, with SLA chief executive Keith Skeoch. Picture: Contributed

Gilbert plans to quit his roles as vice chairman of Standard Life Aberdeen and chairman of Aberdeen Standard Investments next year.

The move follows recent speculation that he was planning to leave the board to become chairman at London-based digital bank Revolut.

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In an announcement to the stock exchange, SLA said that after an “outstanding career” with both the firm and earlier with Aberdeen Asset Management, Gilbert has advised that he will not seek re-election at May’s annual general meeting and as a result will retire from the company on 30 September 2020.

Until then, Gilbert will continue to focus on “strengthening the group’s relationships with clients, winning new business for the group and realising the potential from our global network and capabilities”, SLA noted.

It added: “Progressively, Martin will transition his client and key regulatory relationships to executive colleagues and certain key public policy, industry body relationships to the chairman.

“As part of this transition, those senior executives currently reporting directly to Martin will move their reporting lines under a revised structure.”

Gilbert said: “It has been an incredible journey, almost unimaginable from the earliest days when we were just three people in one office in Aberdeen with £50 million under management to today’s total in excess of £500 billion.

“For more than 30 years, I have been fortunate to have worked with brilliant people all across the company, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my colleagues – past and present – who have supported me on this journey.

“I will leave the company in extremely good hands, and well positioned for further growth and prosperity.

“I am very proud of our achievements over the past three decades, but I still have a great enthusiasm for growing and guiding businesses and I am looking forward to fresh challenges in the next stage of my career. Nevertheless, Standard Life Aberdeen will always be close to my heart, and I wish everyone associated with the company all the very best for the future.”

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Chairman Sir Douglas Flint added: “It is impossible to overstate Martin’s achievement in building Aberdeen Asset Management into a truly global and widely respected investment firm.

“His ability to attract talent to deliver that success and his unrelenting commitment to the firm’s clients leave a legacy of which he should be immensely proud and which serves as a solid foundation for our future success.

“On behalf of the board and fellow shareholders, I would like to thank Martin for his dedicated service and contributions to Standard Life Aberdeen, particularly as it came together after our merger in August 2017.”

Ryan Hughes, head of active portfolios at AJ Bell, noted: "The news that Martin Gilbert is to step down will mark the end of a remarkable journey where he has overseen the growth of a small asset manager into a major global player.

"Gilbert has been one of the most acquisitive CEOs in the past 30 years, always looking for an opportunity to grow this business with a series of both small and larger purchases that built Aberdeen into a truly diversified asset manager.

"Working closely with fund manager Hugh Young, Aberdeen became the default choice for Asian and emerging market equity exposure and gained support from retail investors right through to large institutional players which drove huge growth in the asset manager.

"The merger with Standard Life in 2017 marked the start of Gilbert’s transition away from the firm and with the joint CEO role that he initially took on, it was clear that over time one would step away from the business when the time was right.

"After a long and successful career, Gilbert has certainly left his mark on the UK asset management industry."