Standard Life is Changing
Sharon: I’m with Barry O’Dwyer, our chief executive here at Standard Life. Barry, last week Standard Life made a big announcement about a new strategic partnership with Phoenix Group, and as part of that we’re proposing to sell Standard Life’s insurance business to Phoenix. So, a lot of people think of Standard Life and they think life insurance. Naturally then, there are some questions. Does this mean all of Standard Life is being sold?
Barry: Well, Standard Life has been around for a very long time. We’ve been operating for about 193 years and our business has changed a lot over that period. And you’re right, in our past we did provide life insurance, but we don’t do so any more. And now our customers would see us more as a life savings company.
Sharon: So then, which parts of the business are we proposing to sell?
Barry: Well part of this deal is around the older business that we don’t sell anymore, so we’ll be selling the business that provides life insurance and annuities. But it also includes individual pensions, workplace pensions, and our businesses in Ireland, Germany, and Austria. But Standard Life is a huge company, and that’s not all that we do. So we’ll be holding on to the market-leading platforms that we’ve got in the UK, and we’ll also be holding on to the financial advice business that we’ve got called 1825. Now, what’s important to remember though is that we will continue as Standard Life. The Standard Life brand is going to continue, it’s just that the underlying company that provides some of the administration services for some of our products will change.
Sharon: Okay, and we’ve heard the term strategic partnership a lot. What do we really mean when we talk about this as a partnership?
Barry: Well there are two levels to this partnership. The first is at a sort of a corporate partnership level where Standard Life Aberdeen will become a major shareholder in Phoenix Group and will also have two seats on the board of the Phoenix Group. But, more important from my perspective, is the partnership that will form at an operational level. So Standard Life will continue to focus on helping customers make the most of their life savings. But between ourselves, and Phoenix, we’ll deliver that in the future. We will also, between us, deliver the support that advisors need to provide great advice to their clients and the support that employers need to provide integrated workplace benefit solutions.
Sharon: Okay, and you mentioned support there. How will the support we provide change and why will it be better?
Barry: Well from a Standard Life perspective, we’re going to focus on what we believe we’re really good at, which is anticipating changes in client and customer needs and designing products and solutions to meet those needs. We also believe that the efficient and effective administration of the products and solutions that we deliver is important, but we believe that over the long term, that administration will be better provided by a specialist in this area operating at scale, and that’s particularly true for older products that are no longer open to new business.
Sharon: It sounds like a lot of change, what does all of this mean for our customers?
Barry: Well hopefully from our customers perspective they won’t see all that much change. The deal is still obviously subject to shareholder approval, but assuming it does still go through, we’ll still operate as Standard Life, we’ll still present ourselves to customers as Standard Life, regardless of where their product is actually technically administered.
So we’ll still answer the phone as Standard Life, and the customer experience that our customers enjoy from Standard Life should continue in the future. I said earlier we’ve been around for nearly 200 years, we’ve changed a lot over that period, this is just the next exciting chapter in our history.
Sharon: Okay, that’s definitely made things clearer for me. Thanks for your time Barry.
Barry: Thanks Sharon.