Standard Life could leave Scotland: Nish

The provider’s chief executive said last week that Standard Life had taken the “precautionary measure” of establishing additional registered companies outside of Scotland, “into which it could transfer parts of its operations if it was necessary to do so”.

While maintaining Standard Life’s strict political neutrality, Mr Nish said a number of material issues surrounding Scottish independence remained uncertain, adding: “We have a duty and responsibility to understand the implications of independence.”

Key concerns:

• The currency an independent Scotland would use

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• Whether Scotland would be admitted into the European Union by the Scottish government’s target date of March 2016

• The shape and role of the monetary system

• The regulatory and consumer protection environment in an independent Scotland

• The approach to individual taxation, especially concerning savings and pensions in an independent nation

Standard Life employs more than 5000 staff in Scotland, and is the third largest PLC based in Scotland after RBS and energy provider SSE.

The provider’s chairman Gerry Grimstone added: “Scotland has been a good place from which to run our business, and we very much hope that this can continue.

“But if anything were to threaten this, we would take whatever action is necessary, including transferring parts of our operations from Scotland, to protect the interests of our stakeholders.”

However, he did not comment further on the implications such a move would have on its majority Scottish-based workforce.

This followed the publication of the provider’s full year results for 2013, which saw UK operating profit before tax increase by 13 per cent to £295m.

Assets under administration on all platforms rose by 33 per cent to £19.4bn, while the provider welcomed 340,000 new customers.

Paul Matthews, chief executive of UK and Europe for Standard Life said the provider was capitalising on auto-enrolment, and denied the existence of a “capacity crunch”. He said: “We offer a simple and automated registration system, and have the capacity to expand further.”

Adviser View

Steve Clark, director of Leicestershire-based advisory firm 44 Financial, said: “I think its a prudent move by Standard Life. It would be foolish not to have a plan B. Clients have called me to ask what will happen to their money, and given the continued uncertainty I don’t think Standard Life will be the last firm to do this.”