Wednesday 13 March 2019 10:38 am

Standard Life Aberdeen scraps co-chief executive structure

Standard Life Aberdeen has scrapped its co-chief executive structure, the investment firm announced this morning as it reported a dip in profits and assets under management (AUM).

Keith Skeoch has been appointed sole chief executive and Martin Gilbert has been moved to vice chairman of the company, dissolving the structure that was agreed following the merger of Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life in 2017.

Read more: Royal London to appoint Standard Life Aberdeen board member as chairman

The figures

Adjusted profit before tax was £650m, down from £660 the previous year and earnings per share were 17.8p compared to 17.2p in 2017.

Assets under management and administration shrank from £608.1m to £551.5m, the firm said in its full-year results.

Net outflows continued, rising to £40.9m from £32.9m the previous year.

Standard Life Aberdeen announced a dividend per share of 21.6p.

Why it’s interesting

Assets under management slumped due to lower equity markets in the second half of the year, impacting investor sentiment and net flows across the industry.

The company said it expects market conditions to remain challenging this year due to ongoing macroeconomic and political uncertainties.

What Standard Life Aberdeen said

Gilbert said: “In a tough year of continued change for our industry, we saw further net outflows – equivalent to about seven per cent of our starting assets.

“Yet as we have shown by our increased gross inflows, we continue to develop a business that has the scale and breadth to compete globally – and to continue to get closer to British savers through our growing platforms.”

What analysts said

“The investment company’s full year results are quite shocking with a decline in profit from continuing operations, another huge net outflow of money from its funds and no increase in the final dividend. That’s hardly the result Standard Life and Aberdeen were expecting when they got married in 2017,” Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell said.

“It quashes the idea that there is strength in numbers simply by parking two companies together.

“At the moment the focus still appears to be on cost cutting rather than driving the business forward. That needs to change.

“The decision to stop having two chief executives is definitely a good start as it should bring a tighter focus at the top of the company.

Read more: Standard Life Aberdeen names industry heavyweight as new chairman

“Keith Skeoch can run the business while former co-chief executive Martin Gilbert has been relegated to maintaining strategic relationships and winning new business.

“The latter job description will drive speculation that Mr Gilbert’s days are numbered at the company.”