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Crombie says mutuality is not the firm&#39s mantra

In a dramatic U-turn, new Standard Life chief executive Sandy Crombie says the company&#39s board has never been “religiously associated” with its mutual status and is ready to reconsider.

In an interview with Money Marketing this week, Crombie says Standard&#39s board feels strongly that the “set of conditions” emerging in the market look different and that the board does not hold to a “mantra” that mutuality is the only condition, saying that its only mantra is to do what is appropriate for the time.

The company has in the past vigorously adhered to its mutual status in the face of attacks from carpetbaggers.

Alan Steel Asset Management consultant Alan Adam says he believes Standard&#39s current board would be committed to mutuality but has had its hand forced by the FSA&#39s new accounting regime. He says that as a result of the Equitable Life debacle, the FSA believes that mutuals can too easily hide their true financial situation.

Crombie says: “I do not think the board has ever been religiously associated with the status, it has been very keen to see its duty performed by recommending what it would consider would be the best status for the conditions.”

Adam says: “I think we will see more of the mut-uals disappearing. Demutualising will solve all Standard&#39s problems and get the FSA off its back. Mutuality is probably a thing of the past in this day and age.”

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