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Crombie warns of sinking feeling if the float vote fails

Standard Life group chief executive Sandy Crombie has warned policyholders that voting against demutualisation would result in reduced payouts and a fire sale of assets to shore up its ailing capital position.

Under heavy flak from policyholders over poor investment performance at the firm’s AGM on Tuesday, Crombie said staying mutual would force Standard to close to some types of new business.

He cautioned that a forced sell-off of assets would generate poor value as divisions, such as Standard Life Bank, would be sold at book value with brand value being lost.

Policyholders Michael Hogan and David Stonebanks failed in their attempts to get places on the Standard board.

Standard revealed slightly stronger life and pension business for the first quarter of this year with sales reaching 229m on an APE basis, marginally up on last year’s figure of 227m. Standard’s revamped Sipp, which was launched last December, took in 21m in the first quarter.

Crombie said: “If policyholders say no to demutualisation, there would be none of the benefits that you expect with mutuality because we are phasing those out. The option would be to sell off bits of the organisation and close to new business in some areas.”

Policyholder Edwin Newman said: “If I had put in performance like that when I was working in industry, I would not be looking for a bonus but for a P45.”

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(Another) downhill stroll — retirement planning

A report published this morning by the CIPD (CIPD Employee Outlook March 2015) provides yet more interesting data to the changing landscape of retirement planning. It should be remembered that we are in a period of genuine flux here given that the default retirement age was scrapped three years ago, and new pension freedoms come online in April. Both of these alterations will have a huge impact on how employees plan for their retirement.

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