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Peter Dornan


For someone who confesses to not being able to hold down a job for more

than three years, Scottish Equitable&#39s business integration manager Peter

Dornan seems to be doing remarkably well.

The ScotEq high-flier, who is also employee benefits director with the

responsibility of bringing Guardian Employee Benefits into the ScotEq fold,

is not doing at all bad for someone who left school after O levels.

Born in Belfast in 1955, Dornan has had a meteoric rise from selling

washing machines to the heights of his present positions. In his spare time

he is also managing director at Scottish Equitable International.

His colleagues go to great pains to confirm that his rapid rise is

definitely down to his ability and nothing to do with the fact his football

loyalties lie with Hearts, the same team as Aegon UK group chief executive

David Henderson.

His career started in his native Northern Ireland with a “nice stable and

safe job” as a bank clerk with Northern Bank, much to the delight of his


Based in Dungannon, which he describes as not a pleasant place to be at

the time because bombs were going off every month, he quickly realised a

life in banking was not for him.

He headed back off to Belfast to become an insurance sales consultant with

Target Life and then began his long association with Scottish Equitable,

becoming a broker consultant in 1981.

Dornan says: “I thought Christmas had come early when I looked at the list

of companies I had to cover but I suddenly came crashing to earth when I

realised the previous guy had only written 16 per cent of his target.”

In a fashion which has become a characteristic, he responded to the

challenge and became one of the company&#39s top consultants.

After brief stints as assistant branch and branch manager at ScotEq&#39s

regional off- ices in Belfast, Birmingham and Maidstone, his talent and

enthusiasm led to promotion to the role of personal investment sales

manager in 1994.

True to form, Dornan did not hold the post for long. Within three years,

he had moved on to become director (personal investment businesses) with

responsibility for launching ScotEq&#39s International arm along with SEI

chairman Otto Thoresen.

He says: “I had absolutely no experience offshore, but I understood how it

worked and quickly got my head around it although it was a steep learning


The SEI initiative became a success and is now producing nearly £300m in

new business each year and has over £900m under management.

Dornan has gained the reputation with his colleagues as the nearest thing

that ScotEq has to a troubleshooter although he personally prefers to be

seen as a “lateral thinker who is into change management”.

With Aegon&#39s purchase of Guardian Royal Exchange for £702m last October,

there are no points for guessing to whom they turned to bring the new guys

on board the big ship Aegon UK.

The Guardian pension business is being switched to ScotEq while Dornan

concentrates on forging ahead with his task of making the employee benefits

side of the business the UK&#39s number one.

As part of the strategy, the Guardian name will be dropped, in line with

Aegon&#39s policy for a single UK brand under the ScotEq name.

Dornan says: “We are in the process of rebranding Guardian as Scottish

Equitable Employee Benefits because IFAs&#39 lives are compli- cated enough.

As part of the branding, we intend to build on the existing work done by

the Guardian on the employee benefits front.”

Dornan believes Guardian is the perfect match for ScotEq as it can now

offer IFAs a complete corporate package of group pension schemes as well as

a mix-and-match cafeteria-style range of employee benefits such as group

life and critical-illness cover.

Dornan feels the most important aspect he needs to get right is the

claims&#39 handling process to be able to compete seriously in the IFA sector.

He says: “IFAs need to be confident we will honour a claim or at least

provide a very good reason why we will not. If we can deliver this it will

help us and IFAs sleep easier.”

Despite the obvious challenges of integrating the Guardian business and

making a mark in the employee benefits sector, Dornan confesses that

raising four boys, three of them teenagers, makes business seem easy.

Colleagues says Dornan is a ScotEq man through and through despite one

famous appearance at a staff party dressed as a Spice Girl.

Asked where he sees himself in five years, he says he is just hoping to

still be employed but admits that if he manages to pull off his latest

challenge with the employee benefits business, further opportunities await.


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