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Retiring chief confident that IFAs will thrive

Scottish Amicable chief executive Roy Nicolson, who is to retire after 40 years with the company, believes IFAs still have a vital role to play within the industry.

He says: “Over the years, people have forecast the demise of the IFA but I am confident they will continue to succeed, particularly in pensions and complicated life products. IFAs are entrepreneurial businesses and very adaptable.”

Nicolson, who will be succeeded by Kim Lerche-Thomsen, 47, in January next year, says he has experienced many changes in his time at ScotAm but says one of the most notable was the takeover of the company by the Prudential following its demutualisation in 1997.

He says “My biggest challenge was to find new ways in which we could continue to write new business and increase our capital. We effected this by demutualising in 1997 and by being bought by Prudential. The financial services industry in the UK today is one for the big players like Prudential, so Scottish Amicable on its own as a life office would not have survived.”

Nicolson joined the company in 1960 at the age of 16 as a trainee actuary in its Glasgow office.

He worked in London and Stirling, rising through the ranks from assistant London secretary in 1971 to managing director in 1990. He became chief executive in 1998.

Recalling the early days, Nicolson says: “The change in the pace of working life in the 1990s compared with the 60s and 70s proved beyond doubt that the ind-ustry was becoming more competitive.

“It is also less compartmentalised than it used to be. Banks did banking, building societies lent money and life offices sold pensions products. By 1990, the industry was much wider in scope and you had to run harder in the marketplace.”

ScotAm chief executive UK operations John Elbourne says: “Roy has made an immeasurable contribution to the successful development of Scottish Amicable and to Prudential&#39s growing presence in the IFA market.”

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