View more on these topics

Standard emerges bruised but wiser

There was no mistaking the venue for the day&#39s vote, even if you did arrive long before the “Welcome to the special general meeting” sign went up.

The pavement outside the Edinburgh International Conference centre was littered with a ragtag collection of about 50 souls – the usual media scrum, onlookers and a dozen or so registering policyholders. One woman capitalised on the crowd with a rattle can for a local dogs&#39 home.

The headlines had foretold Standard Life&#39s mutual future for days but carpetbagger-in-chief Fred Woollard refused to stay home and lick his wounds. He stood outside the hall meeting and greeting the media and the handful of policyholders.

One irate man, unconvinced by Woollard&#39s arguments, demanded angrily: “How can anyone gain if no one loses?” while the ringleader of the Mutual Alliance of Scotland held aloft a mocked-up giant return plane ticket to Nice.

Woollard told MM he will have a break now – unsurprising after a long fought contest in which he failed to win any prizes.

In the registration queue snaking around the EICC, one elderly lady told me she did not need her financial adviser to tell her to vote mutual. Her less forthcoming friend sought financial advice but did the opposite of what she was told. One IFA policyholder told MM: “You&#39d be off your trolley not to vote to stay mutual. I&#39m thinking of my children, not the short term.”

I looked for few more vox pops but Standard does not like this and two representatives close in on me and try to escort me to the press “holding bay”.

The SGM took place before a less than packed auditorium. It seems days of speculation have killed off the crowds, with less than 500 present. The board looked quietly confident but what happened over the next hour and a half must have left the victors bruised.

A great deal was said about communication. Many policyholders who took the microphone blasted Standard for the inordinate amount of money spent on an “uneven and biased campaign” amid claims it spent up to £10m. Many were livid, believing they had been misled about the benefits a “yes” vote would have brought.

One policyholder asked if the board could show him where the potential share dividends were mentioned in the campaign literature. When the board told the floor it did not have the material in front of them, shrieks of “That&#39s because you&#39re incompetent” rang round the hall.

But the board took the criticism on the chin. Towards the close of the final vote, chairman John Trott said: “We have learnt our lesson from this.”


Newcastle Building Society launches online account

Newcastle Building Society has waded into the internet banking fray, by offering an account that pays up to 7.1 per cent interest. But the high rate is only available to account holders who deposit at least £10,000. Those who put in the minimum of £1,000 stand to gain 6.6 per cent interest. The rates are […]

AMP Bank is picking the Pearls

Australian financial services giant AMP is setting up a bank in the UK which will target customers of its subsidiary Pearl Assurance.Pearl customers will be able to choose from a range of deposit, savings loans and mortgage products.The products will initially be sold through Pearl&#39s 1,700- strong salesforce and 100 mortgage consultants, either inthe home […]

A brave new world for bold Old Mutual

With last week&#39s acquisition of United Asset Management, Old Mutual has made a bold statement of its intention to become a major global fund manager.The deal will see the company&#39s funds under management rise to around $275bn and makes it one of the world&#39s top 30 investment houses.Since demutualisation last year, Old Mutual has grown […]

Life on the hedge

Hedge funds were once the preserve of the very wealthy and particularly risk-hungry investor but now mainstream asset management houses are rushing to meet demand from traditional investors for alternative low-risk products.While it is unlikely that hedge funds will be advertised on the London Underground, organisations such as Bank of Bermuda, Henderson, Schroder and HSBC […]


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up


    Leave a comment


    Why register with Money Marketing ?

    Providing trusted insight for professional advisers.  Since 1985 Money Marketing has helped promote and analyse the financial adviser community in the UK and continues to be the trusted industry brand for independent insight and advice.

    News & analysis delivered directly to your inbox
    Register today to receive our range of news alerts including daily and weekly briefings

    Money Marketing Events
    Be the first to hear about our industry leading conferences, awards, roundtables and more.

    Research and insight
    Take part in and see the results of Money Marketing's flagship investigations into industry trends.

    Have your say
    Only registered users can post comments. As the voice of the adviser community, our content generates robust debate. Sign up today and make your voice heard.

    Register now

    Having problems?

    Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3712

    Lines are open Monday to Friday 9:00am -5.00pm