Matthews, who joined the firm back in 2004, was one of the catalysts in restructuring Standard’s UK life and pensions business. It had previously been touted that he would replace Sandy Crombie as chief executive.
His appointment at Friends comes at a time when the group is believed to be looking at reshaping its UK life and pensions offering.
Standard Life, like Friends Provident, has been hit hard by the failed merger with Resolution. Friends’ former chief executive Philip Moore departed the firm after the failed bid in November.
Friends Provident chairman Sir Adrian Montague says: “I am delighted Trevor Matthews has chosen to join Friends Provident at this critical time in the company’s history. Trevor has an outstanding track record of success in the life sector. He has a deep understanding of the industry built on his extensive international experience and more recent work in the UK and with the right skills, enthusiasm and drive to lead this company forward.”
Matthews says: ‘This is an outstanding opportunity for me, and I look forward to it immensely. Friends Provident has an enviable reputation for serving its customers well and providing intermediaries with innovative products and systems.
“Whilst the current environment is challenging, I plan to put past uncertainties behind and,with the team, profitably grow and develop the business. There are many opportunities and Friends Provident is very well placed to capitalise on these.”
Standard Life says group chief executive Sandy Crombie will lead UK financial services until a successor for Matthews has been appointed.
Crombie said: “Trevor Matthews, with his experience of Australia, Japan and
Canada, played an important role during our transition from a mutual business to a listed plc. We have a strong team who, I’m sure, will relish the opportunity to continue the growth in our UK business.”
Hargreaves Landsdown head of research Mark Dampier says: “It’s a real shame for Standard Life. We think Matthews is a really talented individual. Any insurance company that gets him will get a real shake up which is what the industry needs.”