New Standard Life Aberdeen CEO Bird takes up role

Stephen Bird

Edinburgh-based investment giant Standard Life Aberdeen plc said on Tuesday that regulatory approvals have been received for the appointment of its new chief executive Stephen Bird.

“Following the announcement of 30 June 2020, the board of Standard Life Aberdeen plc confirms that the relevant regulatory approvals have been received for the appointment of Stephen Bird,” said Standard Life Aberdeen.

“Accordingly, Keith Skeoch has resigned from the board as chief executive and executive director and Stephen Bird has taken up the role of chief executive, both effective from 1 September 2020.”

Bird, a former Citigroup executive, is originally from Motherwell and lives in Edinburgh, where he will be based as CEO. 

Skeoch was one of the architects of the £11 billion merger of Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management in 2017, along with Aberdeen’s CEO Martin Gilbert, who recently left the combined firm. 

Bird’s base salary will be £875,000 a year, but he will also have bonus and incentive arrangements in place that could take his total package up to several million pounds, subject to performance and conditions.

Bird was on the short list to be the new CEO of HSBC before that bank confirmed Noel Quinn in the chief executive officer role this year.

Most recently, Bird served as CEO of global consumer banking at Citigroup, a role he held since 2015, before “retiring” in November last year. 

Prior to that, Bird was chief executive for all of Citigroup’s Asia Pacific business lines across 17 markets in the region, including India and China. Bird held various leadership roles in a 21 year career with Citigroup.

Standard Life Aberdeen said on August 7 its first-half adjusted profit before tax fell 30% to £195 million while assets under management and administration slipped 6% to £544.6 billion after much-publicized withdrawals by Lloyds Banking Group.

Standard Life Aberdeen chairman Douglas Flint said on Tuesday: “The transition from Keith Skeoch was always going to be a challenge to deliver, given the incredible scale and range of his contributions to the success of the company over many years.

“I am however extremely pleased to say we have found a truly worthy successor.

“I am delighted to welcome Stephen to Standard Life Aberdeen and am looking forward to working with him.

“He is an inspiring leader with a great track record and experience in leading businesses to harness digital technology to improve both productivity and the client and customer experience.

“This, coupled with his ability to create valuable partnerships and guide businesses through periods of major change, means that he is well placed to build on the strong foundations we have at SLA.”

Bird said: “I am delighted to be joining Standard Life Aberdeen as its next chief executive.

“This is a company with a great history, a strong brand and an exciting future.

“The current crisis has highlighted the importance of active asset management as well as building greater resilience into personal financial planning.

“SLA’s leading asset management, platforms and wealth capabilities give great scope to help clients and customers navigate these challenges; this is what attracted me to the company.  

“I am looking forward to working with my new colleagues to create a better future for all our stakeholders.”