Ex-Abrdn CFO Bruce joins Phoenix as Thakrar departs

Stephanie Bruce

Phoenix Group Holdings plc, owner of Standard Life, announced that Rakesh Thakrar will step down from his position as group chief financial officer (GCFO) at a date to be agreed in 2024.

And Phoenix said former Abrdn CFO Stephanie Bruce will join Phoenix on June 17, 2024, “and will thereafter be appointed as Interim GCFO” subject to regulatory approval.

“She will be reporting to (CEO) Andy Briggs and will attend all board meetings but will not become a statutory director of Phoenix,” said the firm.

Rakesh and Stephanie will oversee an orderly handover ahead of him formally stepping down once her regulatory approval is confirmed.

“Further announcements will be made in due course.”

Bruce was CFO at Abrdn plc until May 11, 2023, and was also a non-executive director of Phoenix Group Holdings plc from June 1, 2022, until May 11, 2023.

Thakrar joined Phoenix in 2001 and held various strategic and finance positions within the group before being promoted to GCFO in 2020. 

Abrdn has a strategic partnership with Phoenix and retains a roughly 10.7% shareholding in the group. Standard Life Aberdeen, now called Abrdn, sold Standard Life Assurance Limited to Phoenix Group Holdings for £3.28 billion in August 2018.

Rakesh Thakrar

“Rakesh was central to the acquisitions which contributed to the group becoming the UK’s largest long-term savings and retirement business,” said Phoenix.

“More recently, he oversaw a number of successful projects including the integration of ReAssure, simplification of the strategic partnership with abrdn and acquisition of Sun Life Financial of Canada UK, as well as the introduction of a new financial framework reflecting the Group’s continuing pivot toward growth.

“The board will initiate a formal process to find a permanent successor, considering both internal and external candidates.”

Phoenix Group CEO Andy Briggs said: “Rakesh has been a great colleague and his counsel, knowledge and experience have been invaluable to Phoenix over the course of his tenure. 

“We thank him for his significant contribution to the group’s journey to become the UK’s largest long-term savings and retirement business, which has included his oversight of a number of transformational projects.

“I am grateful to be working with him and Stephanie during the handover period and wish him every success for the future.”

Thakrar said: “I have enjoyed immensely my time with the company over the last 23 years and I thank all of the colleagues I have been fortunate enough to work with.

“The group is in a strong position today as it continues on its journey from being a closed-book life consolidator to a purpose-led retirement savings and income business.

“I look forward to overseeing the transition to Stephanie and I wish Nick, Andy, the board and all my colleagues at the Phoenix Group every success for the future.”

Phoenix Group added: “Full details of Rakesh Thakrar’s remuneration arrangements in connection with him stepping down from the board will be available on the company’s website in compliance with Section 430(2B) of the Companies Act 2006 and will be disclosed in due course in the Directors’ Remuneration Report within the company’s Annual Report and Accounts for the year ending 31 December 2024, and subsequent years, as appropriate.”