Keith Skeoch steps down as Standard Life Aberdeen chief

James Baxter-Derrington
Keith Skeoch steps down as Standard Life Aberdeen chief

Keith Skeoch is to step down from the board at Standard Life Aberdeen and retire as chief executive, to be replaced by global consumer banking CEO at Citigroup, Stephen Bird, it was announced this morning.

Following 14 years as a director on the board and five years as its group chief executive, Skeoch (pictured) will serve the remainder of his contract as non-executive chairman of Aberdeen Standard Investments Research Institute, along with his seat as chair of the Investment Association.

Bird joins the board of directors and will assume the role of chief executive-designate as of tomorrow (1 July) and, following a handover period and subject to regulatory approval, will become the group's chief executive.

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

He brings with him 21 years of experience from Citigroup, where he held a variety of roles across banking, operations and technology across the firm's Asian and Latin American businesses, including as chief executive for Citigroup Asia Pacific. Most recently, he served as the firm's CEO of global consumer banking.

Douglas Flint, chairman of Standard Life Aberdeen, described the transition from Skeoch as "a challenge to deliver, given the incredible scale and range of his contributions", but said they had found in Bird a "truly worthy successor" who is an "inspiring leader with a great track record" and an ability to "harness digital technology" and "create valuable partnerships and guide businesses through periods of major change".

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."

Flint added: "I want to recognise Keith's great leadership over the past five years as both our chief executive and for a period as co-chief executive. He guided the company through it transformation arising from the merger with Aberdeen Asset Management and the deal with Phoenix Group amidst significant change in our industry.

"He has been a decisive and empathetic leader during the Covid-19 crisis and has supported the transition to new leadership selflessly, recognising that the post-Covid-19 world brings a wide range of fresh longer-term opportunities and challenges that are best taken forward with leadership succession settled.

"On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Keith and pay tribute to all he has achieved over his years of dedicated service and, in particular, for his leadership in safeguarding and supporting our colleagues during the current crisis."

Skeoch said: "It has been a real privilege to serve on the board for the las 14 years and in particular the last five as chief executive. I know Stephen well and will leave my current role knowing the company is in great hands.

"He will have my full support during transitions, as he will have on an ongoing basis from the great team which has supported me."