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Standard Life could exit Scotland over independence

Jenna Towler
Written By:
Jenna Towler

Pensions and savings firm Standard Life has put contingency plans in place to relocate its operations should Scotland vote for independence.

In an extract from its latest results, it said it would consider relocating its operations if the Scottish people vote to leave the union.

The group’s chief executive, David Nish, said many issues around independence are yet to be resolved.

These include:

  •  The currency an independent Scotland would use
  •  Whether agreement and ratification of an independent Scotland’s membership to the European Union would be achieved by the target date (currently 24 March 2016)
  • The shape and role of the monetary system
  • The arrangements for financial services regulation and consumer protection in an independent Scotland
  • The approach to individual taxation, especially around savings and pensions, as a consequence of any constitutional change

Nish said: “We will continue to seek clarity on these matters, but uncertainty is likely to remain. In view of this, there are steps we will take based on our analysis of the risks.

“For example, we have started work to establish additional registered companies to operate outside Scotland, into which we could transfer parts of our operations if it was necessary to do so. This is a precautionary measure to ensure continuity of our businesses’ competitive position and to protect the interests of our stakeholders.

“As chief executive, my commitment is whatever happens we will continue to serve the needs of our customers and maintain our competitive position.”

Investment Week reported this week several Scottish fund groups had made contingency plans in the event of a ‘yes’ vote in the September referendum.

Firms based in Scotland include household names Aberdeen Asset Management, Baillie Gifford and Standard Life Investments, as well as a variety of mid-sized and boutique firms.

Baillie Gifford told Investment Week it has set up an internal working party and has spoken to both sides of the campaign, as well as the Scottish and UK governments.

“Our main priorities at the moment in respect of the referendum are to monitor developments; to assess any impacts on our clients or the firm; and to consider any steps that might ultimately need to be taken to ensure the protection of our clients’ interests and allow a ‘business as usual’ outcome,” the group said.