Standard Life prepares to move business units to England

Standard Life is setting up companies in England into which it will transfer parts of its business in the event of a Yes vote in next week’s independence referendum.

 

The provider says it has taken the measure to ensure that customers not based in Scotland can continue to be held within UK tax and regulatory rules and to guarantee that payments can be made in sterling.

Standard has reiterated its concerns over the uncertainty around tax, currency, regulation and membership of the EU in the event that Scotland separates from the UK.

Standard says key issues still requiring clarification include the currency that an independent Scotland would use, whether agreement and ratification of an independent Scotland’s membership to the European Union would be achieved by the assumed target date of 24 March 2016 and the shape and role of the monetary system going forward.

Standard has also called for clarity on the arrangements for financial services regulation and consumer protection in an independent Scotland, and the approach to individual taxation, especially around savings and pensions.

A statement from the provider says: “In view of the uncertainty around Scotland’s constitutional future, we have put in place precautionary measures which would help enable us to provide customers with continuity. This includes planning for new regulated companies in England to which we could transfer parts of our business if there was a need to do so. 

This transfer of our business could potentially include pensions, investments and other long-term savings held by UK customers to ensure all transactions with customers outside of Scotland continue to be in Sterling – money paid in and money paid out – and that customers outside of Scotland continue to be part of the UK tax regime.

It would also ensure all customers outside of Scotland continue to be covered by existing consumer protection and regulatory arrangements – namely the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and Financial Conduct Authority.

Standard Life chief executive David Nish says: “If there were to be a vote for independence we understand it would be at least 18 months before Scotland could become a separate country from the United Kingdom.

“During this period of continued constitutional uncertainty we will provide regular updates to our customers, our advisers, our shareholders, our people and other stakeholders in our business. We will also take whatever action is required to protect our customers’ interests and maintain our competitiveness in the markets in which we operate.

“We will continue to serve our customers in Scotland and will consider what additional measures we may need to take on their behalf as a consequence of constitutional change once further clarity and certainty is received.

“Standard Life will continue to be listed on the London Stock Exchange. There will be no change to the way in which share dividends are paid to shareholders.

“If the referendum result is supportive of Scotland remaining part of the United Kingdom, resulting in the devolution of further powers as seems likely, we will monitor any impact that this may have on our stakeholders and take whatever action we feel is required.

“Standard Life has a long history in Scotland – a heritage of which we are very proud   and we hope that this continues but our responsibility is to protect the interests of our customers, our shareholders, our people and other stakeholders in our business.

“The plans we have put in place will help to ensure continuity and peace of mind for all our stakeholder groups.”