SUBMISSION FROM STANDARD LIFE. Introduction

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1 SUBMISSION FROM STANDARD LIFE Introduction 1. This paper is intended to assist the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee in its inquiry into the public sector s support for exporters, international trade and the attraction of inward investment. 2. Due to the nature and structure of our business, Standard Life is not qualified to answer each and every question which the committee is seeking to address; instead we have focussed our response in a number of areas where we have direct and relevant experience. Standard Life background profile 3. Standard Life is one of the UK s leading providers of long-term savings and investment products. Founded in Edinburgh in 1825, the company provides pensions, life assurance, investment management and healthcare insurance to over 6.5 million customers worldwide. Total assets under management across the group currently exceed 138 billion (as at 31 December 2009). 4. In 2006, after 80 years as a mutual company, the Standard Life Assurance Company demutualised and Standard Life plc was listed on the London Stock Exchange. We now have 1.5 million individual shareholders in more than 50 countries. 5. The Company currently has around 10,000 employees across the UK, North America, Europe, India, and China. Scotland remains very much at the heart of Standard Life s operations: the company employs nearly 6,000 staff in Scotland, the majority of who are based in Edinburgh. 6. Standard Life has a long history of international activity: our operations in Canada and Ireland are nearly as old as the business itself. Prior to the Second World War the company had offices throughout the world. 7. More recently, Standard Life s international strategy has focused on developing a secure foothold in established markets such as Western Europe and the rapidly developing financial services markets of China, India and Hong Kong. The importance of international trade 8. In reference to Question 1 in the inquiry s terms of reference, Standard Life is committed to extending its commercial reach beyond the UK and developing a presence in new markets. While the UK represents Standard Life s biggest market and is likely to do so for some time, it is vital for the future development of the business that we seek opportunities for profitable growth in other markets. There are three key reasons for this: a. The UK market for long-term savings and investments offers enormous growth potential. It is generally acknowledged that the UK suffers from a 1

2 significant savings gap which will need to be addressed in the next few years if the current generation ( Generation Y ) is to enjoy a similar level of financial security and independence in later life as the so-called babyboomer generation ( Generation X ). However, the UK is a mature and highly competitive market which is well covered by existing providers. b. The financial services industry is becoming increasingly global. Those providers with the strongest future are those with a customer proposition which can be applied across multiple markets, thereby generating the benefits which flow from skills and technology transfer. c. There is enormous appetite around the world, particularly among consumers in emerging economies, for products and services which are now largely taken for granted in the developed economies. If the UK is to benefit from this demand, it is vital that providers such as Standard Life are at the forefront of new entrants into these markets. 9. While profitable international growth is beneficial for Standard Life in creating value for shareholders, it is also positive for the wider economy. Often referred to as invisible exports, providing financial services to economies outside of the UK generates tangible benefits for Scotland in the form of jobs and earnings. For example, in the financial year to 31 December 2008 Standard Life made a group operating profit* before tax of 933 million, of which 249 million was directly attributable to non-uk activities (Canada, Europe, Asia-Pacific). *As measured on a European Embedded Value basis. Working with the Public Sector 10. Standard Life places real value on the assistance provided by the Scottish Government and its agencies, particularly Scottish Development International (SDI), in helping the company to establish itself in new markets. 11. This is exemplified by the support which Standard Life has received from the Scottish Government and public sector agencies in support of Standard Life s expanding joint venture, Heng An Standard Life (HASL). Specifically: - The First Minister and Finance Secretary officiated at the opening of HASL s Beijing and Shandong branches in 2006 and 2007 respectively. - Standard Life and Standard Life Investments were part of the Finance Secretary s business delegation to promote the Scottish fund management sector in Shanghai in The First Minister visited the HASL branch office in Beijing in April The Scottish Government has also provided valued support for Standard Life in developing its operations in other regions. For example, we have had 2

3 mutually beneficial contact with SDI staff in Hong Kong and India. In the case of the latter, Standard Life has been working with SDI to share the experience and knowledge gathered over a 10-year period to assist other Scottish companies interested in doing business in India. Future direction 13. While we do not wish to detract from the value of assistance provided by the Scottish Government and public sector agencies, we recognise that a key purpose of this inquiry is identify ways in which engagement with the private sector can be developed further. 14. In this context we believe there are three areas which merit the committee s consideration: marketing, people and co-operation. (i) Marketing 15. There is unquestionable value in marketing Scotland as a distinct brand, using its unique combination of history, culture, skills and achievements to maximum competitive advantage. However, we would attach two important qualifications to this statement. 16. Firstly, we believe it is important not to place a disproportionate emphasis on the Scottishness of Scotland at the expense of other attributes. While culture, history and quality of life are important, any decision to invest in Scotland is likely to be based primarily on factors such as good infrastructure, a skilled workforce, world class universities and availability of high quality business premises. Similarly, it is important that countries in which Scottish companies are proposing to invest are acutely aware of the skills and technology transfer which can follow. 17. Second, from the point of view of a potential investor, Scotland may have many attractive features but the ability to access markets outside of Scotland is likely to be of fundamental importance. The latter is particularly true of financial services: while overseas investors may be drawn by the benefits of investing in Scotland as opposed to other competing financial centres they are likely to do so only in the certainty they are gaining access to the wider EU single market in financial services. (ii) People 18. Where possible, consideration should be given to employing staff with a strong business or commercial background. It is also important to have people on the ground who can represent Scotland s interests and develop the necessary contacts. (iii) Co-operation 19. With reference to Question 7 in the inquiry s terms of reference, we believe the Scottish Government and public sector agencies can achieve a considerable amount through their own efforts. However, the potential to 3

4 deliver positive outcomes is greatly improved by inter-agency co-operation. While we readily acknowledge that relevant agencies already work together to significant degree, we would encourage any efforts to build on existing cooperation. We see this as having two principle benefits. 20. Firstly, by working together public agencies are more likely to achieve positive outcomes through leverage of experience, contacts and resources. We do not see this kind of constructive interaction being limited to Scottish agencies. Working with organisations such as UKTI can potentially generate enormous benefits. Having said that, we believe it is equally important that UKTI fulfils its responsibilities in supporting the whole of the UK, including Scotland. We would also recommend working closely with business organisations such as the CBI and Scottish Financial Enterprise which can offer useful experience and commercial insight. 21. The second benefit is that by working together, agencies can better define their respective areas of activity, expertise and responsibility. This would assist businesses in understanding which agency is best placed to provide the kind of support they are seeking. One possibility is to structure all agencies around a central hub which could become a single access point for inward/outward investment support. Adopting this kind of one stop shop approach would remove the need for businesses to identify which agency is best placed to meet their specific needs. Inward investment 22. While Standard Life s international strategy is focused on developing overseas markets for our products and services, we are entirely committed to Edinburgh and Scotland. There are many reasons for this, suffice to say we see a strong business case for being part of an established and recognised financial services centre from which we can compete, both in the UK and abroad. 23. Consequently we view it as absolutely vital that every effort is made to create the conditions in which indigenous businesses can grow and invest in Scotland; support is given to new ventures which have the potential to create jobs and value and encouragement given to international companies to establish a presence in Scotland. 24. As regards the latter, there have already been notable successes in attracting global businesses to Scotland particularly in the area of asset servicing with the relatively recent arrival of companies such as Bank of New York Mellon, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and State Street Corporation all of which now have a strong presence in Edinburgh. 25. As a leading financial services provider we believe that inward investment in Scotland by other financial services companies can only be beneficial for the sector in general and the wider range of support services. We therefore give our unqualified support to all efforts in this direction and endorsement for the work of the Financial Services Advisory Board and its focus on the 4

5 objectives contained with the Strategy for the Financial Services Industry in Scotland. Standard Life plc March

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