There’s no escaping the fact that the UK’s exit from the EU is going to cause major upheaval to all businesses with a European footprint. For Standard Life, the implications of a hard Brexit created a complex challenge:
- 600,000 European savings and pensions customers were serviced from the UK;
- the business has an integrated fund that holds the savings of both European and UK customers and relies on the sale of cross-border savings products; and
- business-critical services are provided from the UK to European entities.
Given the already low levels of public trust in the financial services industry and with Brexit looming, Standard Life knew that they needed to reassure customers that neither the service they received nor their finances would be adversely affected – for both the overseas and UK policyholders.
Whilst the desired outcome was relatively simple, the solution was not. The programme included business, legal, finance, operations and culture transformation, as well as the High Court sanctioned transfer of Standard Life’s European policyholders from the UK to Ireland. This was all delivered in the face of a highly volatile political landscape and uncertain regulatory outcomes.
As a result of this work, Standard Life is now ready for any Brexit outcome. Its policyholders are protected under any scenario, and we have established one of the largest life insurers in Ireland, with assets under management of c€28bn.
The benefits of this work for Standard Life include:
- seamless access to savings and pensions for 600,000 European policyholders and UK with-profits customers;
- ability to continue to sell €1.8bn of existing cross-border business;
- minimising impact to capital and protecting the interests of over 5 million customers, and mitigating significant conduct and reputational risks;
- taking Standard Life International from a small mono-line insurer to one of the largest in Ireland (increase in policyholders from 18,000 to 618,000 and assets under management growth to €28.1bn); and
- mitigating additions to the cost-base through increased sales of €800m in the first year.
“The Brexit programme was all about maintaining trust and confidence in our 600k customers across the UK, Ireland, Germany and Austria. The customer message was simple, but the nature, scale and complexity of the activity that needed to be undertaken was far from simple. Not only were we executing a complicated transfer with reinsurance, but we were effectively setting up a new large financial services business. We could not have achieved what we did without the expert support and guidance provided by PwC through the many challenging aspects of this programme.”
Nigel Dunne, CEO, Standard Life International
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