Standard Life targets savings and life growth in Asia

Its international take-to-market director, Alan Armitage, says the firm is trying to establish a reusable infrastructure to transport business propositions to various jurisdictions, notably Asia.

Standard Life is exploring further expansion in Asia as it strives to grow its international long-term savings and investments business. 

The firm has already established itself as one of the leading long-term savings and investment businesses in Canada and the UK, so unsurprisingly it is in the international arena that it sees strong growth potential. 

Its international focus covers all overseas business outside of North America, while it also has an asset management arm, Standard Life Investments. 

Having moved to remodel itself as a long-term savings and investments provider under new CEO David Nish, who was promoted from chief financial officer in January this year, the firm has recently focused on combining its sales, marketing and distribution functions with its self-titled take-to-market business. 

Alan Armitage, its newly appointed international take-to-market director, says: “We view one of the opportunities for growth is in the international arena, so this is about getting sales and marketing operations working together where there is a need for commonality, for example, how we approach customer insight and analysis, proposition developments or e-commerce.

“We believe we can put together a reusable infrastructure for propositions that we can take to market in different jurisdictions.” 

Armitage is responsible for domestic businesses in Hong Kong, Germany and Ireland plus an international savings and investment business domiciled in Ireland that provides offshore products and business propositions, mostly in the UK and EU, which are being tailored for other parts of the world. 

He has some 800 staff beneath him (out of a global tally of 10,000), of which about half are directly in the take-to-market function. “I am very aware of the need for us to have localised services and to tailor things for the local market,” he says. “Hence the vast majority of people (over 750) are resident in the local jurisdictions. We are looking to leverage some of the learnings of our international operation as we look to expand further.” 

Standard Life Investments is predominantly institutional focused in terms of assets, while it targets emerging affluent and high-net-worth clients through the Standard Life savings and investment platforms. 

Armitage estimates that Asia represents about 12-15% of the company's new business at present. “We are certainly looking to grow the overall company in terms of the assets that we bring into the organisation,” he adds. 

The firm also almost doubled growth every year from 2006 to 2009 in China, where it boasts a 50:50 joint-venture with the Tianjin Municipal Government. It has been deep in negotiations with the Bank of China about the possibility of it and its partner selling a controlling interest in the JV.

Standard Life also has a JV with HDFC in India, where it is the country’s biggest savings and mortgage bank.

As at June 30 this year Standard Life had £179 billion ($283 billion) in assets. Net inflows increased by £2.5 billion in the year to June 2010, from £800 million the year before. 

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