The House that Keith built

So, farewell then Keith Skeoch, chief executive of Standard Life Aberdeen.

Skeoch, one of the key architects of the merger of Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management, surprised the City this morning with a shock announcement that he is stepping down.

Skeoch initially served as co-chief executive of Standard Life Aberdeen, under a controversial power-sharing dual CEO model with Martin Gilbert, the founder of Aberdeen Asset Management. Last year, however, Skeoch assumed sole leadership of the company.

An interview published in Camradata’s sister company Funds Europe just last week showed that – while SLA’s AUM has been steadily falling since the merger three years ago – Skeoch has successfully integrated the widely different cultures of the venerable insurer Standard Life with emerging markets specialist Aberdeen Asset Management.

The fall in AUM from £647.6 billion in 2017 to £490 billion by the end of April this year was not necessarily a result of the merger and was roughly in line with industry trends whereby active managers have seen outflows to passively managed funds over the past decade.

Skeoch will be replaced by Stephen Bird, a former executive at US bank Citigroup who will become chief executive designate on July 1.

While the announcement came as a shock to some in the industry, the move has, it turns out, been planned for some time.  It emerged today that executive search firm MWM Consulting were tasked with finding a successor to Skeoch at the start of the year.