Hen admits board anticipated flak over Abrdn model – Each day Enterprise

Abrdn logo

New name attracted ridicule

Stephen Bird, CEO of Standard Life Aberdeen, admitted that the board was prepared for a backlash when it revealed its new brand name.

The company was ridiculed last week when it revealed the move to Abrdn. Critics have commented on the omission of vowels, the connection with Aberdeen when the company is based in Edinburgh, and the unfortunate pronunciation as “A Burden”.

Mr Bird, who took over the management last year, defended the decision as part of a major change in strategy.

He told the Mail on Sunday that the renaming planned by consulting firm Wolff Olins reflects his attempt to modernize the company and move it away from selling mutual funds and into wealth management for individuals and digital services for financial advisors.

Mr Bird said the board expected some criticism. “We actually prepared our board with a number of branded case studies, and virtually each one was planned on the first day, without exception.

“I remember the headlines ‘Aviva kills Norwich Union’ and the flak that came out of it. We were prepared for that. It’s about more than the brand, it’s what we deliver to our customers. “

Stephen Bird SLA

Stphn Brd: “It’s about more than the brand”

He said the £ 535 billion company was preparing to launch plans this summer that would transform the “declining” fund management sector.

“The old traditional wealth management industry is in decline. There are too many people living on fees just sitting on assets. This is not the future, there has to be changes that benefit customers. Better value for money, better performance and better service, ”he said.

Abrdn is doing a major overhaul of its Wrap and Elevate websites which are used by half of UK financial advisors to manage their clients’ money.

Bird said the work should be completed by the summer, adding, “We have a brand new release in August that is radically changing.

‘Today IFAs [independent financial advisers] We have to call our call centers too often, do paper transactions and customer reviews – the new system digitizes all of that. “

Standard Life Aberdeen was founded in 2017 as part of a £ 11 billion merger between Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management.

The group sold its insurance business to Phoenix and earlier this year Phoenix, which also occupies Standard Life’s former headquarters, acquired the Standard Life name.

Bird said the company was named Aberdeen and it would have been “crazy” to let go of it.

“This idea of ​​the short form Abrdn, which is digitally protected, is the most rational way of doing it.”