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Mark Gilbert

When a Fund Manager’s Drama Is in Its Business, Not Its Boardroom

Time for one of Standard Life Aberdeen’s two CEOs to spend more time with his clients.

Martin Gilbert, co-chief executive officer of Standard Life Aberdeen Plc.

Martin Gilbert, co-chief executive officer of Standard Life Aberdeen Plc.

Photographer: Ore Huiying/Bloomberg

Standard Life Aberdeen Plc’s decision to abandon the dual chief executive officer structure that has been in place since the company was created in a merger two years ago makes sense. Its underlying business, however, remains at the mercy of forces largely out of its control — and the outlook for the fund management industry remains distinctly gloomy.

The recent arrival of new Chairman Douglas Flint probably had something to do with triggering the change. The arrangement “was becoming a distraction, both internally and externally,” he said on Wednesday. But Martin Gilbert says it was his suggestion to step aside and become vice chairman, leaving Keith Skeoch as the sole CEO. Given how the pair have managed their responsibilities, his statement rings true.