Landmark Edinburgh institution Standard Life slashing 50 jobs, with staff potentially affected 'very scared and demotivated'

Employees at Standard Life have expressed dismay after the landmark name in Scotland’s financial services industry this week announced a raft of redundancies – with fears that more could follow.

By Emma Newlands
Saturday, 2nd July 2022, 4:55 am

One worker at the firm, which is now part of insurer Phoenix Group, said everyone affected “is very scared at the moment, not to mention very demotivated” after the historic brand said it would slash 50 full-time-equivalent roles.

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said when staff received the news, “there was a lot of shock, there were people walking out crying, there was a lot of anger as well, especially [those] who have perhaps worked at the company for 30, 40 years – they feel let down”.

It comes after Phoenix Group in November 2019 strengthened its links with technology and service provider TCS to create a “single, open architecture workplace pensions and savings, digital operating platform” for Standard Life Assurance (SLA) as it continued to develop its wider workplace offering.

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Phoenix said at the time that a number of SLA employees would eventually transfer to Mumbai-based TCS. Additionally, Phoenix, which earlier this year announced record cash-generation of more than £1.7 billion in 2021, snapped up SLA in 2018.

It bought the Standard Life brand from Standard Life Aberdeen in 2021, with Stephen Bird, boss of the latter firm that is now known as Abrdn, at the time saying the Standard Life brand had an “important heritage”, but its focus was more closely aligned with Phoenix’s goals.

However, the source has now said Phoenix has backpedalled on a previous promise not to implement redundancies. Staff have now been told 50 roles in its customer services department will be transferred to Diligenta, which is owned by TCS, in the first quarter of next year.

'We are committed to working with all affected colleagues to ensure they have the support necessary to secure their future,' says Standard Life, which has a major presence on Edinburgh's Lothian Road (file image). Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images.

The source also noted the Standard Life name has been part of the Scottish capital for about 200 years. They said: “It was a very, very prestigious place to work, very renowned for everything, and now it just seems like ever since Phoenix bought the brand, it's just all been moving away very slowly from Edinburgh.”

Fears

The source said there had been a leap in the number of staff calling in sick this week as a result of the redundancy news, and “a lot of people are worried, especially those who've got mortgages to pay”, while more job cuts are feared.

A second anonymous source said the IT department has been told they were now all being moved over to Diligenta, contrary to what they were previously told.

A spokesperson from Standard Life said: “As our business grows it’s vital that we modernise and future-proof our systems and digital infrastructure to make sure that the people delivering the service to customers, day-in day-out, are equipped with the best possible tools and systems to enhance the experience they provide.

“By partnering with one of the world’s leading digital transformation organisations, our colleagues will continue to deliver the same excellent customer service that Standard Life is known for and be part of a business dedicated to service advancement and digital innovation.

"Where roles are not transferring to TCS and Diligenta, we are committed to working with all affected colleagues to ensure they have the support necessary to secure their future, whether inside or outside of the organisation.”