'Staff were in tears, it's a very stressful time': Scots investment giant Abrdn under fire over outsourcing Edinburgh jobs to Indian partner

Edinburgh-headquartered investment giant Abrdn has been criticised for cutting jobs in the Scottish capital, amid the escalating cost-of-living crisis – due to some operations being outsourced to an Indian partner.

A source said that earlier this month, around 30 staff that work in the George Street office were called into a meeting where they were told that redundancies were going to be taking place.

“As part of [Abrdn’s] ongoing restructuring ... roles are being moved to partners in India,” the source – who said they are a friend of an employee – stated. “They seem to be cutting a lot of jobs in Scotland to save some cash. No timeframe has been given, but the workers are a mix of temp and permanent.

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"After the meeting, staff were in tears and everyone was told to ... take the rest of the day off to digest the news. Staff are obviously very worried as they move towards not just Christmas, but a major cost-of-living crisis.

"Quite a few specifically moved to Edinburgh to take up these jobs and are now being told they're no longer needed. It's a very stressful time. I know for a fact that the staff were very unhappy about how it's all happened and how they have been informed. It seemed like [the company] just didn't care."

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Abrdn is said to have over the past two years been developing its finance division, including restructuring to consolidate teams, and wants to see more commercial analysis and insight produced.

An Abrdn spokesman said some of its finance services were being outsourced on the back of the firm planning to seal a strategic partnership with Mumbai-based global business process management company WNS.

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Abrdn says a number of its finance services will be outsourced to Mumbai-based WNS. Picture: contributed.

The spokesman also said: “Finance roles are changing as technology advances, and the way in which we deliver services to the business, and ultimately our clients, is also changing. We set out a new strategy in 2019 to transform Abrdn’s finance function, with the ambition of simplifying our model, focusing on building new capabilities to optimise and better use technology, automating remaining manual processes, and developing new talent.”

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The spokesman said “to enable us to improve performance, transform efficiency, and better support the business, we have reviewed the long-term finance operating model, and will be entering into a strategic partnership with WNS”, which Abrdn says has “deep industry knowledge, combined with technology and analytics expertise, [which] will help us co-create innovative, digital-led transformational solutions for our clients globally”.

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“The partnership will result in a number of Abrdn’s finance services being outsourced to WNS and a smaller retained Abrdn finance function focused on analysis and insight.”

Last month, analysts deemed Abrdn in need of radical action, such as a break-up of the group, after it swung to an interim loss.

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In July, employees at Standard Life – now separate to Abrdn, and owned by insurer Phoenix Group – expressed dismay after it said it was slashing 50 full-time equivalent roles.

Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management – two historic names in Scottish finance, with the former founded in Edinburgh in 1825 – merged in 2016, to create Standard Life Aberdeen. Last year, the latter rebranded as Abrdn and Phoenix bought the Standard Life brand, after in 2018 acquiring Standard Life Assurance and Standard Life Europe.