Standard Life Aberdeen unveils top team hire ahead of shift to Abrdn

Standard Life Aberdeen, the investment giant transitioning to the new brand name Abrdn, has bolstered its executive leadership team after poaching the boss of wealth manager Brooks Macdonald.

Caroline Connellan takes up the post of chief executive of personal wealth, reporting directly to group chief executive Stephen Bird. She will be based in London.

Connellan will join Edinburgh-headquartered SLA from Brooks Macdonald Group where she is CEO, having led that business since early 2017.

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She is said to have overseen strong year-on-year growth in funds under management, revenue and profit as well as undertaking key acquisitions and “driving significant transformation to support the success of the business”.

Caroline Connellan takes up the post of chief executive of personal wealth, reporting directly to SLA group chief executive Stephen Bird. She will join Edinburgh-headquartered SLA from Brooks Macdonald Group where she is CEO.

Prior to this, Connellan held key senior roles at HSBC, including head of UK premier and wealth, and has extensive consulting experience across the asset management and wealth sector with McKinsey. Her earlier career included roles with Standard Life, which merged with Aberdeen Asset Management to create SLA, and as a private client fund manager with Newton Investment Management.

SLA’s personal wealth business includes 1825 Financial Planning and the group’s direct-to-customer propositions including Digital Retirement Advice.

The group said it was looking to “significantly” grow the personal wealth arm under its recently announced, though widely mocked, unifying single brand Abrdn.

Bird said: “[Caroline] is an outstanding talent with clear and proven ability in building exceptional wealth management businesses, both organically and via acquisition. Critically, she has a deep customer-centric mindset and extensive experience in creating compelling and innovative offerings.

“Earlier this year, we outlined our strategy for growth encompassing three vectors; asset management, adviser and personal.

“Alongside significant investment in asset management and our adviser support business, our intention is to build a market-leading wealth management proposition to capture value in the growing savings and pre-retirement market.

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“The appointment of Caroline to lead our personal wealth business will be instrumental in delivering our objectives and I’m extremely pleased that she has shown strong confidence in our strategy and brand by joining us.”

Connellan added: “It’s an exciting time to be joining SLA given its ambitions and commitment to the growing wealth market. Stephen’s vision for the business is dynamic and bold, and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to lead and shape the personal wealth business, building on its current quality offering.

“There is an increasing need for individuals to save for the future, particularly for retirement, in a way that works for them – I believe we can play an important role in this.

“I’m hugely looking forward to joining the leadership team at SLA and playing my part in leading the change over the coming years.”

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Last month, SLA announced that it was to change its name to Abrdn, creating a “modern, agile, digitally-enabled brand”.

The group had already said that it planned to create new branding after the funds firm sealed a deal to sell the 196-year-old Standard Life brand to Phoenix Group.

The rebranding roll-out process for the new name and associated visual identity will begin in the summer and progress through 2021.

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