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Standard Life makes first acquisition in launch of advice business

Standard LifeStandard Life is acquiring an advisory business in the north of England that is part of a new advice division being launched today to respond to major changes in the savings and pensions market.

Agreement has been reached to buy Pearson Jones from Skipton Building Society.  Pearson Jones has operated in the north of England for more than 40 years and has 39 advisers in a team of 102 employees.

The announcement is the first in a number of acquisitions that Standard Life expects to make as it launches its own UK-wide financial advice business in response to growing demand for information from customers.

Commenting on the Pearson Jones acquisition, Barry O’Dwyer, Standard Life managing director, said: “As a leading long-term savings business in the UK, this is an exciting next step for Standard Life.”

Tim Johnson, Pearson Jones managing director, said: “Standard Life’s focus on enhancing client service and improving the career prospects of our staff makes this a very good step in our 40-year history.”

The transaction, will bring with it £1.1 billion of funds under advice, is expected to complete in the second half of the year subject to regulatory approval and other conditions.

Standard Life said its decision to launch is own advisory business was driven by a change in retirement prospects from the certainty of income through final salary schemes to the more flexible but riskier new climate for pensions and savings.

Both factors have limited the need for advice, it said, but that was changing and “demand for advice is likely to significantly exceed supply”.

Standard Life is building its own UK-wide advice service, delivered face-to-face, on the phone and through digital services. It will integrate with Standard Life’s existing workplace and direct services.

Standard Life said it will continue to support advice firms through the continued development of platform technology, products and support services.  “We expect this essential part of the market to continue growing strongly for exactly the same reasons we are building our own advice business.

“The new business will build on the advice and guidance capabilities Standard Life already deploys on the phone and online.  Through the creation of a new academy, the business will also be active in recruiting and training people for a career in financial advice.”

The advice business will grow through the acquisition of progressive financial advice firms, said the company. “This will enable Standard Life to tap into the proven expertise and professionalism in the advice market.”

Steve Murray will lead the business in his role as chief executive. Steve has been instrumental in developing Standard Life’s UK advice and distribution strategy.

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