|Bid||266.10 x 0|
|Ask||266.10 x 0|
|Day's range||262.80 - 273.90|
|52-week range||170.30 - 338.25|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||1.20|
|PE ratio (TTM)||N/A|
|Earnings date||07 Aug 2020|
|Forward dividend & yield||0.22 (7.84%)|
|Ex-dividend date||20 Aug 2020|
|1y target est||380.07|
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Keith Skeoch is leaving on a low. The outgoing chief executive officer of Standard Life Aberdeen Plc engineered the creation of the U.K.’s biggest standalone fund manager three years ago through a mega-merger. Figures released Friday show his firm has lost the top slot to Schroders Plc.It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this. When Skeoch merged his company with Martin Gilbert’s Aberdeen Asset Management, their aim was to create a fund management behemoth able to compete in what Gilbert dubbed the $1 trillion club. While their instinct was correct that size would be the key to survival, aiming for economies of scale to offset the relentless downward pressure on fees, the reality of combining two different cultures took its toll on the most fundamental aspect of the business – making money for customers.In 2018, just half of the firm’s funds were ahead of their benchmarks on a three-year basis, and that’s before fees were taken into account. While performance got better last year, 40% of investments still lagged their benchmark, and this year’s continued improvement to just 32% underperforming comes too late for clients who’ve been withdrawing money in droves in recent years. Standard Life’s drop in the U.K. rankings is not a surprise. I wrote in March that its loss of a big mandate from Lloyds Banking Group Plc — the lender completed the transfer of 75 billion pounds ($98 billion) of portfolios to Schroders in April — would probably lead to a change in the league table. But it will still sting.Standard Life Chairman Douglas Flint eased Gilbert out of his co-CEO role last year, and announced Skeoch’s departure at the end of June. The new CEO, Stephen Bird, is scheduled to take over at the end of September after 21 years at Citigroup Inc., most recently as head of its global consumer banking unit, after acting as the bank’s top executive in Asia.Bird’s lack of experience in fund management can be viewed as a hindrance, but it may also let him view the business with a fresh perspective. Three years after its creation, Standard Life Aberdeen is sorely in need of a reboot.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Mark Gilbert is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering asset management. He previously was the London bureau chief for Bloomberg News. He is also the author of "Complicit: How Greed and Collusion Made the Credit Crisis Unstoppable."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- As Keith Skeoch prepares to step down as chief executive officer of Standard Life Aberdeen Plc, the report card on his tenure reads: “A for Effort, B for Achievement.”By the time he leaves in the third quarter, it will have been three years since he and former Aberdeen Asset Management CEO Martin Gilbert engineered the merger of their respective firms in August 2017. The deal was designed to create an asset manager that could compete in what Gilbert dubbed “the $1 trillion club.” The reality has turned out to be somewhat different.Size has proven to offer scant defense against the trends buffeting the fund management industry, including money flowing away from active managers and into low-cost, index-tracking products, increased regulatory scrutiny and relentless downward pressure on what firms can charge for managing other people’s money.It’s impossible to test the counterfactual Skeoch has stressed: that Standard Life and Aberdeen would have fared even worse as standalone firms. But for shareholders, the union has been less than blessed.Douglas Flint, who took over as chairman in January 2019, has been a catalyst for change. Two months after his arrival, the company abandoned the dual CEO structure it had operated since the merger, with Skeoch taking sole control. Gilbert said he wanted to avoid having Flint “tap me on the shoulder and say ‘come on, it’s time to go.’” Flint’s previous role as chairman of HSBC Holdings Plc was probably instrumental in the choice of Skeoch’s successor, Stephen Bird, who ruled himself out as a potential candidate for the top job at HSBC earlier this year. Bird’s career experience during 21 years at Citigroup Inc., most recently as head of its global consumer banking unit, after acting as the bank’s top executive in Asia, gives a strong hint as to where Standard Life Aberdeen expects its future growth to come from.Geographically, Asia is at the top of every fund manager’s list of potential customer growth; Bird’s contact book should help open doors in the region. And Standard Life Aberdeen’s wealth management division, which “has not lived up to potential,” according to a Tuesday research note from Hubert Lam at Bank of America Corp., will be in renewed focus.I wrote in December that Flint might be tempted to tap Skeoch on the shoulder if the firm’s performance didn’t improve. Still, his departure is a surprise, and it’s a shame he couldn’t go out on a higher note by delivering a boost to assets under management and a share price worth more than half its value since the merger. Whether his successor’s lack of asset management experience will prove a blessing or a curse remains to be seen.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Mark Gilbert is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering asset management. He previously was the London bureau chief for Bloomberg News. He is also the author of "Complicit: How Greed and Collusion Made the Credit Crisis Unstoppable."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- There’s always been a whiff of hypocrisy surrounding the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland, where the global elite congregates in a ritzy ski village to debate topics such as hunger and global warming, and basically tell the world how to manage itself better. In a world blighted by a pandemic, the event risks looking completely inappropriate.The organization celebrated its 50th anniversary in January, with an attendance list featuring 2,000 guests representing about 100 countries. Among them were at least 119 billionaires, according to calculations by my Bloomberg News colleague Tom Metcalf. Moreover, while the gender imbalance has improved in recent years, more than three-quarters of the attendees were male which is, frankly, still pathetic. Davos Man looks increasingly anachronistic.Those optics have raised misgivings for one of the Alpine gathering’s regular attendees. “When people are struggling and unemployment is soaring, the very idea of a global elite meeting in a Swiss ski resort is divisive at a time when we need unity of purpose,” Standard Life Aberdeen Plc Chief Executive Officer Keith Skeoch told the Daily Mail newspaper last week. So he decided to pull his company out of Davos. “It is very apparent that we are heading into a significant global recession that will create real hardship in our communities,” Skeoch said in a memo to staff last week. The 3 million pounds ($3.7 million) that would have been spent on the conference, including hosting a whisky bar where a traditional Scottish bagpiper would serenade guests, will instead be donated to “community projects” in the regions where Standard Life Aberdeen operates. The nature of such shindigs means Davos is often caught napping, missing the breaking news that should dominate its agenda. It reflects a basic flaw in human nature: We’re programmed to look for the next banana, and pretty terrible at long-term planning.So when asked about the biggest risks facing the world, respondents to the WEF’s 2020 survey rated extreme weather events, the failure of climate-change mitigation, major natural disasters, loss of biodiversity and human-triggered environmental damage highest. It was the first time climate concerns had dominated the list in the survey’s 14 years, reflecting the prevailing news agenda in the months before the conference.Chronic diseases haven’t made the top 10 of most likely outcomes since 2010, after being rated the second most-probable risk in 2007. Pandemics haven’t featured since ranking as the fourth and fifth highest-impact dangers in 2007 and 2008, respectively.While the world was aware that a virus was spreading outside of China in January, the danger it posed seemed minimal, with fewer than 30 deaths reported by the time delegates gathered. The looming epidemic did make a brief Davos appearance. In a Bloomberg Television interview, Thomas Buberl, the CEO of French insurer Axa SA, said “new viruses will pop up” because of mankind’s encroachment into more regions of the world. But Pascal Soriot at drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc said that while the virus “must be taken seriously,” his personal opinion was that global warming was a much bigger threat.Adapting Davos to respect the strictures of social distancing may prove impossible when the whole point is to rub shoulders with influential people from the globe’s four corners. If the show does go on, you could argue that companies would have a fiduciary duty to keep their senior managers away: I suspect there’s not a single insurance company that would pay out on a Key Person Protection policy if a CEO caught the new coronavirus, or even Covid-20, at a Davos breakfast or sipping cocktails at the Piano Bar.The potential hazards of attending the WEF’s conclave have occurred to at least one member of the financial aristocracy. “I had this nightmare that somehow in Davos, all of us who went there got it, and then we all left and spread it,” JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon said in February. “The only good news from that is that it might have just killed the elite.”There’s also the growing awareness of the climate crisis as a real and present danger to act on. The pandemic has already had a beneficial, if potentially short-lived, effect on the environment, with lockdowns around the world curbing pollution by closing factories and slashing travel. Jellyfish have been spotted floating in the canals of Venice (although, sadly, not dolphins), and whales are enjoying swimming in quieter oceans without the low-frequency noise generated by ships.With the average Davos attendee generating about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, the bulk of which is emitted by the plane flights there and back, a trip to the conference looks less and less justifiable. If the organizers want to get ahead of the curve by announcing something, they should declare that the 2021 gathering will be held via Zoom. For once, Davos would truly reflect the zeitgeist.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Mark Gilbert is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering asset management. He previously was the London bureau chief for Bloomberg News. He is also the author of "Complicit: How Greed and Collusion Made the Credit Crisis Unstoppable."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.