Standard Life cuts 360 sales positions

STANDARD Life said yesterday up to 360 jobs could be cut from its sales force as part of restructuring.

Europe’s biggest mutual life insurer said it was closing 10 of its 21 direct sales branches and cutting the number of employees in direct sales from 630 to 270.

It added that it was also scaling down its telephone operations with the loss of a further 30 jobs.

But the group stressed that it remained committed to keeping a direct sales force to sell products and give advice face-to-face or by telephone.

As part of the restructuring, Standard Life said it was dividing its existing Direct Customer Division into three separate business units of telesales, corporate account management and direct client management, which will offer advice to wealthy individuals.

The three businesses, focusing on significant future sales growth in their area, will be known collectively as Standard Life Direct.

The direct sales branches being closed are in Belfast, Leicester, Chester, Colchester, Sheffield, Dundee, the West End of London, Maidstone, Newcastle upon Tyne and Southampton.

Around 90 jobs are being lost from the Edinburgh office, which employs 245 people, while jobs will also go from centres in Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Glasgow, Leeds, the City of London, Manchester, Reading, Redhill in Surrey and Watford.

Nathan Parnaby, managing director of sales, said: “We are fully committed to creating a strong and successful direct sales business as part of our overall distribution strategy.

“By having three dedicated direct business units, each with a focus on efficient sales growth in their respective markets, our aim is to secure the future of our direct sales operation.”

Earlier this year, the group said it was carrying out a strategic review looking at its options for changing its structure, including floating on the stock market.

The move follows the introduction of a new “realistic” accounting regime by the British Financial Services Authority.

However, last month the insurer sought to reassure policyholders that its financial position had not been weakened by its introduction, with surplus assets of £4 billion under the regime, only slightly below the £4.6bn it has on a statutory basis.

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