Abrdn boss steps down after overseeing vowel-free rebrand

24 May 2024, 08:44

Abrdn. Picture: PA

Stephen Bird will step aside after agreeing with its board that it is the right time for a refreshed leadership, the company revealed.

The boss of investment group Abrdn is stepping down after nearly four years in the role, having led the group through its controversial rebrand, the company has announced.

Stephen Bird will step aside after agreeing with its board that it is the right time for a refreshed leadership, it revealed.

Abrdn said it will start the search process for Mr Bird’s successor following a “significant strategic repositioning” of the firm.

Mr Bird will be replaced by Jason Windsor, Abrdn’s current finance chief, on an interim basis.

The chief executive’s departure follows a more turbulent period for the fund manager and wealth specialist, which kicked off major cost-cutting efforts this year.

It plans to cut around 500 jobs as part of a sweeping overhaul to save the investment firm up to £150 million in costs.

But it managed to shrink its pre-tax losses from £612 million to £6 million in the latest year.

Abrdn said the leadership shake-up follows it becoming a more modern and digitally-focused business.

Sir Douglas Flint, Abrdn’s chairman, said Mr Bird had the “courage to make tough but necessary decisions” to boost the firm’s profitability.

He added: “He joined us as the pandemic took hold and, despite the restrictions this imposed, spearheaded a fundamental reshaping of the company, leading from the front to create a company that can be competitive in a fast-evolving sector.”

Mr Bird said: “I am immensely proud of the work we have done together to simplify Abrdn and position the company for sustainable growth.”

He added that it had been a “privilege to lead Abrdn through an intensely challenging time in our industry”.

The Edinburgh-based investment company changed its name from Standard Life Aberdeen in 2021, prompting criticism and mockery from City analysts and media commentators.

Mr Bird defended the rebrand at the time and said its clients had “fully embraced” the move.

The group’s investment chief last month said Abrdn was the victim of “corporate bullying” in the media due to the response to it scrapping the vowels from its name.

By Press Association