Fiona McBain steps down as Chief Executive of Scottish Friendly

After 11 years Fiona McBain has decided to step down as Chief Executive of Scottish Friendly. 

Having been Finance Director of Scottish Friendly, Fiona took over the role of CEO on 1st January 2006 when the Group had £530M in assets and sales of £5.5M.  Fiona has led the mutual on a journey of remarkable growth and diversification through probably the most turbulent time in the recent history of financial services.

Within only a few months of having launched a three part strategy of organic growth, mergers and acquisitions and business process outsourcing in 2006, the business had launched new products and opened up new distribution opportunities.  This came at a crucial time, coinciding with the beginnings of the credit crunch. As the financial sector then lurched from crisis to crisis, Scottish Friendly was marked by a determination, in Fiona’s own words, to emerge “from this downturn in a stronger position than we entered.”*

True to her word Scottish Friendly grew through the recession. The Group developed several new product lines, from the simplicity of the Child Trust Fund to the sophistication of a full blown wrap platform and SIPP, developed partnerships and outsourcing arrangements with household names such as Royal London, Aviva, Standard Life and Axa Sun Life and grew through mergers such as the largest friendly society takeover in the UK in 2007 of Scottish Legal Life and most recently the takeover of M&GM Mutual in 2015, as a result of which Scottish Friendly more than doubled in size.

Furthermore Scottish Friendly has been very successful in innovation. This has included a unique life ISA platform which enables rapid investment product development and a protection platform allowing the efficient production of life protection contracts in conjunction with reinsurers and distributors.

The most tangible results of this success can be seen in Scottish Friendly’s assets which have grown more than 500% and new business which has grown over 400% to £2.5bn and £29M respectively whilst membership has increased by over 100,000 to nearly 500,000.

McBain will be succeeded by the current Deputy Chief Executive of Scottish Friendly, Jim Galbraith on 1 January 2017.

Commenting on her 11 years at Scottish Friendly McBain said: “I am extremely proud of what we have achieved together at Scottish Friendly. With a great staff of less than 100 people, our strategy has reaped huge rewards in terms of assets and scale for Scottish Friendly policyholders. For me another tangible sign of our progress is that when I started as CEO I was often greeted by industry consultants with ‘Scottish who?’, but these days the opening line is usually ‘What is Scottish Friendly up to now?’

I am delighted that the Board has appointed Jim Galbraith with regulatory approval to take over as CEO; he has been a key player in all aspects of our success and I know he will lead the team to continue to build the business for the benefit of Scottish Friendly’s policyholders. He is taking on one of the best jobs in the sector supported by an experienced and talented staff.”

Jim Galbraith added: “Fiona has been at the helm of Scottish Friendly through one of the most difficult periods in the history of the financial services industry. It is a testament to her patience, strategic vision and her ability to inspire others that over this period the Scottish Friendly Group has continued to strengthen and grow.

Succeeding Fiona is going to be hard but I look forward to working with everyone at Scottish Friendly to continue to develop the Group’s ‘innovate, diversify and grow’ strategy.”

Michael Walker, Chairman of Scottish Friendly concluded: “We shall all miss Fiona enormously. We respect and understand her decision after 11 years in charge to look for new opportunities and challenges but we shall still miss her. We are delighted that Jim Galbraith, with whom Fiona has worked for so long, has agreed to become our new CEO and we are looking forward to continuing to develop the business of Scottish Friendly under his leadership. We give Fiona all our best wishes for the future and thank her for everything that she has done for Scottish Friendly during her time here.”

*CEO address 2009 annual report

Download a PDF version of this press release