• Director, David Huntley, will take over the mantle as Scottish Friendly embarks on a new and exciting chapter in its 158 year history

Scottish Friendly’s Chairman, Michael Walker, is stepping down after 11 successful years and will be replaced by Scottish Friendly director David Huntley.

Michael was appointed Chairman in January 2009 in the aftermath of the global financial crisis and has overseen the business’s dramatic growth and innovation in the years since.

The success of the past decade has been built upon the company’s diversify and grow strategy, which was emphasised as the group’s path to emerge from the financial crisis in a stronger position than it entered it and has been Michael’s primary focus during his long tenure.

During this time, Scottish Friendly has significantly increased in size with assets under management (AUM) increasing from £704 million to £5.3 billion, while membership numbers have risen from 489,000 to more than 700,000.

This growth has been in part due to several astute acquisitions, including that of Marine & General Mutual in 2015, the transfer of the bundled group pension business from Mobius Life in 2018 and the acquisition of a £2.4 billion book of life and pensions business from Canada Life UK in 2019.

Meanwhile, Scottish Friendly has also established strong partnership, outsourcing and white labelling arrangements with names such as Royal London, Beagle Street, Standard Life Asset Management and Guardian while continuing to invest in new and innovate products lines such as its My ISA range in 2012 and the My Plans App in 2018.

The core Scottish Friendly products have been designed to make investing more accessible to families across the UK and have established Scottish Friendly as the provider of choice for many first-time investors.

Much of this success was driven, initially by Fiona McBain, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Scottish Friendly from 2006 to 2016 and since then, more recently by the current CEO, Jim Galbraith, both of whom forged close working relationships with Michael.

Both Scottish Friendly CEOs benefited greatly from his counsel and experience gained from four decades of experience running and being part of successful businesses.

Michael was formerly managing partner and Chairman of legal firm Maclay Murray & Spens and recently stood down as Chairman of Walkers Shortbread Limited.

Michael will now hand over the reins to current Scottish Friendly Director and Chair of the Board Risk Committee, David Huntley.

David has spent more than 30 years in financial services and has held several roles at a Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director-level, including as CEO of Swiss Re Australia.

Despite the global uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, David takes over the role at a hugely exciting juncture in Scottish Friendly’s history. Membership numbers are at a record high, organic sales of Scottish Friendly’s savings and investments have reached a new peak, and exciting, new products and digital services are in development.

As announced last year, the Group successfully introduced online applications for the majority of our products. Increasingly customers prefer to apply online for their investments and Scottish Friendly’s back office capability in this respect provides a strong competitive edge. Online application processing ability also allows Scottish Friendly to boost its e-commerce activity, an increasingly popular form of marketing that delivers cost-efficient results.

Commenting on his 11 years at Scottish Friendly Michael Walker said:

I am incredibly proud of Scottish Friendly’s achievements over the past 11 years and how far we’ve come as a group. We’ve enjoyed exponential growth which has allowed us to focus continually on improving the value and service we offer to members. I am very thankful for all the hard work my colleagues across the business have put in over the last decade and feel extremely fortunate and privileged to have been part of such a great team.

I’m very pleased that David has been chosen by the Board to take on the position of Chairman and I wish him all the very best for the future. He has played an important role in helping to set the company’s strategy in recent years and his knowledge of the Society coupled with his excellent track record in financial services make him the ideal candidate to support the excellent Management team in Scottish Friendly

David Huntley, who takes over as Chairman from Michael Walker, said:

It is an honour to take over from Michael who has overseen an incredible and transformative period in Scottish Friendly’s long history. He has supported the management team and Board as we have established the group as a leading mutual and Scottish financial services organisation serving members up and down the UK.

As we turn to the new challenges we will face in the next decade I look forward to taking on this new responsibility and working closely with the rest of the Board and management team, and all of our fantastic colleagues, to build on the success of the last decade.