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Scottish Independence: Standard Life Reinforces 'Yes Vote' Contingency Plan Getty

Standard Life reinforced its message that it would not hesitate to relocate its Edinburgh headquarters and thousands of jobs if Scots vote for independence in just over a months' time.

The Edinburgh-based insurer revealed in its first half results statement that "no further clarity has been provided on any of these issues [arising from the impact of Scottish independence] since our 2013 annual report and accounts was published on 27 February 2014."

It added that it is still strengthening its contingency plan to move operations out of Scotland as the uncertainty over whether the country would keep the pound, remain in the European Union (EU) or even how cross-border trade and regulation would work, is too much of a risk for its customers.

Scottish people will vote in an independence referendum on 18 September this year and will be asked the straight "yes/no" question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

Standard Life's Concerns

It said in its first half of the year results statement that "material issues which may have implications for our four million UK customers, our shareholders, our people and other stakeholders in our business," include:

  • The currency that an independent Scotland would use
  • Whether agreement and ratification of an independent Scotland's membership to the European Union would be achieved by the target date (currently 24 March 2016)
  • The shape and role of the monetary system
  • The arrangements for financial services regulation and consumer protection in an independent Scotland
  • The approach to individual taxation, especially around savings and pensions, as a consequence of any constitutional change.

The referendum period started on 30 May and, during the same month, Standard Life unveiled a blueprint over how it plans to move operations out of Scotland in a bid to protect itself against the country potentially breaking away from the rest of the UK.

"What the individual wants to know is the fine print and the nature of these big constitutional matters is you don't get to the fine print at this stage in these processes," said Chairman Gerry Grimstone at the time.

"We would not hesitate for example to move parts of our operations to England, where the majority of our customers are located, or move the registration of our funds.

"In financial services, continuity is vital and customers won't tolerate uncertainty so we need to be ready to move quickly if the need arises. We should not and would not attempt to influence how anyone should vote."

Scotland's financial services industry employs 150,000 people. Standard Life has around 5,000 staff based in Scotland as it manages more than £254.1bn (€319.3bn, $428.1bn). Around 90% of clients are based outside Scotland.