The standard life of an employee at one of the world’s leading financial services companies is a long and happy one. Standard Life was founded in Edinburgh in 1825 as the Life Assurance Company of Scotland and has grown to encompass offices in the Republic of Ireland, Europe, Asia and Canada. It provides mortgages, pensions, banking, healthcare and life assurance — geared towards its members, who jointly own the mutual, rather than shareholders.
High levels of customer service are important, according to 91% of employees, and the firm provides them with a solid return for their work, too. Performance and profit-related bonuses can add as much as £136,000 to some staff pay packets, while there is an annual budget of £5 a head for ad hoc gifts such as bottles of champagne.
More than a quarter of employees have been with the firm for more than 10 years. After one year, employees receive a Parker pen; after five, they are given £100, and after 40, £1,000 — the company pays the tax too.
Bob Fairlie, who retired from the firm after almost 44 years in 2002, says: “It’s very much a family company. People like the group chief executive, Iain Lumsden, have grown up with it.”
Fairlie has made lifetime friends (and golf partners) at the firm, which keeps in touch with its pensioners by means of monthly coffee mornings and springtime lunches.
There is a friendly atmosphere for those in the offices: 81% laugh a lot at work. The same proportion praise the workplace benefits, compared with similar companies. These include free drinks, £5 on-site massages at the Edinburgh office (where 72% of staff work), subsidised lunches and interest-free bicycle or season ticket loans. There are holiday cottages for staff (and company pensioners) to rent, together with free admission for Scottish Wildlife, National Trust and Historic Scotland attractions.
Financial benefits are generous and the firm shares its annual revenues of £7.7 billion with a final-salary pension, free personal, legal and financial advice, and a £30 a month company mortgage allowance.
More than seven in 10 staff say profit is not the only thing driving the company; its charitable work includes offering employment to the homeless and seconding staff to charities including Capability Scotland. When work gets too much, there is the option of a career break.
Number of Staff:
Male to Female ratio:
Under 35 to Over 55 Ratio: