Legal & General, Britain’s biggest insurer, starts looking for new chief executive to take over from Nigel Wilson
- The board of the £16billion group has begun planning the succession to the 64-year-old
- L&G chairman and former Treasury mandarin Sir John Kingman is expected to lead a global search to be matched against internal candidates
- There are no plans for Wilson to step down any time soon, but the board is preparing the ground for when the time comes
Legal & General, Britain’s biggest insurer, has started looking for a new chief executive to take over from Nigel Wilson.
The board of the £16billion group has begun planning the succession to the 64-year-old, who is one of the longest serving and most respected chief executives in the FTSE100.
L&G chairman and former Treasury mandarin Sir John Kingman is expected to lead a global search to be matched against internal candidates among the group’s current management team.
In charge: There are no plans for Nigel Wilson to step down any time soon, but the board is preparing the ground for when the time comes
Wilson, who became group chief executive in 2012, has steered L&G through a turbulent period, which has seen four changes at the top of rival Aviva, a break-up of the Prudential and the sell-off of general insurer Royal Sun Alliance to overseas buyers.
Under his leadership, the assets managed by L&G have soared to more than £1.3trillion and the group has been at the forefront of innovative investment in social housing, infrastructure and the Cambridge University Science Park.
Wilson’s stewardship of Legal & General has been distinguished by his willingness to speak out on corporate governance and national issues.
He has also demonstrated that it is possible for UK savings institutions to diversify their investments in spite of the strict EU Solvency II directive, which, from 2016, limited insurers’ freedoms in a bid to protect consumers from the risk of insolvency.
There are no plans for Wilson to step down any time soon, but the board, led by Kingman, is preparing the ground for when the time comes.
The insider tipped to replace Wilson is Laura Mason, chief executive of L&G’s fast-growing institutional pensions business since 2018. Finance chief Jeff Davies and Michelle Scrimgeour, boss of the investment management division, are also in the running.
Key skills for bosses at an insurer on the scale of L&G is an understanding of complex mathematical models, as well as new financial technologies. Mason has an undergraduate degree and PhD in mechanical engineering from Oxford University. She also spent seven years working for leading actuaries and pension experts Towers Watson.
Runners and riders: From left, Jeff Davies, Laura Mason, and Michelle Scrimgeour
Her division has become Britain’s biggest consolidator of defined benefit pension funds, as more companies and pension fund trustees have sought to cap liabilities by outsourcing the management to experts. Davies, a former partner at Ernst & Young, was recruited in 2017 into the job once held by Wilson, while Scrimgeour came to L&G from Columbia Threadneedle, where she ran the Europe, Middle East and Africa division.
The choice of Mason or Scrimgeour would see another woman in one of UK finance’s most senior roles. Aviva chose Amanda Blanc as its chief executive last year.
Natwest and Spanish-owned TSB both have women chief executives, and former L&G executive Baroness Morrissey recently became chairman at AJ Bell.