The CEO of financial services giant abrdn plc is to step down.

Stephen Bird led a repositioning of the company over the last four years, expanding its wealth management business and acquiring consumer investment site Interactive Investor for £1.5 billion in 2021.

He also sold off abrdn’s private equity business for £7.5bn and exited a joint venture with bank Virgin Money.

However during his tenure, abrdn has twice dropped out of the FTSE 100 index while its share price has dropped 40%.

“Having completed the critical first stage of its transformation into a modern and digitally-focused specialist asset and wealth management company… the board and group CEO, Stephen Bird, have together agreed that it is the right time for Stephen to hand over the reins to the team he has assembled over the last four years to drive the business forward,” a notice to the London Stock Exchange read.

Jason Windsor, currently group CFO, has been appointed as interim group CEO, while a formal search process – which will include consideration of external candidates – is completed. 

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Bird will work alongside him until 30th June, which marks the four-year anniversary of his appointment, to ensure a smooth handover.

“On behalf of the board, I want to thank Stephen for everything he has achieved at abrdn over the last four years,” said Sir Douglas Flint, chairman.

“He joined us as the pandemic took hold and, despite the restrictions this imposed, spearheaded a fundamental reshaping of the company, leading from the front to create a company that can be competitive in a fast-evolving sector. 

“Adapting the inherited business model to be capable of generating sustainable and profitable growth required strategic vision, intense hard work and the courage to make tough but necessary decisions. 

“While this was underway, Stephen took time to assemble the talent needed to execute successfully on his strategic vision and he passes on to them, with confidence, the responsibility to execute the next stage of our transformation. We owe him a great debt of gratitude and wish him well in the next phase of his career.

“Jason brought significant and relevant leadership experience to abrdn and since his arrival last year has made a strong start. The board looks forward with confidence to working with him in his new role as our interim group CEO.”

Bird added: “I am immensely proud of the work we have done together to simplify abrdn and position the company for sustainable growth. Together with a refreshed leadership team and an incredibly committed group of colleagues at all levels, we have refocused our global Investments business as a specialist asset manager, working to address its cost base and build mutually beneficial linkages with our wealth businesses. 

“abrdn’s position in the UK wealth market has been transformed through the acquisition of Interactive Investor together with investment in our adviser business; these are essential moves as the ongoing democratisation of savings responsibilities reinforces the demand for simple and cost-effective platform solutions to support individuals as they address their long-term financial needs.

“It has been a privilege to lead abrdn through an intensely challenging time in our industry and I am grateful to my colleagues for their support and commitment to serving our clients with distinction. I leave the company well positioned, having embedded greater diversification of revenues, retained a strong capital position and, most importantly, developed a refreshed leadership team which is ready and eager to take on the challenge of realising abrdn’s full potential.”

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