The Business On... Trevor Matthews, Chief executive, Friends Provident

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The Independent Online

So he's been kicked upstairs?

It might look like that. The Friends Provident chief executive is assuming the role of vice-chairman and will be replaced by Andy Briggs, head of general insurance at Lloyds Banking Group. However, he has always made it clear that he wants to return to Australia by the time he is 60, and Mr Matthews is currently 58.



Nothing to do with the Ashes?

Are you inferring that this would facilitate his departure before a battered and bruised Australian Test team come to England for another Ashes drubbing in a couple of years time? Perish the thought. Although Mr Matthews is a big cricket fan, so...



Will we miss him?

Well, he is well liked and respected in life insurance circles. He certainly shook up the culture at Standard Life when he joined, and it needed it. But he also made enemies and that meant his chances of succeeding the former chief executive, Sandy Crombie, gradually diminished over time, hence the jump to Friends. He was seen as doing a good job there before it was taken over by Resolution as part of the latter's grandiose attempt to create a UK super-insurer.



A plain-speaking Aussie?

Sometimes too plain. He survived something of a storm with his unfortunate use of the phrase "nigger in the woodpile" during a presentation. He apologised and described it as "a slip of the tongue".



He seems to have bounced back.

Well yes. He is gregarious and people have described him as energetic, even fun to be around. He is married to Michelle, an actuary he met when he presented her with an award.



And back in Australia?

He will presumably be able to indulge in his hobbies – he cites reading and travel among them. But he will not be short of business opportunities. He spent 26 years working for Legal & General Australia, where he devised devised its slogan "Care – customers, added value, respect and excellence". He is regrettably fond of such business acronyms.

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