A-Z Of Employers: Standard Life

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The Independent Online

What does it do?

The company is a financial services group with its roots in Edinburgh, where it was established in 1825, but with operations and employees across the UK, and in Canada, Ireland, Germany, Austria, India, Hong Kong and China. Its main activities consist of life assurance and pensions, investment management, banking and healthcare insurance. It has been in the news in recent months due to its decision to abandon its so-called mutual status, and float on the stock exchange, enabling individuals and organisations to buy its shares. As part of the process, existing policy holders were entitled to windfall shares, but to date, unclaimed shares still amount to over £200m. That glitch apart, observers of the financial scene declared the flotation a broad success.

Vital Statistics

The 10,000 employees look after seven million customers and eye-watering amounts of wealth. The worldwide fund management business handles over £120bn.

The office

The headquarters are in Edinburgh, where most graduate positions are based. Additional, regional sales offices are dotted around the UK.

Is this you?

Around 30 graduates are taken on every year: up to 15 to train as accountants in the life and pensions area, a dozen spread around the various sections of the investments division, and three to train as actuaries, who crunch numbers with a view to tailoring policy. Don't bother applying if you're not on for a 2:1.

The recruitment process

Online applications are channelled through two company websites ( www.standardlife.com and www.standardlifeinvestments.com). The exact selection procedure varies between departments, but interviews and an assessment centre, with role plays and group exercises, feature everywhere. Training is also tailored to the role, and can last from two to three years. But all recruits will acquire professional qualifications in parallel to on-the-job training alongside senior colleagues. Exact responsibilities vary widely, but those in investment might be buying and selling properties to maximise returns, or becoming a specialist in a market sector such as oil, pharmaceuticals or technology. Sales and marketing trainees rotate between departments, with the ultimate aim of generating ideas for new products and services. Across the board, real responsibility comes early.

Top Dollar?

Graduates earn a "competitive salary". Extra benefits include dental insurance, cheap use of company holiday cottages in Scotland, and £30 mortgage allowance if the loan is with Standard Life.

Beam me up Scotty?

After three years, a typical graduate might easily be managing teams of up to 60 people, or managing their own investment fund.

Who's the boss?

Sandy Crombie was appointed as Standard Life's Group Chief Executive in January 2004.

Little known fact

It must be one of the strangest events to trigger a boardroom reshuffle. In 1919, the manager of Standard Life, Leonard Walter Dickson, was knocked over by a horse and killed on George Street in Edinburgh.