We closely monitor the debate about Scottish Independence its effects on our clients’ investments. Here are two extracts from Aegon and Standard Life:
Some of our customers have asked us to explain how their investments with Aegon may be affected if Scotland becomes an independent country. Aegon does not take a political position on Scottish independence or seek to influence how individuals vote in the September Referendum. Whatever the outcome of the Referendum, our aim will be to protect the interests and meet the wishes of our UK-wide customer base, employees, shareholders and other key stakeholders.
We are following developments closely and analysing what a vote in favour of independence might mean for Aegon and for our current and future customers across the UK. While we had been hoping to have more clarity on some of the issues, we now accept that we can’t know the full implications of independence ahead of the Referendum. This is because many aspects will need to be negotiated or agreed between a future Scottish Government and other parties at UK or EU level. For that reason, we’re concentrating on making sure we’ve thought through fully all of the possible consequences so we’re ready to act quickly in the event of a vote in favour of independence.
In the event of a Yes vote, we do not expect any changes to take effect immediately. The Scottish Government has suggested ‘independence day’ might be 18 months after the Referendum and it could be later still. It’s only then that most changes will begin to happen. We would use this time to finalise any actions needed and to communicate with our customers.
There are a number of significant ’topics’ still being discussed by the political parties, including:
- Currency – it’s not clear what currency an independent Scotland would use.
- Tax – personal or corporation tax rates in Scotland and the rest of the UK might become different over time.
- EU – an independent Scotland would have to negotiate membership of the EU.
- Laws and regulations – there could be different regimes in Scotland and the rest of the UK.
In the event of a Yes vote, whatever currency an independent Scotland decided to use, we’d take steps to keep policies for our non-Scottish UK customers in Sterling while also looking to support any new currency requirements. We’d also consider the location of our companies and monitor developments closely to ensure that we could continue to serve our customers wherever they are located across the UK.
View the full text on Aegon’s website.
Extract from the Chairman’s statement – Annual Report and Accounts 2013
In September this year, the Scottish people will be voting in a referendum on Scottish independence. Your Company is strictly apolitical and it would be inappropriate for us to give any views on how people should vote. Equally, as one of the largest companies headquartered and based in Scotland, it is appropriate that we have carefully thought through the potential consequences if Scotland were to become an independent nation. We have reviewed all the information that we have available to us at the current time, and we consider that a number of material issues remain uncertain.
David Nish covers these issues in section 1.1 of this report.
We have been based in Scotland for 189 years and we are very proud of our heritage. Scotland has been a good place from which to run our business and to compete around the world. We very much hope that this can continue. But if anything were to threaten this, we will take whatever action we consider necessary – including transferring parts of our operations from Scotland – in order to ensure continuity and to protect the interests of our stakeholders. We will continue to seek further clarity from politicians on both sides of the debate, so that we can reach an informed view on what constitutional change may mean for our customers, our business and our shareholders.
Extract from the Chief Executive’s Statement – Annual Report and Accounts 2013
As a large company and employer based in Scotland, we have been following the constitutional debate ahead of the independence referendum on 18 September 2014.
We have a long-standing policy of strict political neutrality and at no time will we advise people on how they should vote. However, we have a duty and a responsibility to understand the implications of independence for our four million UK customers, our shareholders, our people and other stakeholders in our business and take whatever action is necessary to protect their interests.
For this reason, we have engaged with key politicians and analysed the relevant papers published by both sides of the independence debate. These include the Scottish Government publication Scotland’s Future (the ‘White Paper’) and the UK Government’s Scotland Analysis series.
At the time of publishing this report (February 2014), we believe a number of material issues remain uncertain. These include:
- The currency that an independent Scotland would use
- Whether agreement and ratification of an independent Scotland’s membership to the European Union would be achieved by the target date (currently 24 March 2016)
- The shape and role of the monetary system
- The arrangements for financial services regulation and consumer protection in an independent Scotland
- The approach to individual taxation, especially around savings and pensions, as a consequence of any constitutional change
We will continue to seek clarity on these matters, but uncertainty is likely to remain. In view of this, there are steps we will take based on our analysis of the risks. For example, we have started work to establish additional registered companies to operate outside Scotland, into which we could transfer parts of our operations if it was necessary to do so. This is a precautionary measure to ensure continuity of our businesses’ competitive position and to protect the interests of our stakeholders.
As Chief Executive, my commitment is whatever happens we will continue to serve the needs of our customers and maintain our competitive position.