Friends Life restructure sees UK protection director Steve Payne depart

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Friends Life managing director for UK protection Steve Payne (pictured) is set to leave the company following a radical restructure.

Group protection director David Williams will also depart on the back of a business review conducted in the wake of this year’s Budget.

As a result of the review, Friends Life’s UK business will be split into four departments: workplace and intermediated; customer marketing and engagement; proposition and pricing; and customer service. Currently, the provider’s functions are divided based on products.

A spokeswoman says the new departmental structure is designed to be more “customer-aligned”.

She says: “Changes brought about as a result of the Budget mean customers have greater flexibility and more choice than ever. At Friends Life, we are well placed to help our customers understand all the options now available to them.

“Prior to the Budget, we had anticipated a large amount of change in the retirement market and already taken steps to increase our focus in this area. The Budget proposals coming into force next year have simply accelerated the work we were doing in this area.

“To meet the needs of all our existing and potential customers, Friends Life has announced a new structure for its UK business, which supports our growth ambitions.”

Both Payne and Williams will remain in interim positions until the restructure is complete.

The Budget reforms will give savers access to their entire pension pot from age 55 from next April.

On the restructure, Plan Money director Peter Chadborn says: “It is a genuinely sad thing to see a trusted and well-liked figure such as Steve leave a large organisation like Friends Life, especially at a time when it seems to be struggling with its service proposition. It remains to be seen if these changes work for the better as far as Friends Life is concerned. The industry will be wishing Steve well in whatever he chooses to do next.”

London & Country sales director Michael Aldridge says: “The departure of someone like Steve has to be seen as a loss for the business. The product has certainly improved under Steve but in terms of systems and service, Friends Life has some work to do to catch up with others.”