THE new chief financial officer at pensions and insurance giant Standard Life started work in Edinburgh yesterday, joining the firm as it grapples with industry-wide changes to retirement savings.

Luke Savage has joined the firm from the Lloyd's of London insurance market, where he spent a decade as director of finance and operations.

His appointment was announced in May, two months after the government shocked the industry by allowing savers to spend their pension pots more freely rather than forcing them to buy an annuity and guarantee their income.

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The rule change, which comes into force in April 2015, wiped some £5 billion from the stock market value of British insurers when it was announced in Chancellor George Osborne's budget speech.

Standard Life said its annuity sales fell 59 per cent in the wake of the government's announcement. However, it has expressed confidence that its other pension products will more than make up for the lost sales once pensioners reassess their options.

The Edinburgh-based company spent more than a year hunting for a new chief financial officer after Jackie Hunt left to join Prudential.

Mr Savage, a chartered accountant who trained with Price Waterhouse, has also worked for Lloyds Bank, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank.

He spent his first day meeting with staff and investors. As well as the annuities overhaul, Standard Life is also braced for the introduction of Solvency II, a Europe-wide set of insurance rules that has been beset by delays and alterations.

Mr Savage helped prepare Lloyd's of London for the rule change before the European Union pushed back the start date to 2016 at the earliest.

When his appointment was announced, Standard Life chief executive David Nish said Mr Savage was joining "at a time of significant opportunity with unprecedented change across the markets in which we operate".

His starting salary is £600,000 a year.