The new chief executive of Glasgow-based Scottish Friendly, Stephen McGee, has underlined his commitment to the savings and investment firm’s mutual status.

Mr McGee took charge at the 160-year-old business yesterday after holding senior positions at a range of financial services firms that are owned by shareholders.

Noting that Scottish Friendly achieved strong growth amid challenging conditions last year, Mr McGee made clear that he believes the business can enjoy continued success as a society owned by its customers.

“Mutuality and our customers will be at the heart of everything we do,” said Mr McGee.

“Our mutual status means that we are not driven by the needs of shareholders. Instead we are owned by, and run for, the benefit of our members and profits are reinvested in the interest of those members.”

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Mr McGee said he wants to develop Scottish Friendly into the leading mutual insurance organisation in the UK. He reckons it can become the best example of the “proud and distinct history of mutuality in this country”.

Mr McGee replaced Martin Pringle, who became acting chief executive of Scottish Friendly in April last year following the passing of Jim Galbraith.

Mr McGee previously served as chief financial officer of Aegon’s UK business, chief actuary of Lloyds Banking Group and head of actuarial at Phoenix Group. He became a non-executive director of Scottish Friendly in September.

In April last year Scottish Friendly announced that its annual sales rose by 11 per cent annually in 2020, to £42 million, on an annual premium equivalent basis. Members numbers increased to more than 745,000 during the year, from 712,000. Scottish Friendly is expected to publish its 2021 results this month.

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Scottish Equitable and Scottish Widows demutualised after they were bought by shareholder-owned Aegon and Lloyds respectively in the late 1990s.