abrdn global chief executive steps down

Stephen Bird
abrdn Oceania Pty Ltd - Chief executive
abrdn Oceania Pty Ltd
Date: 30 June 2024
Position: Chief executive
By Karren Vergara

The global chief executive of abrdn will step down at the end of June after four years in the top job.

Stephen Bird and the board of abrdn "have together agreed that it is the right time for Stephen to hand over the reins to the team" effective June 30, the fund manager announced on May 24.

Bird was formally appointed chief executive in September 2020. He previously served as chief executive of global consumer banking at Citigroup from 2015 until November 2019.

Group chief financial officer Jason Windsor was appointed as interim group chief executive subject to regulatory approval while a formal search process gets underway.

"It has been a privilege to lead abrdn through an intensely challenging time in our industry and I am grateful to my colleagues for their support and commitment to serving our clients with distinction," Bird said.

"I leave the company well positioned, having embedded greater diversification of revenues, retained a strong capital position and, most importantly, developed a refreshed leadership team which is ready and eager to take on the challenge of realising abrdn's full potential."

The fund manager's local and global operations have undergone numerous upheavals in recent years under Bird's remit.

Early this year, Bird announced he will cut 10% of its workforce to save $290 million (£150m) by the end of 2025.

Last year, abrdn overhauled its local business, terminating five funds in a bid to consolidate its operations followed by key senior staff such as chief executive and managing director of Australia Brett Jolie leaving.

It currently operates institutional strategies in Australia, having offloaded most of its wholesale business to SG Hiscock.

On Bird's departure, abrdn global chair Douglas Flint commented that adapting the inherited business model to be capable of generating sustainable and profitable growth required strategic vision, intense hard work and the courage to make tough but necessary decisions.

"While this was underway, Stephen took time to assemble the talent needed to execute successfully on his strategic vision and he passes on to them, with confidence, the responsibility to execute the next stage of our transformation. We owe him a great debt of gratitude and wish him well in the next phase of his career," he said.

Listed on the London Stock Exchange, abrdn traded at GBP158.55 as at May 24. The share price has effectively been slashed by more than 50% since trading at GBP335.30 in early 2020.