Standard Life buys software company to drive technology innovation

Savings and investments company Standard Life has announced its intention to acquire Focus Solutions Group, a UK company that sells software to the financial services industry.

Standard Life’s primary route to market is through independent financial advisers. It offers IFAs a number of platform technology solutions, such as an online portfolio management system called Wrap. The Focus acquisition will enhance the functionality of these platform services, the company said in a statement, helping to create an “end-to-end solution incorporating point of sale, customer relationship management … and investment trading”.

But Standard Life also mentioned that the acquisition will help to boost its direct and retail banking sales.

In an interview with the Daily Mail earlier this year, CEO David Nish said he wanted to increase sales direct to customers. “I want to bring the outside world into Standard Life,” he said. “We don’t serve 70% of the market, those people who don’t use advisers. That’s daft.”

Under former IT chief Keith Young, Standard Life pioneered the use of the Agile development methodology in an enterprise setting, as profiled by Information Age in 2007.

Young left the company in 2009 and was replaced by former RSA chief operating officer Christian Torkington, who became Standard Life’s operations and IT director. The Focus deal suggests a shift away from internal development towards acquisition as the driver for technological innovation.

Standard Life agreed to pay £42 million for Focus, whose sales for the six months ending September 30 were £5.4 million. The savings giant’s share price rose following the announcement.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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