Standard Life chief executive David Nish is to step down after almost seven years leading the insurer.
Keith Skeoch, currently chief executive of Standard Life Investments, will succeed him as chief executive from August 5.
Mr Nish said: “One of the most important responsibilities of a chief executive is recognising both the right time to pass the baton and also to help ensure it is passed on to the right person.
“Now is the right time for both the group and myself. It has been an absolute privilege to lead Standard Life for the last six years and to help build our business into the strong global player it is today.”
Mr Skeoch said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to lead Standard Life.
“Standard Life has been both transformed and simplified in recent years. This has put the fundamentals in place to build a world class business with investment management at its heart, serving savers and investors through our strong and innovative distribution channels. It’s a great honour to have the responsibility for the next phase of our growth and I’m excited by the challenge.”
The announcement came as a surprise to analysts, but was welcomed as positive news.
Barrie Cornes at Panmure Gordon said: “Whilst we believe that David Nish has transformed the Group, successfully placing the SLI arm at the centre of the business, we view the change positively.
“In our view Keith Skeoch’s appointment will be seen as a ‘safe pair of hands’ that will continue the drive to embed Standard Life as a global asset manager.”
Standard Life’s operating profit jumped 19 per cent to £604m in 2014, beating analysts predictions.
However, while the group reported strong performance in last year’s final results, it warned that annuity sales would be hit this year by government pension reforms.