M&G ‘cross-cutting’ sees UK retail head depart

Speculation Andrew Watson was forced out ahead of demerger


Portfolio Adviser has learned that M&G Investments’ head of UK retail sales, Andrew Watson, has left after more than 25 years, but some are speculating his move is a casualty of “cross-cutting” ahead of the firm’s demerger.

Watson (pictured) first joined M&G in 1994 as a broker sales consultant from Prolific Financial Management. During his time at the firm, he has held a variety of roles, serving as director of strategic partnerships from 2003 to 2010, followed by director of UK advisory and partnership sales until 2015, before coming to his current role as head of UK retail sales.

His duties have been taken on by head of global retail sales management, Neil Brown, who has been appointed interim head of UK wholesale distribution. Brown has been with M&G for 19 years and previously headed up the discretionary UK sales team.

Forced out

Darius McDermott, managing director at Chelsea Financial Services, told Portfolio Adviser he felt Watson was made to leave.

“Andrew’s been there for a long time, I know him very well, I think he has done a fantastic job,” he said. “My understanding here is that there is a little bit of cross-cutting going on at M&G. I don’t think he’s resigned; my understanding is that he’s been made redundant.”

M&G did not respond to Portfolio Adviser’s questions about whether Watson had been made redundant.

A spokesperson for the asset manager said: “We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Andrew for his hard work and dedication to M&G during his 25 years with the business.”

Demerger brings further changes

McDermott said that with all the chops and changes the firm has gone through in recent years redundancies were inevitable.

“There is so much change going on in our industry at the moment but with the merger firstly of the investment parts of Prudential and M&G and then the demerger – when any two entities merge, even if they are wholly owned by the same parent company, there’s always redundancies and change, and in this instance, Andrew’s been a victim of that,” he said.

Ryan Hughes, head of active portfolios at AJ Bell, said it is possible that more staff changes will arise before the demerger completes.

“M&G is moving to a new phase in its history with the separation from Prudential and therefore we may well see other changes in the coming months as others decide it is time to move on to pastures new.”

He added: “Watson has had a very long tenure at M&G, being with the business 25 years so it’s inevitable that there comes a point when people move on to different things. Neil Brown is well known in the industry and will be known to many of M&G’s clients. He’s been in the business a long time and knows it inside out so I’m sure it will very much be a case of business as usual.”

The decoupling of M&G Prudential from its parent company Prudential is expected to complete by the end of 2019.

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