Friends Provident

A former director of Friends Provident on the changes that the company is undergoing

Steven Burkeman and Andrew Gunn wrote telling letters (11 September) about Friends Provident (FP).  I echo their concerns and sadness. I quote from a letter in the Friend (12 May 2000) written by eight former directors of Friends Provident – of which I was one – who were seven Quakers and one attender: ‘If Friends Provident is no longer a mutual company as in the past, then it “demutualises” and becomes a plc and a significant consequence is that managers and directors will be measured by, and respond to, their shareholders to whom, in the main, economic performance is the sole criterion. There is likely to be a totally different view of values: on the one hand, the life insurance policyholders invest over the long term and are relatively risk-averse while, on the other hand, shareholders time horizons are generally (not always) very short and they are prepared to accept higher risks of success and failure and associated rewards.

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