Standard Life Adopts the Diligent Boards Paperless Solution
Standard Life plc is a leading long-term savings and investments company, offering a range of savings, pension and investment products. Headquartered in Edinburgh and with major operations in Europe, Canada and Asia, Standard Life is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a FTSE 100 company.
The Group Secretariat team supports the Board in all respects, particularly in preparing it for board-related meetings. Paul McKenna is Standard Life’s Deputy Group Company Secretary and “Tech Expert.” As such, he is responsible for all implementations of Diligent Boards across the Standard Life Group.
Standard Life is part of an industry that demands particularly keen oversight of risk, capital and regulatory requirements. Its Board is committed to high standards of corporate governance for managing its business effectively and delivering shareholder value over the longer term. It must also comply with all relevant provisions in the UK Corporate Governance Code.
With multiple offices and operations around the globe, Standard Life has numerous committees and subsidiary boards, many meeting monthly or even more frequently. Prior to adopting the Diligent Boards solution, the various Secretariat teams produced the board materials, which were then printed and delivered to board members around the world.
Standard Life was looking to modernise the way it produced and distributed its board materials, whilst increasing efficiency for administrative staff and improving the end-user experience for Directors. A particular area of focus was security, both in preparation and distribution of the company’s most sensitive information.
Tasked with finding the right solution for the board, Paul began the investigation into new ways to implement and conduct board meetings. “I had strict criteria. The technology had to be right and the switchover seamless. I wanted to ensure that the board materials were easier to assemble than the existing method.” Directors in geographically dispersed locations needed to access their papers, regardless of location and the local time. They also wanted the option to make full annotations in the same way they did with paper.
Standard Life conducted a full review of leading board portal providers. “What I like about the Diligent Boards iPad application is its ease of use,” Paul says. “It maintains the ‘feel’ of paper, while making good use of the enhanced efficiencies that modern technology affords. It is certainly a lighter option than paper versions and a more convenient format. Out of all the vendors we investigated, Diligent Boards provided the best combination of features at a good price. Papers can be altered at the last minute and Directors can view the books as soon as they are published from wherever they are in the world.”
Standard Life initially rolled out Diligent Boards to the plc Board and its Committees. Some Directors were slightly hesitant about going paperless. With this in mind, they were offered a choice of both printed or online board materials. The biggest surprise to Paul was that after just one meeting, there was universal adoption of the online version. Two Directors previously convinced that they would stick with paper have converted and are now advocates.
Standard Life has used Diligent Boards since July 2011, successfully switching from paper to e-portal across 103 boards and committees with a grand total of over 240 users.
The company attained its goal: to modernise the way it produced and distributed board materials, whilst increasing security of sensitive materials and improving efficiency for administrative staff – and ultimately improving the end-user experience for Directors.