Martin Gilbert explains how Aberdeen's recent merger with Standard Life will continue to place clients and customers at the heart of the new entity's future plans
It is two years since changes to the pensions system allowed investors to withdraw money from their pension pot from the age of 55.
Despite what was said at the time, the roads are not gridlocked with Lamborghinis.
Fears that many would withdraw huge sums of cash from their retirement savings to spend on home improvements, luxury holidays and flash cars have proved unfounded.
For one thing, most 55-year-olds, do not have the assets to retire - especially given more and more people are living well into their 80s and 90s.
Indeed, so many are reaching 100 that it now takes a team to produce the Queen's birthday telegrams to centurions.
Retiring later rather than earlier is increasingly common - more people than ever are choosing to work into their 70s.
Another reason for sensible behaviour is the expert advice and financial planning that affluent retirees receive from their IFAs and wealth managers.
Beyond pensions freedoms, a big change is underway though. Governments and employers are transferring the risks of retirement to individuals.
The onus is now far more on the individual to take responsibility for their own retirement provision. This means potentially saving more, working longer, or spending less in retirement. This is the case not just in the UK but across the world.
As investment risk passes to individuals, the challenge falls on asset managers to offer solutions which reduce volatility via increased diversification. Increasing demand for multi-asset and outcome-oriented investment products is related to this new market need.
One of the main drivers behind Aberdeen's acquisition of Scottish Widows Investment Partnership in 2014 was to strengthen our multi-asset and solutions capability.
At the same time, we added scale across our mainstream asset classes - equities, fixed income and property - as well as acquiring new capabilities, such as smart-beta and alternatives.
These broader and deeper investment resources have proved invaluable to managing and offering multi-asset funds to advisers and clients.
By having a wide range of capabilities available internally, a more cost-effective multi-asset portfolio can be made available.
The recently announced merger between Aberdeen and Standard Life is a further step to ensuring both companies are well placed to continue to deliver for clients and cater for their evolving needs.
The merger will create a world-class investment company. It will have a breadth of investment capabilities - including equities, fixed income, property, solutions and alternatives - that few other asset managers can offer.
Importantly, it will build a company which combines the different strengths of the two firms. This will make it easier for clients to access a much broader range of solutions from one company.
The combined group will therefore have more diversified revenues and be financially stronger.
This financial strength will allow the group to retain and attract talent and invest in our fund management teams.
It will also support us having fund managers on-the-ground around the world, which is crucial to undertaking the fundamental research both Aberdeen and Standard Life are firm believers in.
With investment banks reining in the sell-side research they publish, many fund managers will have to re-evaluate their business models and start undertaking their own research.
It is clear the investment and savings world is changing and the pensions freedoms reforms are part of this.
Asset managers that fail to adapt will be left behind as advisers and their clients seek fund managers that can offer a range of products suitable for the pre- and post-retirement markets.
Martin Gilbert is co-founder and chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management
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