Scottish Widows

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Public Affairs Activities

Scottish Widows describes its Public Affairs team as 'one of the most dynamic in the industry'[1]. They are based Port Hamilton in Edinburgh and 'are constantly working to promote our profile and our business goals' with the 'key objective' to 'influence and shape legislation which will impact Scottish Widows business'. They 'work closely' with MPs, civil servants and policy influencers which includes charities and thinktanks. They claim that their reports and expertise have positioned them well with politicians and policy influencers across the political spectrum, as they respond to 'consultation' papers and 'engage' at events throughout Britain.


Funding and finances


Scottish Widows set up its Public Affairs team in 2004. In 2009, the team are described as being 'heavily engaged in promoting the Scottish Widows views on Pensions Reform, Protection and Savings & Investments' with its staff being listed as follows[2]:

  • Douglas Johnson - Director of Public Affairs. Johnson has served Scottish Widows since 1972 and is also a Fellow of the Faculty of Actuaries and a past tutor and examiner. He has previously served on the Board as a Director for Royal Scottish Assurance (part of RBS). Johnson's direct line is 0131 655 6202
  • Anthony Thompson - Head of Public Affairs. Prior to joining Scottish Widows in 2007, Thompson served 7 years with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) (his roles included leading the pensions policy team, running the CBI’s parliamentary affairs unit and heading up all European lobbying activity as Director of the CBI Brussels office). He was educated at the London School of Economics where he graduated in 2003. Thompson's direct line is 07515 096 750.
  • Andrew Cochran - Cochran joined Scottish Widows in 2001, he is described as managing 'Scottish Widows relationship with the ABI, through the several committees on which our Board members sit, covering key industry issues. He is also heavily involved in lobbying in Scotland, and on issues relating to protection'. Cochran's direct line is 0131 655 6231.
  • Anne Brown - Brown joined Scottish Widows in 2003. Prior to this she worked for 10 years at the London School of Economics (which included acting as Head of Executive & Professional Education), she then went on to serve at the American International University in Richmond (where she was Director of Special Projects). According to Scottish Widows website, Brown 'works closely with all of the think tanks with whom Scottish Widows collaborates and helps develop and deliver thought leadership events at Port Hamilton, Party Conferences and elsewhere'. Brown's direct line is 0131 655 2432


In 2009, Scottish Widows describe how their public affairs team 'focus on delivering business benefits to our company through our public affairs activity. Over the past 4 years, Scottish Widows public affairs team have engaged with thinktanks and charities across the political spectrum'. Their 'Thinktank Engagement' is listed as including the following organisations[3]:

  • PPI Pensions Policy Institute (PPI) - Scottish Widows is a 'silver' member with the PPI who are described as an 'educational charity which provides non-political, independent comment and analysis on pension policy in the UK'.
  • Age Concern England - Age Concern is described as being 'considered one of the most effective campaigning charities by MPs, policy makers and opinion formers' which strives to 'promotes older people's interests to Government and politicians from across the political parties'. Age Concern are reported to have 'collaborated with the [Scottish Widows] Public Affairs team at all of the major party conferences since 2005'
  • Policy Exchange - In 2006 Scottish Widows is reported to have sponsored an event with Philip Hammond MP, conservative Shadow Work & Pensions Secretary as part of its work with the Policy Exchange. Scottish Widows also works in partnership with academics and other experts at the organisation as well as commissioning some of its major studies.
  • Scotland Futures Forum (SFF) - Scottish Widows states that it is 'a Champion of the forum and has regular meetings to discuss future research and possible collaborations'. Scotland's Futures Forum was created by the Scottish Parliament to help its Members look beyond immediate horizons to some of the challenges and opportunities facing Scotland in the future[4].

Scottish Widows also state that their Public Affairs team works in 'partnership with the many Think Tanks and leading government organisations who add value with their expertise'[5]. They list these as including:

  • The Association of British Insurers (ABI) - ABI represents 'the collective interests of the UK’s insurance industry to provide leadership on issues bearing on the industry's collective strength and image and to shape and influence decisions made by the Government, regulator and other public authorities'. According to its website[6], 'Scottish Widows are one of the key members of this organisation, with representation on the Board, the Finance- Regulation and Taxation Committee, the Life & Investments Committee, the Distribution and Regulation Committee and several others'.
  • The British Bankers Association (BBA) - Scottish Widows is a member of this Association which 'acts on behalf of its members on all domestic and international issues that affect the banking sector'[7].
  • The Investment Management Association (IMA) - The IMA is the trade body for the UK's asset management industry. Scottish Widows Investment Partnership (SWIP) are members of this Trade body[8].
  • Members of Parliament (MP)
  • Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSP)
  • The Scottish Government
  • Think Tanks
  • Lobbyists

specific details of the MP's, MSP's, members of the Scottish Government, Think Tanks and Lobbyists are not disclosed.

Other organisations that Scottish Widows state they are members of include[9]:

  • The Tax Incentivising Savings Association - Scottish Widows is a member of this trade association which represents the interests of its member firms which comprise of stockbrokers, banks, fund managers, life offices, building and friendly societies and third-party administrators.
  • Scottish Financial Enterprise, which supports and represents the interests of Scotland’s financial services industry with aims 'to create an environment which best enables financial services companies in Scotland to thrive and grow'.



In 2009, Scottish Widows is engaged in the development of policy in relation to the proposed change to the framework that governs insurance companies in the European Union (known as Solvency II) and the Governments Pension reform following the Pensions Act 2006.

Scottish Widows website[10] reports that they sit on the Treasury's high level forum on Solvency 2 as well as attending meetings of the FSA Insurance Standing Group in regards to the framework. In respect to the Pension reform, Paul Myners is reported to be chairman of the Personal Accounts Delivery Authority along with Jeannie Drake (who was formerly part of Adair Turner's Pensions Commission) as a director and Tim Jones (who is a former Chief Executive of Retail Banking at NatWest and co-director of the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation) as Chief Executive. Scottish Widows report that they have 'been closely engaged with ministers and civil servants throughout these discussions, with a view to ensuring a positive outcome for all concerned'. Nice sentiment, but we must remember the stated aim of their PR activities is to influence legislation to promote Scottish Widows profile and business goals[11]. the bests interests of the company and the best interests of their customers (in this case pensioners) do not always coincide.

Another example of a potential conflict of interests is also contained in their Position Statements, in regards to the FSA's review of the retail distribution market. Broadly speaking, the FSA wants to see a move towards the market being more focused on the needs of the consumer. Scottish Widows response of 'how best the industry can meet these demands', in their view is that the 'industry needs a vibrant advice community providing consumers with access to appropriate advice based on their needs and service requirements. This must be done on an economically viable basis for all parties where there are clear responsibilities for all recipients'. Quite what they mean by this is unclear. However we must again remember the stated aims of their PR department which 'work closely' with charities and think tanks with the explicit aim of promoting their [Scottish Widows] profile and business goals.

Lobbying firms


Contact details, Resources, Notes


  • Address:
  • Phone:
  • Fax:
  • Website:

External Resources


  1. Scottish Widows Public Affairs - Overview Accessed 12th February 2009
  2. Scottish Widows Public Affairs - Contacts Accessed 12th February 2009
  3. Scottish Widows Public Affairs:Thinktank Engagement Accessed 12th February 2009
  4. Scotland's Futures Forum About Us Accessed 12th February 2009
  5. Scottish Widows Public Affairs - Overview Accessed 12th February 2009
  6. Scottish Widows related Websites Accessed 12th February 2009
  7. Scottish Widows related Websites Accessed 12th February 2009
  8. Scottish Widows related Websites Accessed 12th February 2009
  9. Scottish Widows related Websites Accessed 12th February 2009
  10. Scottish Widows Position Statements Accessed 12th february 2009
  11. Scottish Widows Public Affairs - Overview Accessed 12th February 2009
  12. Cohn and Wolfe clients, Dec15-Feb16, PRCA, accessed 4 May 2016