Alliance Trust starts registering companies in England as uncertainty continues

Dundee-based pensions and savings firm Alliance Trust has started registering companies in England after warning of “uncertainty” over the Scottish independence referendum, reports The Guardian.

The FTSE 250 firm is the latest bluechip name in Scotland’s financial establishment to warn that independence poses a risk for its business. Last week Standard Life said it could quit Scotland if it became an independent country, while Royal Bank of Scotland has said a yes vote would damage its credit rating. Lloyds Banking Group added this week that a yes vote would have a “material impact” on the business.

Alliance Trust was established in 1888 and manages £3.2bn in assets with 250 employees in Dundee, Edinburgh and London.

Katherine Garrett-Cox, chief executive of Alliance Trust, said: “The referendum in September is creating uncertainty for our customers and our business, which we have a responsibility to address. Regardless of the outcome it is critical that we are able to provide continuity of service and protection for their investments and savings. To give them full confidence, we have started work to establish additional companies registered in England, in order to provide operational flexibility and to complement our existing business in Scotland.”

The company’s announcement came ahead of a speech from the chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, who will warn that Scottish householders will pay more for pensions. If Scotland were independent, households would no longer see their plans guaranteed under the UK Pension Protection Fund.

The Scottish National Party has said it will create its own protection fund, but in a speech to the National Association of Pension Funds on Friday, Alexander will argue this will drive up costs because firms would be less able to spread risk.

He will also reiterate the government’s opposition to letting Scotland join a currency union. “I’ve seen some people suggest we are not serious about refusing a currency union,” he will tell his audience. “Let’s call this the John McEnroe defence. Except in this instance it’s not just one person they’re shouting at, but three. And our decision – taken in the best interests of Scotland and the rest of the UK – is final.”

As well as pillars of the Scottish financial establishment, Shell and BP have led the warnings from the North Sea oil and gas sector over the consequences of a go-it-alone vote.