Legal & General chief executive Nigel Wilson to retire

<span>Photograph: Alessia Pierdomenico/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Alessia Pierdomenico/Reuters

The chief executive of Legal & General, Nigel Wilson, is to retire after more than a decade leading Britain’s largest asset manager and insurance group.

L&G, which manages £1.3tn worth of assets for clients including workplace pension schemes, is now on the hunt for a successor.

The company said it would consider internal and external candidates to replace Wilson, who would stay in the role for the next year while recruitment was under way.

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Investors appeared disappointed by the news, pushing L&G shares down 2.3% in early trading on Monday, the worst performer on the FTSE 100.

“The market reaction suggests Wilson will be missed. The shares have made progress under his tenure as he has quietly got on with the job of creating a more coherent business,” Russ Mould, a director for the online investment platform AJ Bell, said.

The 66-year-old, who was knighted for services to the financial industry last year, has been at the helm of L&G since 2012, after joined the company as chief financial officer in 2009.

Under his leadership, L&G made large investments in regional projects including affordable housing, and pushed for big changes in government regulations, including loosening rules over how much cash insurers should hold to protect against risks on their balance sheets.

While the asset manager has thrived financially during his time as chief executive, a division of its investment arm was temporarily thrown into turmoil last autumn during the UK bond market meltdown after the government’s disastrous mini-budget.

It was one of the first asset managers to pass on collateral calls to workplace pension schemes – requiring large cash sums to cover complex hedging products that nearly caused some funds to collapse.

The asset manager said on Monday that Wilson’s retirement would mark the end of his executive career, suggesting he was likely to take further boardroom or advisory roles after he steps down from L&G.

However, he is likely to be selective about his next move, having reportedly snubbed Liz Truss last year by turning down a job as minister for investment in her short-lived time in office.

Wilson, who grew up on a council estate in Newton Aycliffe and went on to study economics at the University of Essex, is a member of the government’s levelling-up advisory council and the life sciences industrial strategy implementation board. He served on the business councils under a number of prime ministers including Boris Johnson.

Commenting on his retirement, Wilson said: “I firmly believe we have laid strong foundations to support the next phase of growth for the group, with one of the most talented, collaborative and collegiate management teams in any industry to deliver this.”