SPECULATION is mounting that banking veteran Sir Douglas Flint is in pole position to become the next chairman of Standard Life Aberdeen.

The investment giant is recruiting a successor for Sir Gerry Grimstone, who has announced his intention to step down by the end of 2019. Sir Gerry, who revealed his decision in February, became chairman of Standard Life in 2007 and oversaw its £11 billion merger with Aberdeen Asset Management last year.

Press reports have suggested Sir Douglas is the clear favourite to succeed Sir Gerry. According to the Financial Times, Standard Life Aberdeen had expected to name its new chairman next year, but the recruitment process has been completed ahead of schedule. It said Sir Douglas could be installed in the coming weeks.

Standard Life Aberdeen, which has been battling outflows from its flagship investment fund, declined to comment on the speculation when contacted yesterday.

Glasgow-born Sir Douglas retired as chairman of HSBC in September last year, having been in post since December 2010. Sir Douglas, who gained an accountancy degree at the University of Glasgow, had been finance director of the bank for 15 years before becoming chairman. He was previously a partner at KPMG and a non-executive director of BP between 2005 and 2011.

Last month it was confirmed that Sir Douglas had taken up a new boardroom role at IP Group. He became chairman-elect of the intellectual property commercialisation group on September 17 and will become chairman on November 1. Sir Douglas is chairman of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Just Finance Foundation and in December 2017 was appointed by Chancellor Philip Hammond, as special envoy to China’s Belt and Road initiative.

Shares in Standard Life Aberdeen closed down 9.9p, or 3.43 per cent, at 278.9p amid general stock market weakness.