THIS is the new boss of almost 2,000 Southampton staff of financial services giant Skandia, after long-serving chief executive Nick Poyntz-Wright surprised industry watchers by announcing that he is to step down.

Peter Mann, pictured, currently chief development officer, will step up to the chief executive position of Skandia UK immediately, subject to approval by the Financial Services Authority.

Skandia said that Mr Poyntz-Wright, who is ranked as the ninth highest paid Hampshire director, with earnings of £700,000, will stay on until July to ensure a smooth handover.

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His unexpected decision to quit comes just weeks after he axed staff twice in four months, announcing in February that 150 jobs were to go from the landmark Skandia House offices because more of the company’s business was transferring online. Late last year he also shed 100 staff as he closed Skandia’s network of regional offices.

Despite the recent cuts, in his 21 years at Skandia, including the last six as chief executive, Mr Poyntz-Wright has overseen impressive growth of the business, which has swelled to become one of the most highly rated operators in the UK market, with £28 billion of funds under management.

Skandia said that his departure would have “no impact”

on staff, strategy or the planned job cuts.

Mr Poyntz-Wright, who lives in the New Forest, said: “Skandia is a fantastic business that has consistently delivered innovative financial solutions to its customers.

I have worked with Peter for many years and know I leave the business in the hands of someone with the drive, skills and enthusiasm to continue the success and growth of the business.”

Mr Mann said: “Nick has played a key role in the growth and success of Skandia over the past 21 years and set the tone for our strategy and approach to the market. He steps down from his role as CEO leaving us in a strong position.”