Legal & General has named Tim Breedon, the low-key head of the life insurer's fund management arm, as chief executive in-waiting to David Prosser, the public face of the group for 14 years.
Mr Breedon, aged 47, will become deputy chief executive on June 1 and take over from the highly regarded Mr Prosser when he retires in March 2006.
"He will be a hard act to follow, but I am really excited by the opportunity. The message is one of continuity of personnel, continuity of strategy," said Mr Breedon.
"I would not expect any departure, unless circumstances change, from the organic, UK-focused strategy."
Besides Mr Breedon, finance director Andrew Palmer and UK head Robin Phipps had been considered contenders for the top spot.
But L&G said Mr Breedon was a unanimous choice.
Bruno Paulstein, an analyst at Bernstein Research, said the move was unlikely to ruffle many feathers.
"I think the general attitude will be that this is a sound appointment. He has done a good job at the investment management business."
Philip Graves, a fund manager at Britannic Asset Management, which owns L&G stock, said the nomination made sense.
"He is running one of the most successful fund arms in Britain and one of the most efficient businesses of its type. He has been at the group a long time, and it's a sensible move because it will not require a board shake-up."
L&G said Mr Breedon, who joined in 1987 after a four-year stint at Standard Chartered, would not earn as much as Mr Prosser, who last year took home £1.4 million in salary and bonuses.