Charles Guay joins from National Bank of Canada in February next year as chief executive officer.
Based in Montreal he will replaced the outgoing Joseph Iannicelli.
Guay said: "Standard Life has a proud heritage in Canada and I'm delighted to have been asked to lead the company.
"We have a big opportunity for the business thanks to the investment that Standard Life has made in the Canadian market."
David Nish, Standard Life chief executive, said: "I'm very pleased to be welcoming Charles to Standard Life. He is an outstanding candidate for the position and greatly impressed us with his experience, enthusiasm and leadership credentials.
"Canada is a very important market for Standard Life and our business is performing well."