Nish will succeed Sir Sandy Crombie, who has joined Royal Bank of Scotland as an independent director, from 1 January.
His appointment comes at the end of 12 months that has seen the insurer make a number of senior marketing appoints and restructure its UK marketing team.
Marketing operations director Simon Esberger joined in October last year, while
Andrew Gillespie was named managing director for marketing across the UK financial services business last December.
The appointments came ahead of a restructure that involved the separation of marketing and product development and the creation and abolition of a number of roles.
Nish joined Standard Life in 2006. He has previously worked held senior roles at Scottish Power and was a partner at Price Waterhouse.
He says he wants to “maintain the momentum” the company has built up.