Life insurers to see sales fall on tough economy

ECONOMIC gloom and a tough three months for financial markets are expected to take their toll on life insurers’ third-quarter sales figures due in the coming weeks, analysts said yesterday.

Only a few insurers with a foothold in popular niche markets are expected to outperform, but these will see double-digit sales increases, they said.

“Figures will be patchy; flat to down a bit in mature areas, with exceptions such as Standard Life and St James’s Place that have niche products applying to people that have a little bit more money,” said Investec analyst Kevin Ryan.

Analysts expect sales to increase by an average 13 per cent at Standard Life, which has built up a large market share in the self-invested personal pension (SIPP) market and has a strong base of corporate pension schemes. St James’s Place, which offers upper- to mid-market investments, is expected to post almost a 10 per cent rise in new business.

In contrast, new business volumes are forecast to be only about two per cent higher at Legal & General, and may show up to nine per cent falls at Europe-focused Aviva. Prudential is also expected to see “resilient” sales, Numis analyst Richard Gradidge said.