Standard Life figures show good growth

STANDARD Life said it was cautiously optimistic after it announced strong growth in assets and an increase in net inflows for the first nine months of the year.

The group reported that assets under management are 13 per cent higher at £192.4bn compared to the end of the fourth quarter of 2009. Third party investments under management were 21 per cent higher at £69.1m, and fee business was up 14 per cent at £157.7bn.

Net inflows to the group increased 60 per cent to £7.2bn over the past three quarters. Long-term savings net inflows more than doubled to £3.5bn, with growth of 63 per cent to £1bn during the third quarter.

Third party inflows at Standard Life Investments, the group’s asset management arm, were 48 per cent higher at £6.3bn, with net inflows 35 per cent higher in the third quarter. About half of these inflows came from its Global Absolute Returns Strategies (GARS) product, which had strong take-up from both retail and institutional investors. On the back of this success, the group said that it plans to launch other GARS products, one investing solely in bonds. The group’s numbers of SIPP customers in the UK have now passed 100,000.

“We are happy we see this as a strong set of results, strong performance is being delivered across all areas of the business,” Jackie Hunt, Standard Life’s chief financial officer, told City A.M.
About 80 per cent of business comes from the consolidation of assets, she said, meaning that it is not as heavily impacted by consumer sentiment.

She was positive about the outlook for the economy. She said: “Our house view is that we are unlikely to see a double dip but a relatively slow growth period. Some of the nervousness around the Eurozone has abated. It is not as fragile as in 2009.”

Hunt added: “There has been a move away to more risky assets, although at the low end of the risk spectrum. Mutual funds, equities and corporate bond funds have benefited strongly.“

The shares closed 0.6 per cent down at 230p, although the price is well up on its year low of 170p in July.