The Edinburgh-based life insurer made an operating profit of £425m up from £399m the previous year.
Analysts had expected a profit of £355m, according to a consensus forecast calculated by the company.
The 186-year old former mutual has moved away from traditional insurance policies in favour of less capital-intensive savings products since ditching its customer-owned status and listing on the stock market in 2006.
Standard Life has also been at the forefront of an industry drive to cut costs by halting commission payments to middlemen, pre-empting new regulations that come into force in the UK in 2012.
The company is paying a dividend for 2010 of 13 pence, an increase of 6.2 per cent.