Standard Life sales fall amid pension reform

INSURANCE giant Standard Life yesterday announced that sales are down seven per cent this year to £14.4bn, as companies decline to switch their pension scheme provider ahead of forthcoming regulatory changes.

New business from corporate pension schemes dropped by a third to £2.6bn, as firms wait to see how the incoming auto-enrolment scheme will pan out.

But chief operating officer Jackie Hunt told City A.M. that sales will bounce back next year. “We have a very clear line-of-sight on the pipeline of these schemes,” she said.

“We know that we have been awarded a lot of pension schemes that will transition in early to mid 2013.”

She also insisted that the firm is well-placed to benefit from January’s ban on paying commission to financial advisors as Standard Life has operated on that basis since 2006.

“We have structured the UK business in anticipation of [the changes] and it will be good to prove that we’re delivering against the opportunity,” Hunt said.

“I’m confident we have the right products, propositions, portfolio and investments.”

Group assets under administration grew from £204.2bn to £211.9bn between June and September this year.

The firm’s operations outside the UK performed well, with the Canadian unit increasing fee business inflows by 56 per cent to £612m so far in 2012.

Shares in Standard Life have already risen by more than a third over the last 12 months and yesterday closed up at 292p.