Standard Life sees positive start to year

INSURER Standard Life kicked off the sector’s reporting season with forecast-beating annual sales yesterday following a pick-up in market conditions in the second half of last year.

The UK’s fifth biggest insurer by market value reported total life and pensions sales of £14.7bn on a present value of new business premiums basis – down by a better than expected seven per cent. This was helped by a rebound in sales in the fourth quarter which enjoyed a 29 per cent surge in new business to £4.16bn.

However, its core UK operations from which the FTSE 100 derives much of its premiums, struggled with life and pensions sales down 10 per cent to £10.1bn. In contrast, UK net inflows increased 43 per cent to £1.2bn, up on the £800m recorded in 2008 with a significant pick-up in the fourth quarter.
Its wrap business performed particularly strongly with assets under administration more than doubling to £3.6bn while self invested personal pensions (SIPP) assets under administration rising by more than a third to £11.8bn.

But full year sales of its most popular SIPP product fell 21 per cent in the UK to £2.9bn. Investment bonds also suffered amid poor market conditions. The weaker performances from the UK and Europe offset stronger results in Asia and Canada. Chief executive David Nish, who took over from Sandy Crombie at the start of the year, said: “Our priority now is to execute our growth strategy in order to accelerate the performance of our savings and investments business.”

Standard Life has 9,500 staff across the globe and has 1.5m individual shareholders.
Standard Life Bank currently has over £9.7bn worth of mortgages while Standard Life Investments manages assets of over £123bn.