Prudential and Standard Life have respectively published new business figures in the past 24 hours which give a steer on how the life and pensions sector may be heading up, but less so for some than others.
Both have reported rising sales on an annual premium equivalent basis, but the gains have not been equally felt.
Pru’s group insurance sales are reported as growing 26% in 2004 on 2003, to a total of £1.85bn on an APE basis.
Standard Life says its total insurance APE sales were up 11% to £1.419bn - although its period actually runs for 13.5 months to 31 December 2004, reflecting the company’s decision to change its financial year-end from 15 November.
In the core UK market, the differentiation is equally visible.
Pru reports UK and Europe APE sales up 21%, excluding a one-off annuity transaction involving Royal London.
Standard Life reports its UK life and pensions business sales actually fell a couple of percentage points to £939m in the 13.5-month period from £957m in the previous 12-month period on an APE basis.
The company’s European life and pensions sales in Germany, Ireland, and Spain totalled £254m, up 96% from £128m in 2003, mostly on the back of a big jump in sales in the German market.
The total for UK and Europe comes to £1.193bn worth of life and pension sales, up about 10% from the £1.085bn figure for the 12 months of the 2003 financial year.
Comparing returns on the two companies’ respective with-profits funds is not possible as Standard Life is not releasing investment return figures on its fund until next Tuesday 1 February, along with its bonus announcement. Third quarter returns covering the period of July through September came to 2.9% before tax.
Figures from Pru suggest its fund delivered a pre-tax return of 13.4% against a FTSE All Share index total return of 12.8%.
Pru shares have dropped 1.75p to 454.75p today.IFAonline
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