Standard Life reported worldwide life and pensions sales were 15% lower at £10.5bn for the first nine months of 2009 compared to the same period last year, as falling markets took their toll.
Even the group’s usually robust individual UK SIPP business was affected by lower market values, which impacted on incoming transfer values. This was reflected in lower net inflows of £1.3bn over the nine months (2008: £1.9bn), and a 25% reduction in new business sales to £2.2bn (2008: £2.9bn).
However, the number of customer accounts increased to 79,100 (31 December 2008: 65,900, 30 June 2009: 74,700) and SIPP assets under administration rose to £11bn (31 December 2008: £8.7bn, 30 June 2009: £9.7bn).
Within the group’s UK life and pensions business, net inflows of £356m were well down on £1,086m for the same period last year. New business sales of £7.3bn (2008: £9.4bn) were also impacted by its decision not to renew bulk investment bond deals. Excluding these deals, net flows strengthened to £937m compared to £498m for the same period in 2008.
A number of endowment policies that were written during the early 1980s reached maturity during the period which led to a net outflow of £1.1bn (2008: net outflow of £1.2bn). Excluding these flows, UK life and pensions net inflows were £1.4bn during the period (2008: £2.3bn) within worldwide life and pensions net inflows of £2.3bn (2008: £3.4bn).
Meanwhile, group pensions assets under administration rose to £17.1bn (31 December 2008: £14.4bn, 30 June 2009: £14.7bn). Volumes in its flexible group SIPP increased by 35% and accounted for 50% of total group pensions sales (2008: 31%).
There was also a strong showing on the platform and wrap side of the business with net inflows into the Sigma and Fundzone platforms rising to £538m (2008: £257m) and sales 48% higher at £830m (2008:£559m). Assets under administration on its Wrap platform increased to £3bn (31 December 2008: £1.7bn, 30 June 2009:£2.3bn).
At the end of the quarter there were 532 IFA firms using the platform (31 December 2008: 409, 30 June 2009: 484) and 26,600 customers (31 December 2008: 16,900, 30 June 2009: 23,000) with an average fund size of £111,000 (31 December 2008: £101,000, 30 June 2009: £101,000)
“We continue to see strong momentum in our Wrap offering, with a strong pipeline of IFA firms in the process of adopting the platform,” the group says.
Third party net inflows at Standard Life Investments (SLI) also soared by 75% to £4.3bn over the period.
Group chief executive Sir Sandy Crombie comments: “Standard Life has continued to deliver a reliable underlying performance in the first nine months of the year, despite the challenging market conditions. I am particularly pleased with the strong growth in assets, especially in the third quarter.
"This should benefit the Group’s profits and cashflow in the years to come and is a testament to our track record, demonstrating the confidence shown in us by our customers.”
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