Friends Provident International (FPI) increased its new business by 132% in the first quarter of th...
Friends Provident International (FPI) increased its new business by 132% in the first quarter of the year on an annualised premium basis from £18m to £41m.
The figures were boosted significantly by Lombard International Assurance's new business as this is the first time it has been included in FPI's results. If Lombard is included in last year's total then the increase in new business is just over 40%.
In the first three months of 2005, FPI increased by 23% from £18m to £22m but this was dwarfed by Lombard International's growth of 74% from £11m to £19m. The Lombard figures benefited from business from the fourth quarter of 2004 being processed in the first three months of 2005.
Rocco Sepe, managing director of FPI, said German investors rushed to buy regular premium policies before a tax change on 1 January 2005. Until the end of last year, investors could take 100% tax-free gains from regular premium policies as long as they were held for 12 years. Now they only receive 50% tax-free gains and can only take these when aged 60.
Even though David Steinegger, chief executive of Lombard, and Paul Tunnicliffe, director of FPI, both report to Sepe, he said the two businesses are not being merged. "The three of us talk regularly to share ideas but Lombard is being kept separate. They are targeting different parts of the market.
"Lombard mainly distributes via family offices and private banks [as well as some IFAs], whereas FPI focuses on the retail market. Both businesses operate successfully in Sweden in these different parts of the market. Lombard has been building its presence in Asia and Latin America although it will take a while for business to start coming through."
According to Sepe, FPI increased business in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the UK in the first quarter of 2005. "We have seen a slight upturn in business in the UK but we still only have a small share of the market. In Hong Kong, we are benefiting from offshore insurers exiting the market. The fact we have moved to a new office shows our commitment and we have taken on new marketing and administration employees who all speak Chinese."
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