Belfast Telegraph

Pension changes hit insurer's results

By Roger Baird

Insurer Standard Life saw its half-year results hit by plunging annuity sales after key pension reforms earlier this year.

Life and pensions groups have been looking for new forms of revenue since legislation in April allowed pensioners to retire without having to buy an annuity, which provides a life-long income.

Edinburgh-based Standard Life suffered a 66% fall in new annuity sales in the first half of 2015. However, overall, the insurance giant said its half-year pre-tax operating profit lifted by 6% in line with forecasts to £290m, after fees jumped by 17% to £761m.

It added that over the full-year it expected its annuity new business to fall by £10m to £15m.

The annuity reforms took the insurance industry by surprise when they were announced by Chancellor George Osborne in last year's March Budget. The changes came into force this year.

Shore Capital analyst Eamonn Flanagan said the results contained other "disappointing" charges such as a £46m hit from its Hong Kong business and £38m charge from the closure of its insurance unit in Singapore.

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