Belfast Telegraph

DIY pensions make their mark on Standard Life

By Graeme Evans

Standard Life said it was well placed to benefit from market and regulatory changes after it delivered better-than-expected profits.

The Edinburgh-based insurer posted operating profits of £262m in the six months to June 30, up 44% on a year earlier after ongoing cost cutting measures and a 16% rise in new business sales to £11.2bn. Standard's shares jumped after the results, which chief executive David Nish said represented "real progress" in the group's three-year transformation plan.

The company has been helped by lower commission costs as more IFAs switch to fee-charging ahead of next year's overhaul of retail distribution rules.

It said it was focused on working with IFAs who are best placed to prosper in the new market environment, allowing it to grow its intermediary market share without incurring the cost of commission on new business.

In the UK, it has 926 adviser firms on its Wrap platform, compared with 727 a year earlier. Collectively, its platforms now account for 189,000 customers with assets approaching the £11bn mark.

The figures showed UK customer numbers in its popular DIY-style, self-invested, personal pension (SIPP) products rose 26% in the first half to 120,800, while it secured 86 corporate pension schemes and added 41,000 new employees to a Standard Life pension scheme in total.

Its results also reflected efforts to slash costs in order to shore up profit margins, including 600 job losses in the UK last September.

The company delivered £30m of cost efficiencies in the period.