Standard Life assets beat City forecasts

Standard Life's assets grew in the face of volatile markets. Picture: Neil Hanna
Standard Life's assets grew in the face of volatile markets. Picture: Neil Hanna
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STANDARD Life’s chief executive Keith Skeoch hailed a solid performance as the life and pensions group beat forecasts on both assets under administration (AuM) and net inflows in the latest quarter.

In its third-quarter update, the Edinburgh-headquartered company said AuM had edged up 2 per cent to £301.9 billion, compared to £296.6bn at the beginning of the financial year, despite volatile market conditions.

The figure came in ahead of the £297bn pencilled in by City analysts.

Third-quarter net inflows of £2.4bn also beat expectations with 64 per cent of inflows in the year to date coming from outside the UK as it continues to expand its global reach.

The company’s strong position in workplace pensions in the UK also helped customer numbers increase.

Chief executive Keith Skeoch, who took over from previous boss David Nish in August, said: “Standard Life has performed well against a backdrop of volatile investment markets. We have delivered consistently strong investment performance and record third party net inflows of £10bn across our institutional and wholesale channels.”

He added: “We remain well positioned with clients and customers to deliver growth as we continue to innovate and increase collaboration across our businesses.”

Standard Life said it has added 190,000 new customers so far this year, including 70,000 in the third quarter through auto-enrolment into company pension schemes.

Eamonn Flanagan, an analyst at Shore Capital highlighted the group’s excellent net inflows during the quarter but said there was “little proof yet evident that it is materially outperforming as an asset gatherer/manager”, which he said would differentiate it from its asset manager peers”.

He retains a “hold” rating on the shares.

Analysts at JP Morgan also described the inflow figures as a “solid set of numbers” and reiterated their “overweight” rating on the stock.

During the period, Standard Life agreed terms to increase its stake in its HDFC Life joint venture in India from 26 per cent to 35 per cent for £170m.

The move followed a decision by the Indian government to increase the limit on foreign direct investment in the local insurance sector.

HDFC and Standard Life launched the joint venture in 2000.

It was the first private life insurance company to be granted a licence to operate in India.