Glasgow-based Scottish Friendly bullish after sales increase in pivotal 2019

Scottish Friendly, the largest indigenous financial mutual north of the Border, has today announced that sales saw double-digit growth in a “landmark” period in its history – while it stressed that it is well-positioned to face the future in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Boss Jim Galbraith said 2019 'represented a landmark period in our history'. Picture: Peter Devlin.

The Glasgow-based firm, which has roots stretching back to 1862 and was established as the City of Glasgow Friendly Society, said sales of its savings and investments last year increased by 12 per cent to £13.5 million, “driven largely through direct marketing activity and e-business channels”, while members jumped by nearly 120,000.

Additionally, it saw a consecutive year of growth in sales of branded Investment ISAs “during a period of sustained market uncertainty”.

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Overall, total sales for the year hit £37.8m APE (the industry-standard measure of annual premium equivalent – regular premiums plus a tenth of single premiums), the third-highest level in the financial mutual’s history. Assets under management (AUM) grew by 82.8 per cent to £5.3 billion, boosted by the acquisition of a £2.4bn book of life and pensions business from Canada Life UK in November.

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Scottish Friendly sales soar in record results

The financial services group also reported an increase in member numbers to a record 712,000, up from 594,000 the year before, with 90,000 of those additional members as a result of the book of life and pensions business acquired from Canada Life UK.

Scottish Friendly – which adopted its current name in 1992 – added that while the outlook for the UK economy has waned since the outbreak of Covid-19, the mutual remains “well-capitalised and is in a strong financial position to maintain the high-level of support that its customers have come to expect”.

Chief executive Jim Galbraith said: “The performance of the business in 2019 is testament to the capabilities, resilience and agility of a modern mutual. The past year has brought new market challenges, but it’s represented a landmark period in our history, with the successful completion of a significant book of life and pensions business from Canada Life UK.”

He added that the economic outlook for the UK is now dominated by Covid-19 “and therefore it is important our operational framework remains flexible to serve the changing needs of our customers”.

Galbraith said: “We have dealt with a significant rise in customer enquiries in recent weeks and have introduced new ways of working to cater for this increase in demand… we take strength from our mutuality and the fact that we have experienced many financial cycles in our long history. We have always maintained a long-term view and we believe we are as well-placed as ever to provide sustainable growth in value for all of our new and existing members.”

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