'Pivotal moment' as Standard Life owner Phoenix hails record intake

Phoenix Group, the insurer that acquired the Edinburgh-headquartered Standard Life Assurance business in 2018, has announced record cash generation of more than £1.7 billion in 2021.

The firm surpassed its target range of £1.5bn to £1.6bn in the last 12 months, with organic growth from its “open” business more than offsetting the natural run-off of its “heritage” business.

Last year, the group bought the iconic Standard Life brand after funds giant Standard Life Aberdeen opted to change its name to Abrdn.

Phoenix said at the time the purchase of the Standard Life brand was “strategically important” to the group as it looks to increase its presence in a number of key markets - workplace pensions, bulk purchase annuities, lifetime mortgages and retail savings.

Andy Curran, CEO of Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group. Picture: Chris Close

Publishing its financial results for 2021, the firm said that having acquired the “trusted” Standard Life brand, it could now “fully leverage it to accelerate our future growth”.

Andy Curran, chief executive of Standard Life, said: “The past year has been a hugely successful year for Phoenix Group and included the major milestone of us acquiring the Standard Life brand. The Standard Life brand’s strength and the financial backing of the group is proving powerful.

“We want to deliver on our purpose of helping people secure a life of possibilities by making financial security in retirement more achievable, more widespread and generally fairer,” he added.

Steve Clayton, fund manager of the HL Select UK Income Shares fund, which holds a position in Phoenix Group, said: “This is a pivotal moment for Phoenix. Ever since the Standard Life acquisition the group has been talking about ‘proving the wedge’. The revelation that new business is now more than offsetting the natural decline of the acquired legacy books upon which the group is built shows that the group is now driving its own destiny organically.

“The dividend increase announced today leaves the stock trading on a very attractive yield of 7.8 per cent,” he added. “Phoenix’s challenge is now to prove that they can indeed maintain their new business capabilities and support the growth of their dividend into the future.”

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