Standard Life making '˜good progress' as profits jump

Life and pensions giant Standard Life today reported better-than-expected profits for the first half the year, helped by rising assets under management.

Standard Life's half-year profits beat City forecasts. Picture: Neil Hanna

The Edinburgh-based group posted an operating profit before tax of £341 million for the six months to the end of June, an increase of 18 per cent on the same period last year and ahead of the £314m forecast by City analysts.

Assets under administration rose 7 per cent to £328 billion, helped by net inflows of £4.1bn, and the firm said assets on its adviser wrap platform were up 20 per cent year-on-year at £28bn.

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Chief executive Keith Skeoch said: “Standard Life continues to make good progress towards building a world-class investment company, against a backdrop of volatile investment markets, by growing assets, profits, cash flows and returns to shareholders.

“Despite elevated uncertainty we are benefiting from our strong long-term relationships with a broad range of clients and customers who reacted in different ways to the changing market environment.”

Skeoch said a £179m deal to lift Standard Life’s 26 per cent stake in Indian life insurer HDFC Life to 35 per cent, and a proposed tie-up between the business and rival Max Life “will increase our exposure to the attractive and fast-growing Indian market”.

He added that the group’s purchase of Elevate from rival insurer Axa “will strengthen our leading position in the advised platform market”.

“Targeted investments to further our diversification agenda, together with our sharpened focus on operational efficiency, will increase our pace of strategic delivery,” Skeoch said.

“This will ensure we continue to meet changing client and customer needs and generate sustainable returns for our shareholders.”

Standard Life announced an interim dividend of 6.47p per share, an increase of 7.5 per cent on last year’s payout.