Standard Life have posted some positive news – that sales of pensions in last quarter were up 30% on the same time last year. The insurer had sold £4.6billion of pension products, which gave hope to other pension providers who are expected to announce their results shortly.
Standard Life’s focus is primarily on the UK market, so its results were expected to mirror the roller coaster ride that the British economy has had. However, the upturn in pension sales has come as a pleasant surprise to commentators and initially to the Standard Life management team.
Despite a level of doom and gloom that exists in the economy, a spokesman for Standard Life said that the man on the street was more resilient than analysts had thought, and had continued to invest in pension products. New Chief Financial Officer Jackie Hunt said that she believed people were beginning to appreciate the need to save for their retirements, and that they had experienced a large increase in the number of people who were seeking advice on the subject.
The strong results were also underpinned by new deals the insurer has won to manage employee schemes, although a spokesman did confirm that existing schemes they managed had been affected by falls in recruitment and lower salary rises (which would have affected the amounts paid in as contributions).
It remains to be seen whether the strong results were due to Standard Life’s recent advertising campaign aimed at younger people, encouraging them to get a reality check on their finances. The campaign was launched over a variety of media including the TV channel Dave. Some of Standard Life’s competitors were initially sceptical, but the move seems to have paid off.
Legal and General and Aviva are due to announce results in the coming weeks, so it will be interesting to see if they have enjoyed a similar period of growth.