New pensions slump as Standard Life announces record sales


New pensions slump as Standard Life announces record sales
Standard Life has announced that worldwide sales were up 12 per cent and that it expected to achieve all 2007 financial and efficiency targets.

The sales figures, slightly above forecasts, come a day after rival UK insurer Prudential beat forecasts, posting a more than a 25 per cent increase in yearly sales.

Against the positive sales figures, however, new pension investments for the fourth quarter fell by 20 per cent in the UK, with pension sales falling to £2.92 billion.

The group also announced that Trevor Matthews, chief executive of UK financial services, will be resigning. He is reported to be joining rival UK insurer Friends Provident as chief executive.

"The group's performance in 2007 was good, consolidating the strong progress made in previous years," said Sandy Crombie, chief executive of Standard Life, in the yearly update.

"Standard Life Investments continues to deliver strong growth, despite challenging market conditions in the second half of the year."

Contrary to expectations, gross mortgage lending remained strong throughout the year.

Standard Life said lending volumes for the year increased by 22 per cent to £3,652 million, compared to £2,995 million in 2006.

Commenting on the year ahead, Mr Crombie said markets would "remain difficult" in 2008, but that he expected performance to improve over the period.

The Edinburgh-based insurer and investment bank has seen its share price fall just over a half of a percentage point to 276p in early trading.

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