Standard Life hails UK bounce back

Standard LifeLife and pensions group Standard Life has unveiled a surge in profits helped by a "significant improvement" at its UK arm.

The Edinburgh-based business, which has more than six million customers and is one of the UK's biggest corporate pensions providers, reported a 15% rise in operating profits before tax to £302 million in the first six months of the year.
The UK saw a 62% leap in profits to £141 million, driven by the popularity of its DIY-style self-invested personal pension (SIPP) products, which increased customer numbers by 22% to 147,000 in the period.

The company also said new changes to financial advice regulation - known as the Retail Distribution Review - had allowed it to increase its market share without incurring the cost of commission on new business with independent financial advisors.

The group's Canadian arm held back a stronger performance after interim profits at the division fell 30% to £72 million due to the country's low interest rate environment.

Standard Life shares rose more than 5% after the latest results. The stock has made steady gains in the past year amid expectations it will gain from the UK's rising life expectancy and Government changes to increase the proportion of the population saving for retirement.

Last year, 17% of the population were aged 65 and over and this is expected to increase to 23% by 2033.

Standard Life said assets under administration in the UK fees business rose 4% to £104.3 billion, while business net inflows of £900 million were flat on the same period last year.

David Nish, chief executive, said: "The industry is undergoing a period of significant change and we believe that this brings opportunity. We are well prepared for the regulatory and market changes on the horizon, and have invested to make sure we are even better placed to meet the needs of our customers and their advisers."

Its international division saw a 47% surge in operating profits before tax to £28 million, including a strong performance from its China and India arm.

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