London: Insurer Standard Life beat expectations with a 7% drop in sales during 2009, as a market recovery during the second half helped soften the impact of crisis-hit UK consumers cutting back on savings.
Standard Life, Britain’s fifth-biggest insurer by market value and the first to detail sales for the full year, said it saw “good momentum” as it moved into 2010, despite an uncertain environment, adding it saw “good prospects” for its UK arm.
The insurer said life and pensions sales for the 12 months totalled £14.7 billion ($23.4 billion). Analysts had expected sales of £13.8 billion, according to the average of 13 analyst estimates compiled by the company.
In the UK, its core market, sales dropped 10% to £10.1 billion.
Net inflows remained stable at £2.7 billion. Excluding the impact of a decision not to renew lower margin UK bulk investment deals, net inflows were up 57% at 3.2 billion.
Standard Life’s long-time boss Sandy Crombie announced his intention to step down last year, and has since been replaced by finance director David Nish.
Mutual insurer Royal London, Britain’s largest customer-owned life and pensions funds, said separately on Wednesday it had seen total new business rise 10% to £2.46 billion for the year, boosted by businesses acquired from rival Resolution in 2008.