Standard Life operating profits up 9% but GARS flows drop 40%

Skeoch Keith Standard Life InvestmentsStandard Life has posted a pre-tax profit of £723m for 2016, up 9 per cent from £665m the previous year.

Assets under administration rose 16 per cent over the same period from £307.4bn to £357.1bn.

Standard Life Investments profits went from £342m to £383m, a rise of 12 per cent.

Retail assets are up 48 per cent from £42.6bn to £62.9bn, helped by the acquisition of Elevate which added £11.1bn in AUA when the deal completed last year.

However demand for the firm’s Global Absolute Return Strategies (GARS) dropped, with flows falling from £17bn in 2015 to £10.2bn in 2016.

Inflows onto the Standard Life Wrap went from £4.4bn to £4.1bn, though total assets are up 25 per cent over the year from £25.5bn to £31.9bn.

Standard Life’s UK pensions and savings division reports profits of £281m, down 3 per cent from £291m in 2015.

Standard Life chief executive Keith Skeoch says: “Standard Life continues to make good progress towards creating a world-class investment company. We have increased the pace of strategic delivery, against a backdrop of volatile investment markets, with growth in assets, profits, cash flows and returns to shareholders.

“Despite industry headwinds, we are benefiting from our strengthening global brand and strong long-term relationships with a well diversified range of clients and customers. The acquisition of Elevate has strengthened our leading position in the advised platform market.”

Standard Life has set aside £175m to cover the cost of redress as part of its review of non-advised annuity sales.

It emerged last year the provider is carrying out a review of all non-advised annuity sales from 2008 into whether customers were properly explained the option of taking out an enhanced annuity.

At the time the FCA said a small number of firms were in enforcement following a review of 1,200 non-advised sales at seven firms.

In October investment banking firm Jefferies estimated the cost of redress to Standard Life to be around £125m.

Standard Life’s full-year results, published today, show the actual figure to be higher at £175m.

The results say: “Non-operating items include a provision for non-advised annuity sales practices of £175m but take no account of a possible insurance recovery of up to £100m.”