Standard Life new business up 5pc as retirement funds sales rise
A NEAR-doubling in sales of approved retirement funds (ARFs) helped the Irish wing of Standard Life to boost new business by 5pc last year, confounding a 28pc market-wide fall.
The rude health of the local operation was revealed in Standard Life's full-year results, which showed a 7pc fall in the group's worldwide life and pensions business using the international yardstick that counts the present value of new business premiums.
Using that measure, known in the industry as PVNBP, sales from Standard Life's domestic Irish operations were up 11pc for the period, reflecting "the comprehensive choice and strength of the investment offering".
Standard Life's Irish rise comes in at 5pc when it's calculated on an Annual Premium Equivalent basis -- the measurement norm in the Irish market, which counts 10pc of a year's single premium sales plus all regular premium business.
The rise came as Standard Life's ARF sales surged 81pc to €263m, reflecting an increase in the number of retiring employees taking out policies amid fears of impending pension levies.
The dramatic increase also overlapped with Standard Life's controversial 'Heathrow Pensions' which allowed customers to bypass rules restricting ARFs to company directors and the self-employed.
Standard Life Ireland marketing boss Brendan Barr said the Heathrow Pensions, which have since been discontinued, accounted for just 3pc of Standard Life's overall Irish sales last year.
He added that the main factors behind Standard Life's dramatic market out-performance were popular funds, superior fund performance, the strength of its deposit panel and its unique status as the only Irish-based insurer covered by the UK Policyholder Protection Scheme.
Buy-out bonds, popular among those taking redundancy, were also a booming area for Standard Life Ireland last year, with sales rising 81pc to €31m, while investment-only business performed less well, dipping 18pc to €87m.