Friday 23 February 2018

Standard Life's growth shrinks in third quarter


Laura Noonan

STANDARD Life's 60pc growth in the first half of the year swung to a 16pc contraction in the third quarter as the weakening economy and uncertainty over pension policy pummelled the market.

The dramatic reversal of new business sales was revealed in new figures released by Standard Life and its UK parent yesterday and comes after market data showed a 12pc fall in industry-wide new business for the quarter.

"It's a tough market out there," Standard Life Ireland's marketing director Brendan Barr said yesterday, pointing to the uncertainty around pension policy and the pension levy as two of the key drags on the market.

He stressed, however, that Standard Life Ireland's domestic sales were still up 30pc for the first nine months, putting it well ahead of the 2pc fall across the market for the same period.

Single-premium sales have been the most resilient, rising 42pc for Standard Life Ireland over the three quarters, while annual premium sales fell 24pc, reflecting a reluctance to commit to regular payments.

Mr Barr said he couldn't comment in detail on the fourth quarter's performance to date, but said the pensions market was "quiet" in what was usually the busiest time of the year.

Standard Life also operates an international hub out of its Dublin base -- sales there were up 32pc for the first nine months.

News of Standard Life's third- quarter reversal provides a grim backdrop to the sale of Irish Life Assurance, which recently drew second-round bids from three potential buyers. The bids are understood to have come in below expectations.

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