- Assets under management up nine per cent
- Headline numbers marginally behind consensus
- Pensions industry hit by lower charges proposal
Strong momentum in the UK saw pensions and savings provider Standard Life boast of continued third-quarter strong growth in assets under management but it was not quite enough to hit analysts' expectations.
The pensions industry was also hit by a proposal from UK pensions minister Steve Webb that a cap on auto-enrolment workplace pension scheme charges be introduced at 0.75%, lower than the 1% originally penciled in. A consultation paper was launched on Wednesday to examine the implementation of such a cap.
The FTSE 100 group made steady progress across each of its business units, with total assets under administration (AUA) rising 2% during the quarter to give a 9% increase since the start of the year to £237.6bn, very marginally below consensus of £239.2bn.
Broker Panmure Gordon argued the "solid" results were broadly in line with consensus and said the
Long-term savings' present value of new business premiums (PVNBP) rose 20% in the first nine months of the year to £17.3bn, this was again slightly behind consensus analyst forecasts of £17.5bn.
Long term savings net inflows of £2.75bn were 23% lower than consensus due to several factors but primarily driven by multi-asset fund net outflows particularly in August and an exceptionally strong first half performance.
Panmure's analysts said they understood that August's poor net outflows reversed in September and October and that the outlook was improving.
Strong net inflows of £7.7bn into its funds were aided by UK net retail inflows rising to stand 35% higher in the quarter than in the same period last year.
Fee-based revenue increased by 15% to £1.06bn thanks to growth across business units, broadly consistent with the first half of the year.
Standard Life admitted results were partly offset by an increase in gross outflows of Standard Life Investments institutional pensions business of £0.9bn, although it stressed that it did not impact the profitability of the UK business.
Chief Executive David Nish said the UK's corporate and retail businesses performed well, with the new auto-enrolment of pensions increasing the number of corporate pensions by 195,000 to 1.4m customers.
Fund management division, Standard Life Investments, continued to grow revenue in the third quarter, with third party net inflows of £8.3bn and good investment performance, as well as expanding its product range and geographic reach.
Looking forward, Standard Life said it was "capitalising on regulatory, market and demographic changes", with retail propositions gathering momentum with ongoing demand for investment solutions.
The pipeline of secured new corporate business is strong in investment and pensions, with further benefits expected from auto enrolment for new and existing corporate pension clients during 2014.
Panmure said that the shares
have underperformed the life sector since the interim results but argued this primarily reflected a disappointment that was driven by a timing issue in respect of Canada rather than anything of real substance.
"In our view Standard Life represents an attractive defensive play within the sector, is starting to benefit from RDR and auto-enrolment and yet following recent share price weakness is trading at a very attractive dividend yield of 4.3%."
Shares in Standard Life tracked down 3.2% to 357.39p at 09:45 on Wednesday.