Standard Life 

SLA profits take a hit as fees dip

SLA profits take a hit as fees dip

Profits at Standard Life Aberdeen took a hit in the first half of this year as the fund manager and advice business took £151m less in revenue from fees compared with last year. 

In its half year results published today (August 7) Standard Life Aberdeen reported an adjusted pre-tax profit of £280m for the first six months of 2019, down from £311m in the same period in 2018 and at a drop of almost 10 per cent. 

This drop in profits reflected lower revenue at the company, with money earned from fees so far this year dropping by 15 per cent from £966m last year to £815m.  

But Standard Life Aberdeen said this year's subdued revenue had been partially offset by a continued savings in operating expenses, which reduced by 5 per cent to £673m, as the business strives for its target of annual cost savings of at least £350m by the end of 2020. 

Assets under management at the group increased by 5 per cent, growing from £551.5bn at the end of last year to £577.5n this year, and assets under administration on its Wrap and Elevate platforms increased from £54.2bn to £59.8bn in the same period. 

In the results Keith Skeoch, chief executive at Standard Life Aberdeen, gave a nod to the £35bn of assets retained by the company as a result of the dispute settled between it and Scottish Widows. 

Mr Skeoch said: "We have made good progress in reshaping our business so that it is set up to take advantage of the trends impacting our industry both globally and in the UK.

"We are encouraged by an improvement in our investment performance and a growing number of strategies with positive ratings from investment consultants. We are seeing inflows that are more diverse and are pleased to have retained £35bn of Lloyds Banking Group assets.

"This, combined with lower redemptions and better markets, has helped us to increase assets by 5 per cent to £577bn. Our focus on efficiency has delivered more cost savings, which combined with the benefits of share buybacks, has helped to increase earnings per share to 8.9p." 

The company said its advice business 1825 had benefitted from an expansion in the UK with the acquisition of BDO Northern Ireland's advice arm and Grant Thornton UK, deals which increased the assets under advice by around 40 per cent to £6bn. 

Standard Life Aberdeen said it was "well placed" to take advantage of future opportunities and deal with challenges presented by "ongoing changes in the industry", but warned the current environment for asset management remained tough as "macroeconomic and political uncertainties continue to affect investor sentiment". 

The company added: "As we look ahead we will maintain our focus on operational and strategic delivery. This includes delivering for our clients and customers by focusing on our investment performance and continuing to innovate in areas of market growth.

"We will also remain focused on driving operational efficiency and cost control as we move closer to completing the integration and the implementation of our simplified global operating model."