Just  

Just shifts focus onto growth after period of rebuilding

Just shifts focus onto growth after period of rebuilding

Just has shifted its focus onto growth after spending the past two years rebuilding its balance sheet due to regulatory changes in the mortgage market.

The retirement income product provider is confident there are still significant opportunities to be had in its two big core markets - defined benefit de-risking and guaranteed income for life.

"They’re incredibly attractive markets because they grow by design," Steve Lowe, director of Just’s communications, told FTAdviser.

"There’s been a massive increase in auto-enrolment, which is compounded by an ageing population and rising retirement incomes. Estimates show the de-risking market alone could grow from £20bn to £100bn over the next 10 years."

Just was formed through the merger of Just Retirement and Partnership in 2015. The two companies - which specialised in providing annuities - had been hit by that year's pension freedom reforms but the merged company has since seen large growth in the defined benefit de-risking market.

In its results for the first half of 2021, Just’s retirement income sales climbed 22 per cent to £909m, which saw its adjusted operating profit jump 47 per cent to £90m.

Defined benefit de-risking sales were up 21 per cent to £555m, compared to £460m this time last year. Meanwhile its guaranteed income for life sales were up 24 per cent to £330.3m.

Lowe said the latter figure’s growth is now higher than pre-pandemic figures.

Just has also grown its underlying organic capital generation to £25m, which has jumped 733 per cent from £3m in the first half of 2020.

“By being a business generating its own organic capital, it enables you to invest more sustainably in further growth,” said Lowe.

He added that Just’s ultimate aim is to become a “self-fulfilling engine of growth”.

Just posted an £87m loss before tax for the year to June 2021. But Lowe passed this off as “a paper movement” due to the rising market rates.

The firm is hopeful that these first half losses will fall in the second half of this year. Since June, it said long term market rates have fallen which it believes “will have reversed some of the losses experienced in the first half of the year”.

Through Hub, its advice business, Just is in the process of rolling out its Destination Retirement product, which Lowe described as an “automated advice service for middle Britain consumers who want to start taking out a pension income”. 

Issued through employers, Hub partnered with Mercer, a business of Marsh & McLennan, in March. Lowe said Mercer has a plan to distribute Destination Retirement through its platform to company clients, of which it has more than 1,000.

Currently, Hub is “not currently sufficiently significant to separate from other companies' results”, according to Just.

It was therefore grouped into ‘other companies’ in the firm’s H1 2021 results, which posted a loss of £8m - consistent with their £7.9m loss in the same period last year.