Standard Life Aberdeen  

Standard Life platforms take hit as pension transfers slow

Standard Life platforms take hit as pension transfers slow

Standard Life Aberdeen’s retail platforms saw a 40 per cent drop in inflows last year as defined benefit transfers slowed.

In its annual results published today (March 13) Standard Life reported its Wrap and Elevate retail platforms had net inflows of £4.2bn in 2018, down on the company's record net flows of £7bn in 2017.

Standard Life attributed the fall to a decline in individuals looking to take advantage of high DB transfer values last year, following a boost in the pensions market the previous year.

Despite the drop, Standard Life stated these transfers continue to provide a "significant source" of inflows into its platform products.

The company's adjusted pre-tax profits from continuing operations took a slight hit last year, dropping to £650m, but remained broadly flat on 2017's £660m.

Gross inflows grew to £75.2bn, up from £72.4bn in 2017, despite a "challenging industry backdrop and weak investor sentiment".

Assets under advice in advice arm 1825 also increased to £4bn last year, up from £3.6bn in 2017 and following two acquisitions bringing in a total of £750m assets under advice. 

1825 bought Fraser Heath Financial Management Ltd and Cumberland Place Financial Management Ltd in March and April, brining the total number of financial planners under the advice arm to 80 across 14 locations and servicing more than 9,000 clients. 

Martin Gilbert, co-chief executive at Standard Life Aberdeen, who announced he would be stepping down, said: "In a tough year of continued change for our industry, we saw further net outflows - equivalent to about 7 per cent of our starting assets.

"Yet as we have shown by our increased gross inflows, we continue to develop a business that has the scale and breadth to compete globally - and to continue to get closer to British savers through our growing platforms."

Keith Skeoch, co-chief executive of Standard Life Aberdeen, said: "We are working hard to deliver what is within our control. Our integration process is running ahead of schedule and is now roughly 75 per cent complete even though we are less than halfway through the original timetable.

"We are encouraged by improvements in investment performance in key areas, and our 'new active' capabilities mean that we are set up well to capitalise on the trends and opportunities shaping our industry - while continuing to deliver value and returns for our shareholders."