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Friends Life sales surge despite Budget annuities hit

Friends Life’s UK division saw sales increase 11 per cent in the nine months to September 2014 despite the Budget reforms hitting retirement income new business.

The provider’s interim management statement, published this morning, reveals sales rose from £521m in the first nine months of 2013 to £579m this year. This was driven by a 14 per cent surge in corporate benefits new business, from £408m to £465m, while protection sales were also up 11 per cent, from £63m to £70m.

Retirement income new business was impacted by the Budget reforms and fell 12 per cent during the period, from £50m in 2013 to £44m this year. Friends Life says this compares favourably to the wider market, where annuity sales tumbled 32 per cent in the first half of the year.

The provider also confirms its intention to launch a retail platform which will be available to customers from April next year. The platform will offer a flexi-income drawdown product alongside an Isa offering and a general investment account.

The provider’s ‘Heritage’ division, which focuses on legacy customers, saw sales drop from £53m to £32m. The FCA is currently carrying out a review of legacy business to assess back book strategy and governance, how products have performed and the quality of communications.

Friends Life group chief executive Andy Briggs says: “The group has continued to make good operating progress during the third quarter. I am particularly pleased with the sales momentum in the UK division fuelled by our corporate benefits and protection businesses.

“Development of our new retirement proposition is on track, we have further enhanced our customer engagement, and I look forward with confidence to the launch of the new propositions and the new retail platform in April next year. I am also encouraged by the progress we are making in our international division, with the benefits of the roll out of the new platform and product and sales initiatives coming through.”


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  1. As regards Andy Briggs’ statement about Friends’ international division, perhaps it’s time he took a look at the way his business is conducted in expat locations before being ‘encouraged by progress’.

    Rogue unqualified and commission-hungry salesmen, expats who’ve lost their life savings due to blatant mis-selling, Friends’ total lack of due diligence as regards LMIM and the fact it was offering the product right up the week the administrators were called in, plus the EEA debacle, etc, etc, etc. All protected by its so-called offshore customer service centres with their cosy relationships with dodgy FAs, many of whom can’t now be found anywhere in expat land.

    Not to mention the massive online denigration of its ILAS products, which make loads of money for the salesmen and the provider itself and ensure that investors lose out. Shareholders will be happy, though, and that’s all that matters to Briggs.

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