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NU boosts sales as service improves

Norwich Union claims its strong sales figures in the UK in the first nine months are largely down to improved service standards.

Parent group Aviva figures show total worldwide sales rose 22 per cent to £22,718m from £18,601m in the same period last year. NU’s UK life and pension business grew by 31 per cent from £6,686m to £8,791m. With-profits bond sales more than doubled to £552m and UK investment sales overall shot up by 96 per cent from £855m to £1,673m.

But equity-release business was down by 16 per cent to £235m and annuity sales were down by 6 per cent.

NU says annuity business is down because it is continuing to price for profit rather than volume and it puts falling equity-release sales down to a “subdued” market.

But figures from Safe Home Income Plans released last week show that the equity-release market is growing slowly but steadily. Ship reported a 12.3 per cent rise in sales in the third quarter compared with quarter two.

NU UK chief executive Mark Hodges says: “We have had more new business in the last nine months than in the whole of 2005 and we have seen huge growth because of the A-Day changes and our improved service standards. We predict good growth in the next year as the A-Day effect wears off.

“The equity-release market is still contracting but we have just over 30 per cent of the market share. We are not chasing the annuity market on price.”

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