The group says the closure of the managed sales force in the Republic of Ireland in 2006 and the cessation of sales of pensions term assurance in the UK from December 2006 contributed significantly to the reduction.
But its protection arms Progress and Caledonian Life performed strongly. Progress’ profile grew further over the past year and has reported record levels of new protection business in the first quarter of 2008.
Caledonian Life’s sales figures for 2007 were buoyant, especially the with-profits bond. Royal Liver says a number of initiatives implemented last year, such as the launch of a new mortgage protection serious illness product and the introduction of an on-line broker’s resource centre, have contributed to this.
The group admitted its adviser arm, Park Row, had a “Challenging 2007”. It lost around 100 advisers and closed 17 branches after unsuccessfully integrating its managed sales force into the business. It will concentrate on recruiting advisers throughout 2008 and is confident its flexible working conditions and new technology system will attract quality candidates.
Royal Liver chief executive Steve Burnett says: “These results reflect the ongoing benefits of our modernisation strategy which has created a stronger, more focused group. Delivering the society back to an expense surplus position is a true achievement in the face of a constant battle to manage our inevitably declining legacy book and despite challenging market conditions. In addition, our new business areas continue to grow, with particular success in the protection market.
“We have seen an excellent start to 2008 continuing the trends we saw in 2007. Although turbulent economic conditions will no doubt create challenges, we have confidence that Royal Liver is well positioned to make further progress in 2008.”