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Sesame BG reveals £19m loss following past business review

Sesame Bankhall Group has reported a pre-tax loss of £19m for 2013 following a past business review.

The voluntary review, which was announced after the advice firm was fined £6m by the FCA for suitability failures in July last year, covers Keydata sales and pension transfers carried out between July 2010 and September 2012.

Friends Life, the parent company of Sesame, has made an undisclosed provision in relation to this review and admits the £19m loss is “disappointing”. The insurer says a strategic review of Sesame is “ongoing”.

Elsewhere, Friends Life’s UK division has announced a pre-tax profit of £40m for 2013, overturning the £32m loss reported in 2012. UK sales were up 8 per cent year-on-year from £669m to £724m.

Corporate benefits sales grew 7 per cent, from £535m to £574m, as the provider staged 274 schemes for auto-enrolment. However, Friends Life says “significant” numbers of employers are paying the minimum pension contribution of 1 per cent.

Retirement income sales surged 50 per cent from £44m in 2012 to £66m in 2013, with the proportion of existing customers choosing to purchase an annuity from Friends Life increasing from 25 per cent in 2011 to 34 per cent in 2013.

Finally, protection sales were down 15 per cent from £90m in 2012 to £84m last year. The provider says the 2012 figure was boosted by a surge in sales in the fourth quarter ahead of the implementation of gender neutral pricing.

Friends Life chief executive Andy Briggs (pictured) says: “The restructuring of the business is now complete. We have a sustainable business with a profitable base for future growth. 

“We operate in attractive growth markets, focused on managing legacy life and pension products, and capturing value in the fast-growing retirement provision market.

“We will continue to seek to maximise value from each part of the group while retaining its focus on rigorous financial discipline. We remain focused on generating growth in both cash and returns while maintaining our strong capital base.”

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