Standard Sipp sales hit by FSA review

Standard Life chief executive Sir Sandy Crombie has admitted that the FSA’s thematic review of pension switching contributed to a 26 per cent fall in new Sipp business in the first half of 2009.

Standard’s net inflows into Sipps reduced from £1.4bn to £959m despite the number of accounts increasing by 13 per cent to 74,700.

New business dropped to £1.5bn from £2.07bn due in part to lower incoming transfer values.

Crombie says regulatory intervention as well as Government tax changes contributed to the fall.

He says: “The tax changes have certainly caused an element of confusion. The other thing that has had an impact is the thematic review the FSA has been conducting on Sipps, with people rethinking their approach to selling and advising on them.”

Standard’s operating profit fell by 35 per cent to £243m compared with £377m.

The firm’s overall UK life and pensions sales fell by 24 per cent to £5.2bn down from £6.9bn. Assets under administration on the wrap increased by 35 per cent to £2.3bn compared with £1.7bn.

Standard’s capital surplus is £3.1bn, down from £3.3bn. The firm has bucked the trend by increasing its interim dividend by 2 per cent to 4.15p per share.

Analyst Keefe, Bruyette & Woods predicts a Sipp sales drive to counter half the firm’s legacy business maturing.

It says: “With more than 50 per cent of the value of in-force, mainly old-style with-profits legacy business being released over the next five years, we believe management will have to focus hard on selling new-age Sipp products to fill the gap.”

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