Standard Life operating profit up 9% to £723m

Standard Life Aberdeen CEO Keith Skeoch

Edinburgh-based investment, pensions and insurance giant Standard Life said its operating profit before tax rose 9% to £723 million in 2016 and assets under administration rose by 16% to £357.1 billion as it benefited from a diversified range of clients and customers — but it had outflows of £2.6 billion.

Profit for the year attributable to shareholders of Standard Life plc rose 33% to £368 million and full year dividend per share was up 8.0% to 19.82p.

Standard Life shares were trading mainly unchanged around 375p, giving it a current stock market value of about £7.4 billion.

Institutional assets under management increased by 13% to £87 billion, wholesale assets were up 6% to £50.1 billion, workplace assets grew 13% to £37.4 billion — and retail assets under management increased by 48% to £62.9 billion, partly reflecting the acquisition of Elevate, which added £11.1 billion.

On the subject of any potential M&A, Standard Life CEO Keith Skeoch told reporters: “We have long-term ambitions … we are continually scanning the horizon to see what’s available.”

Skeoch said the Brexit vote could lead to the company’s asset management division Standard Life Investments division recruiting “tens” of staff in Frankfurt or Luxembourg.

In his statement to accompany the results, Skeoch said: “Standard Life continues to make good progress towards creating a world-class investment company.

“We have increased the pace of strategic delivery, against a backdrop of volatile investment markets, with growth in assets, profits, cash flows and returns to shareholders.

“Despite industry headwinds, we are benefiting from our strengthening global brand and strong long-term relationships with a well diversified range of clients and customers.

“The acquisition of Elevate has strengthened our leading position in the advised platform market while the increase in the stake in HDFC Life and the proposed combination with Max Life will increase our exposure to the attractive and fast growing Indian market.

“We are already seeing the benefits of targeted investments to further our diversification agenda, including the success of our newer investment solutions, and the sharpened focus on operational efficiency.

“This increased pace of strategic delivery will ensure that we continue to meet changing client and customer needs, and generate growing and sustainable returns for our shareholders.”