Scottish Friendly assets up 83% to £5.3bn after deal

Jim Galbraith, Scottish Friendly CEO

Scottish Friendly, Scotland’s largest financial mutual, on Thursday announced record sales of Investment ISAs — also known as stocks and shares ISAs — as it reported its financial performance for 2019.

In the year to December 31, 2019, Investment ISA sales increased 12% to £13.5 million.

Overall, total sales for the year reached £37.8 million APE, the industry standard measure of annual premium equivalent — regular premiums plus one tenth of single premiums.

The £37.8 million was the third highest level sales figures in the financial mutual’s 158-year history, but down from last year’s £38.6 million.

Meanwhile, assets under management (AUM) soared 82.8% to £5.3 billion over the same period, boosted by the acquisition of a £2.4 billion book of life and pensions business from Canada Life UK in November 2019. 

Scottish Friendly also reported an increase in members to a record 712,000, up from 594,000 the year before, with 90,000 of the new members a result of the life and pensions business acquired from Canada Life UK. 

Scottish Friendly chief executive Jim Galbraith said: “The performance of the business in 2019 is testament to the capabilities, resilience and agility of a modern mutual.

“The past year has brought new market challenges, but it’s represented a landmark period in our history, with the successful completion of a significant book of life and pensions business from Canada Life UK. 

“We have welcomed thousands of new customers, seen demand for our Investment ISA products continue to grow and been recognised as the ‘Best Junior ISA’ provider in the industry. 

“The economic outlook for the UK is now largely dominated by COVID-19 and therefore it is important our operational framework remains flexible to serve the changing needs of our customers, while providing the necessary support for all of our colleagues, the vast majority of which are working from home. 

“We acted quickly to adapt to recent events and to minimise disruption to the business, which has allowed us to continue to operate without interruption.

“We have dealt with a significant rise in customer enquiries in recent weeks and have introduced new ways of working to cater for this increase in demand.

“As a business, we take strength from our mutuality and the fact that we have experienced many financial cycles in our long history.

“We have always maintained a long-term view and we believe we are as well-placed as ever to provide sustainable growth in value for all of our new and existing members.”