Standard Life boosts inflows as low rates persist

British insurer and asset manager Standard Life has reported strong net inflows for the third quarter as investors looked to increase returns against a backdrop of low interest rates and volatile markets.

Standard Life boosts inflows as low rates persist

Standard Life has been switching its focus from insurance products such as annuities to “fee-based” business such as more flexible drawdown pensions and its asset management arm. Falling stock markets and a slowdown in Chinese growth have hit global investment returns this year.

“Horizons are short, people are uncertain, but I don’t detect any sense of panic or crisis,” CEO Keith Skeoch said .

“People are thinking about the composition of their portfolios in a regime where growth is slow, inflation is very low and therefore interest rates are lower for longer.”

Third-quarter net inflows of £2.4bn (€3.32bn) beat analysts’ expectations while overall assets under administration rose 2% in the first nine months to £302bn.

Standard Life Ireland said its funds under management rose to €8.7bn at the end of the quarter from €8bn in January as “increased market value” boosted underlying assets.

It welcomed the ending of the pension levy by Finance Minister Michael Noonan, but called for the removal of “the equally unfair 1% levy on premiums paid into investment and savings policies”.

JP Morgan analysts reiterated their overweight rating on the stock, calling the flows data “a solid set of numbers... with beats across the board”.

The strong flows data follows similar results for other UK asset managers such as St James’s Place and Hargreaves Lansdown, helped by new UK pensions freedoms which allow greater investment flexibility.

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