Page last updated at 12:14 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008

Standard Life cuts final payouts

Standard Life
About two million Standard Life savers will find their final bonus payouts cut

Standard Life has decided to cut final bonus payouts, affecting about two million of the insurer's savers.

The Edinburgh-based company said it was also introducing stricter penalties for policyholders who want to cash in their pensions and investments early.

The company blamed the heavy falls in the stockmarket for the moves.

But the company's chief executive Sandy Crombie said the firm had put in a "solid performance" this year despite market turbulence.

Standard Life will also introduce market value reductions to more with-profits plans and also raise existing ones, in some cases by up to 30%.

However, Mr Crombie sought to allay worries that Standard Life's capital strength would be whittled away by tumbling share prices.

He said: "The conservative investment management policies we have adopted over the past few years have resulted in a balance sheet that is both strong and resilient."

The firm's savings and investment sales fell by 29% between July and September as markets fell.

It said its capital buffer fell by just 100m to 3.4bn in the three months to September and that it could ride out a further 40% fall in stock markets.

Share turmoil

Standard Life said worldwide life and pensions sales were virtually flat at 12.4bn in the nine months to September 30.

Strong growth in its international operations offset continued weakness in the UK, where life and pension sales of 9.8bn were 5% below last year.

During the third quarter - traditionally the weakest of the year even before the market chaos - life and pensions sales fell 14%.

The impact of share turmoil on pension pots across the UK was demonstrated by a 400m fall in group pension funds under management so far this year to 14.6bn - with strong growth in new business more than offset by tumbling share prices.

The firm's savings and investment sales slid 29% between July and September as markets fell.

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