Page last updated at 12:46 GMT, Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Strong year end for Standard Life

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Standard Life says "market sentiment" has improved

Edinburgh insurer Standard Life has revealed a fourth quarter sales rebound.

The life and pensions group said UK sales leapt 38% to £2.88bn over the last three months of 2009.

Over the full year however, there was a decline in worldwide new business of 7% with UK annual sales falling by 10%.

Standard Life said it had seen record levels of third-party assets under management as investor nerves eased amid recent stock market rises.

Jackie Hunt, interim chief financial officer at Standard Life, said there was a definite "improved market sentiment", with investors moving from heavy cash holdings into more investment, risk-based products.

Retirement benefits

Standard Life's fourth quarter hike in sales showed a marked improvement on the 20% plunge recorded in the previous three months.

UK pensions business soared by 42% over the period, with demand shooting up for DIY-style Self Invested Personal Pensions (Sipps).

By the end of the year Standard Life had 27% more Sipp accounts and 36% more Sipp funds under management, at £11.8bn.

The group also said a rush for customers to take retirement benefits ahead of the minimum age increasing from 50 to 55 provided another spike in activity.

Standard Life recently appointed finance chief David Nish as its new chief executive.

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