UK sales and efficiencies continued to show benefits for financial services organisation Standard Life. The company reported that worldwide life and pension sales increased by eight per cent in the first quarter of 2008 to £4,477 million. In the UK life and pension sales rose by six per cent to £3,516m.

Standard Life described the UK market as “challenging due to market volatility and the impact of the Capital Gain Tax changes on bonds”. But it is confident; “Against this backdrop, we remain confident in our ability to outperform the market in the profitable segments we operate in.”

Sandy Crombie, group chief executive said, “We have delivered a solid performance in the first quarter against a backdrop of economic uncertainty and volatile markets. In the UK, we’ve seen robust performance.”

UK sales increased in the first quarter. Total sales of life and pensions rose by six per cent, which they say was driven by a 43 per cent increase savings and investment sales.

Overseas the performance was not as strong. Life and pension sales in Europe were 24 per cent lower than the same period last year.

The strong sales follow on from an impressive 2007 for the British company. Last year its operating profits before tax increased by 43 per cent to £881, as a result of efficiencies and new business lines.
Standard Life is pursuing a Continues Improvement Programme, which involves the integration of its UK life and pensions, banking and healthcare divisions. A Group Corporate Cost programme reduced costs to £57m in 2007, down from £89m in 2006.

As part of this strategy Standard Life has pursued an overhaul of its IT, including the adoption of service-oriented architecture that will be completely rolled out to the entire organisation by 2009. The single IT platform is expected to reduce costs by £100m.

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