Standard Life reports sharp rise in operating profit
Standard Life's share price rose by more than 3% in early trading after the pensions and insurance firm reported a sharp rise in pre-tax operating profit.
A move into asset management helped to drive a 19% rise in profit to £604m last year, offsetting a hit to annuity sales from British pension reforms.
Fee-based revenue during the year grew 14% to £1.43bn, boosted by the firm's acquisition of Ignis Asset Management.
The deal also helped assets under administration grow 38% to £296.6bn.
Edinburgh-based Standard Life more than doubled the number of auto-enrolment pension customers in the UK last year.
The group said it added more than 340,000 auto-enrolment customers in 2014, taking the total to over 560,000 since the process began.
The company also said changes allowing people to unlock pensions savings announced in last year's Budget had caused a "significant reduction" in demand for individual annuities, and were expected to see a "step down in the profitability" in part of the group.
It also pointed to a reduced contribution from annuity new business of £10m-£15m.
But the group said investments made in the UK business in recent years had left it "well-positioned to benefit from evolving customer needs and regulatory changes".
Chief executive David Nish added: "We are also well-positioned to deal with the far-reaching reforms to the savings and retirement income rules in the UK and to support customers through these changes."
During the year, Standard sold its Canadian operations, triggering a £1.75bn windfall for shareholders. It announced a final dividend of 11.43p, making a total of 17.03p for the year - up 7.8% on 2013.
Last year Mr Nish's pay and bonus rose by 23% to almost £5.5m, while Standard Life Investments chief executive Keith Skeoch saw his package rise by 21% to nearly £5.3m.