Wealth manager St James's Place Capital said new sales in the last quarter of 2005 leapt 39 per cent from a year earlier as demand for pensions swelled ahead of new investment rules this year.
The increase marked an acceleration from growth of 29 per cent in the previous two quarters and was at the top end of analysts' expectations.
St James's, which advises more than 400,000 clients with at least £50,000 to invest, said it was reaping the benefit of greater confidence in stock markets and from new pension rules to be introduced in April - so-called "A" Day - aimed at encouraging people to save for retirement.
"The key driver is the type of clients we deal with. There's a high degree of confidence from that segment of the market about investing for the future, so the sentiment is very positive," said Mark Lund, chief executive.
St James's said new business sales in 2005 reached £221 million, up 25 per cent from 2004. The sales beat analysts' consensus forecast of £212.6 million.
Full-year growth comfortably outpaced St James's annual target of growing new business by 15-20 per cent. It repeated that target for long-term growth, or about the next five years.
"We're comfortable with that range. It's a bit like the high jump, and the bar has gone up for 2006," Mr Lund said.
Analysts said St James's is the most exposed listed company to A-Day, and Mr Lund said the company was well placed to take advantage of the opportunities.
Sales of pensions products jumped 27 per cent last year and were up 41 per cent in the final quarter. Investment sales rose 31 per cent on the year and 50 per cent in the last quarter. ..SUPL: