Standard Life's sales rose by seven per cent in the three months of this year, a s Scotland's largest remaining mutual life assurer prepares for a stock market flotation this summer.
"The momentum that we were looking for in the business is coming through and the strategy that we had talked about is being delivered," said finance director Alison Reed yesterday.
Worldwide sales in the first quarter totalled £ 342 million, against £320 million in the same months last year. A decline in Germany was offset by stronger sales in Canada and Ireland.
In the UK, Standard's sales climbed 13 per cent to £263 million as single-premium business such as investment bonds offset a drop in traditional pensions and annuities, which have higher new business costs.
"They did the reorganis ation, chopped off unprofitable business and having done that they are in a position to start growing again, which is what they did," said analyst Roman Cizdyn at Oriel Securities.
"Plus 13 per cent is relatively respectable against the background of what has been happening to them."
Standard Life's revenues, squeezed during the bear market of the early 2000s, have suffered since 2003 from the sharp drop in the popularity of its flagship with-profits products and by worries about its finances.
After a 2004 review, Standard Life said it would move out of some pension products, cut commissions to agents and slash payouts on its policies to cut costs and reduce the strain on capital reserves.
In the first quarter of this year, single premium s ales including self-invested personal pensions rose by 52 per cent. SIPP sales alone more than doubled, while onshore bond sales increased by 166 per cent to £425 million.
"We have got in these numbers the evidence of a really significant turnaround, from a business that was focused on very strong commissions for individual pensions and also on group pensions to a business driven by SIPP perform-ance and investment product performance," Ms Reed said.
Standard Life Investments had a record quarter with worldwide investment sales up 141 per cent at £2.5 billion.
Standard Life said last month it aims to raise £1.1 billion in its flotation, which would give it a potential market value of £4.8 billion to £5.5 billion.