`Fierce' Competition Delays Profits at Standard Life Bank

Article excerpt

STANDARD LIFE, Britain's biggest mutual insurer, has had to extend its estimate of when Standard Life Bank expects to make profits from one to two years, as competition grows in the savings market.

Scott Bell, managing director, said yesterday: "The market place is very competitive. Everyone is being squeezed at the margin. We expect the business to be profitable in two year from now, a year later than when we started. "

Rivals have claimed that Standard Life has been far less active this year in the mortgage market compared with 1999. However, Mr Bell said that with a mortgage book of pounds 5.5bn, up by 67 per cent on 1999, its share of the market was now sustainable. "We do think in the long term it will be a good business for us."

Mr Bell unveiled a 25 per cent jump in worldwide new business premiums to more than pounds 5.1bn in the year ended 15 November. He repeated Standard Life's commitment to remain mutual, and expected the group to grow business by a further 25 per cent next year.

Standard Life attacked government proposals to scrap "polarisation", allowing big banks and insurance groups to sell other institutions' products. The proposals were in last month's pre- Budget report on the recommendation of the Financial Services Authority (FSA), after pressure from the big financial institutions. …