Friends Provident suffers 11% fall in sales

27 January 2009 / by Rachael Stiles
New sales at Friends Provident fell 11 per cent last year but the insurance and pensions provider insists it is "in good shape."

In a statement to ease shareholders' concerns, Friends Provident says it has made "excellent progress" to cut costs and weather the current economic storm.

The statement explained that sales in its insurance and pensions businesses fell to £1billion in 2008, compared to £1.135billion in 2007, due to a decline in UK sales as a result of the economic slowdown and ongoing turmoil in the financial markets.

Friends Provident has maintained a "strong capital position", it said, and has enjoyed a 19 per cent increase in overseas businesses to £465million, despite the slowdown in the UK economy.

The company said that it cut £25million from its costs by the end of last year, when it had reserves of £850million, and is on target to cut an estimated £40million of costs by the end of 2009.

"Friends Provident is in good shape despite the turmoil in financial markets and the uncertain economic environment." said chief executive officer, Trevor Matthews.

"We have made excellent progress cutting costs" and "excess capital remains healthy." he said.

While the economic environment in the UK and overseas markets remains "tough", Mr Matthews continued, Friends Provident continues to write "good levels" of new pension business.

And, unlike many other businesses which have suspended dividend payments to shareholders in order to save cash during the recession, Friends Provident said that its dividend policy remains unchanged.

© Fair Investment Company Ltd