Standard Life sales growth falls short of forecasts

By Chris Vellacott

LONDON (Reuters) - Standard Life PLC's (LSE:SL.) shares fell on Wednesday after third-quarter new business and asset growth fell slightly short of forecasts.

In a trading statement, the Edinburgh-based company said new business in its long-term savings products grew by a fifth and the amount of money it manages rose 9 percent.

Both measures were a percentage point short of the expectations of 15 analysts polled by the company and Standard Life stock was trading down 2 percent by 8:30 a.m.

"The thing that is most important for me is ultimately how our business generates revenue and we've grown our revenues and fee-based propositions by 15 percent over the first nine months," Chief Executive David Nish said on a conference call with journalists after the earnings were published.

The company said a shake-up of Britain's private pensions system, particularly the introduction of automatic enrolment of UK employees to company schemes, should increase the flow of retirement savings coming under its management.

"Further benefits are expected from auto enrolment for new and existing corporate pension clients during 2014," the company said.

The amount of new business for long-term saving products was 17.3 billion pounds during the nine months to September 30, the company said, up from 14.4 billion pounds a year earlier,

Its fund management arm Standard Life Investments posted net inflows of new client money of 8.3 billion pounds over the period, of which 1.2 billion pounds was attributed to the third quarter of the year.

The division, which is seeking to expand its international reach, saw sales outside the UK nearly double.

(Reporting by Chris Vellacott; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)