Standard Life’s first half results were positive, but its ongoing transformation and focus on “efficiencies” means it has stripped 20m from its staff costs year-on-year.
The Scottish insurer’s interim results showed that its revamp over the last year has started to work. Pre-tax profits increased by 44% to hit 262m, and its fee-based revenue increased by 14% to 611m.
While this is undoubtedly positive, let’s not forget that the three-year transformation programme at the insurer – which they’re still in the middle of – has resulted in some fairly deep cuts as it looks to save 100m by 2012.
In September last year, Standard Life said it was axing 600 jobs, 480 of which would hit its Scottish HQ. It was, however, suggested that the insurer was both offering generous redundancy packages and hoped that retirement and attrition could reduce the risk for compulsory redundancies.
Staff costs fell from 328m in the first half of 2010 to 308m for the same period this year.
There’s also the fact that Standard Life has been paring back its use of contractors – over the last six months 140 have departed from the group.
Despite the positive results, there’s little indication that Standard Life is in growth mode again. Technology is the exception; because it’s investing in a number of new IT platforms as part of its cost cutting programme, it’s recruiting for both developers and business analysts in this area.
The development of its Adviserzone software last year – which offers online quotations and advice consultations – has reduced the need for customer services staff, and the number of UK-based employees in this area has reduced by 10% over the last year.
Standard Life Investments, meanwhile, which increased its headcount by 40 people last year, continues to offer a few opportunities, largely at a more junior level.