UPDATE 1-Standard Life Aberdeen profit falls 17% as rebranding under way | Reuters

Standard Life Aberdeen said on Tuesday its adjusted full-year profits fell 16.6% to 487 million pounds ($674 million) as the British asset manager reconfigures its global operations.

This was above expectations of 408 million pounds.

The first full-year results under CEO Stephen Bird set out a new strategic direction after it agreed to sell its Standard Life brand to insurer Phoenix Group in February.

Phoenix bought Standard Life Aberdeen’s European and UK insurance businesses in 2018.

Despite improved investment flows in the second half of 2020 as vaccines started to be rolled out to combat COVID-19, fee-based revenue fell 13% to 1.43 billion pounds amid outflows of 3.1 billion pounds, largely from clients switching to lower-fee assets and a scheduled withdrawal of assets by Lloyds Banking Group.

Outflows in 2019 were 17.4 billion pounds.

Assets under management and administration fell by 10 billion to 534.6 billion pounds, above a forecast of 528.60 billion but low compared to competitors. Rival Schroders posted a 15% increase in assets to 574.4 billion pounds.

It said it would pay a dividend of 7.3 pence per share.

Bird said the company was aiming to get its cost-income ratio down to 70% by the end of 2023, from its 2020 level of 85%.

“We remain on track to deliver targeted synergies and have identified more that we can deliver,” Bird said in a statement.

“We have exited some non-core businesses and made an acquisition that has extended our capabilities in private markets. We have simplified and clarified leadership structures across the business and placed a refreshed focus on Asia,” he added.

SLA said in January it will close its asset management business in Indonesia by mid-2021.

SLA said growth in Asia, its UK adviser and consumer markets, and its solutions and responsible investing business are its priorities.

Further details on rebranding are expected later in the year, the statement said. $1 = 0.7231 pounds Reporting by Clara Denina; editing by Rachel Armstrong and Jason Neely

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