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Standard Life banks on online investment to drive growth

Insurer says web drive is delivering results

Standard Life has said technology supporting its growing online presence is a "key enabler" in its bid to launch financialproducts faster, increase their scale and profitability.

The pensions and insurance company reported a 44 percent leap in half-year profits to £262 million, as it cut costs globally and saw strong revenues in its Canadian operations.

The company said that products such as Lifelens, an online benefits and financial planning portal, had "been designed to be scalable by making greater use of online technologies" and increasing self-service.

It added that Adviserzone, its portal for financial advisers, had seen usage double.

The company outsourced its software development in recent years, a move that it said was helping to "reduce the risk of delivery" of future systems while lowering costs. Improvements in processes were also "lowering unit costs", it said.

Last December, Standard Life acquired Focus Solutions, an IT supplier, for £42 million. The company sells technology aimed at automating the delivery of financial products and services across multiple distribution channels, including online.

Standard Life said it had completed the combination of Focus Solutions' technology with its own Wrap platform, covering point of sale systems, customer relationship management, tax wrapper technology and investment trading.

Last week, it also announced that it had deployed a web content management system from Autonomy to help improve the maintenance of its customer facing website and its main corporate extranet, a move motivated by regulatory changes demanding clearer customer communications.

As the company announced its profit growth, chief executive David Nish told investors: "Today's results demonstrate the real progress we are making in our transformation."

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