Standard Life Aberdeen share price edges higher, co-CEO Martin Gilbert steps down

The UK asset manager saw its share price climb higher on Wednesday morning after CEO Keith Skeoch reassured investors the firm is making ‘strong progress’ despite outflows hurting its profits.

Standard Life (SLA) saw its share price rise by more than 3% on Wednesday morning following its full-year results where co-CEO Martin Gilbert announced his resignation from his position, leaving Keith Skeoch alone at the helm.

Skeoch used the trading update to reassure investors that the firm is making ‘strong progress’ despite it recording more than £40 billion in outflows that hit the company’s profits in 2018.

‘In a tough year of continued change for our industry, we saw further net outflows - equivalent to about 7% of our starting assets,’ Gilbert said.

‘Yet as we have shown by our increased gross inflows, we continue to develop a business that has the scale and breadth to compete globally,’ he added.

Standard Life Aberdeen results: key figures

SLA saw its total adjusted profit before tax slide by 1.5% to £650 million, down from £660 million in 2017, with the asset manager’s total adjusted earnings per share increasing slightly from 17.2p to 17.8p a share in 2018.

The asset manager was able to show it had made significant progress with its £350 million cost-cutting regimw, with the company taking actions that will deliver £175 million in savings, with a further reduction in expenses of £56m achieved in 2018.

Meanwhile, the group revealed that it had struggled to stop net outflows from continuing, with the firm losing £41 billion in assets under management, compared to £33 billion lost over the course of 2017.

Standard Life Aberdeen 2019 outlook

The asset manager remained modest about its performance in 2019, with the company showing resilience to market conditions that remain challenging, with the global economic slowdown and ongoing uncertainty over Brexit negatively impacting investor sentiment.

‘These uncertainties as well as the trends shaping our investment industry are driving investors to look for innovative and outcome orientated 'new active' investment solutions,’ the company said.

SLA said it remains focused on driving operational efficiency and cost control as it moves closer to completing its integration process that started began after Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life agreed to merge two year ago.

‘We are working hard to deliver what is within our control,’ Skeoch said.

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