View comments Shares in Standard Life were one of the top performers on the FTSE 100 index today

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View comments Shares in Standard Life were one of the top performers on the FTSE 100 index today, rising 3 per cent after its profit soared and it revealed a bigger than expected final dividend. The insurance firm and asset manager also issued an upbeat outlook for the year as 2014 operating profit rose 19 per cent to £604million, off-setting a hit to its annuity sales business. The profit figure beat City forecasts and Standard Life also rewarded shareholders with a dividend hike of 7.8 per cent to make a total payout of 17.03p for the year, also topping estimates of 16.89p. Sales of annuities, which give pensioners an income for life, have been affected by the change and Standard Life now forecasts contribution from annuity new business to fall this year by between £10million and £15million. Standard Life’s chief executive David Nish, said: ‘In terms of our annuity sales, there has been a significant reduction, a direct result of the changes announced in the budget.’ But he remained upbeat for the wider business and said: ‘Although investment markets are unsettled and may affect the near-term pace of asset and revenue growth, we are very well placed for the future. ‘We have the products, experience and proven investment performance to help our customers and clients.’ Nish took home £5.5million in pay and perks for the year. Alongside the full year results, the chief executive also offered his opinion on the UK in Europe debate, saying: ‘We do believe strongly in single markets because that gives the opportunity for confidence around longer term savings to take place.

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