Standard Life's full-year results beat market expectations, after the UK investment giant posted a 9% year-on-year increase in operating profits.

The Edinburgh-headquartered firm said on Friday (24 February) that operating profits in the 12 months to the end of December grew to £723m ($907.3m), beating the forecast for a £684m figure. Meanwhile assets under administration rose 16% year-on-year to £357.1bn, also exceeding expectations calling for a £335.4bn figure.

The company added net outflows for the year stood at £2.6bn and were largely driven by its mature books of business, while gross inflows came in at £27.7bn and fee-based revenue rose 5% year-on-year to £1.65bn and amounted for 95% of total income.

Group chief executive Keith Skeoch said the company was speeding up its plans to create a global insurance business "against a backdrop of volatile investment markets".

Standard Life, which lifted its final dividend by 8% to 19.82p per share, last year increased its stake in Indian insurance firm HDFC Life, which it aims to combine into a large private life insurance business with New Delhi-based insurer Max Life.

"Despite industry headwinds, we are benefiting from our strengthening global brand and strong long-term relationships with a well diversified range of clients and customers," Skeoch said.

"The acquisition of Elevate has strengthened our leading position in the advised platform market while the increase in the stake in HDFC Life and the proposed combination with Max Life will increase our exposure to the attractive and fast growing Indian market."

Standard Life's chief added the company was already seeing the benefits of targeted investments to further its diversification agenda and the sharpened focus on operational efficiency.

"This increased pace of strategic delivery will ensure that we continue to meet changing client and customer needs, and generate growing and sustainable returns for our shareholders," he said.