SCOTTISH Friendly is continuing to diversify with a move into group life insurance, chief executive Fiona McBain has revealed.

The Glasgow-based mutual, recently named financial services company of the year at the Scottish Business Awards, holds its annual meeting today after a year which saw funds under management rise 10% to £997million and core life and pensions sales jump 135% to £20m.

Growth was driven by soaring sales of the group's innovative low-entry investment Isa retail platform and its wholesale distribution partnerships in life and critical illness insurance.

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Scottish Friendly has followed its deals to provide protection products for the likes of Smart Insurance and with a new onshore investment bond for Royal London's Ascentric platform, and Ms McBain said a further venture close to being unveiled was "another example of our diversification".

The group would provide life insurance for employers and affinity groups, with an as yet unnamed distribution partner, using its own efficiencies and developments in data analysis to drive the most competitive rates, she said.

Ms McBain added: "The whole development we have built around Isas is doing really well for us, that is going from strength to strength."

She said: "The changes in the Budget were a surprise, but they were really aligned with our strategy of what we are already trying to do, making saving more accessible."

Scottish Friendly was the first investment provider to publish new literature and videos reflecting the Budget changes which will take effect on July 1, Ms McBain said. "We did that within a week. It's a good example of how we have been able to generate our success, bringing to bear our efficiencies, speed of response, and investment in technology."

She added: "The Isa changes were positive - it's been a while since the Budget captured so much of the public imagination and that has to be a good thing."