Mutual insurer Royal London recorded ‘an all-time high’ profit in 2018, despite paying another £28 million for its Ascentric replatforming.

Last year Royal London’s EEV operating profit before tax was £396 million, up 20% on the previous year, its financial statements have shown.

This profit rise was helped by strong individual pension sales, which were up 8% at £6.8 billion, boosted by continued defined benefit transfers.

However, Royal London’s ongoing replatforming project for Ascentric saw further costs last year, with the insurer recording an impairment of £28 million, down from £31 million in 2017, relating to the new Ascentric platform.

Ascentric is being moved in stages to a Bravura-run platform with many IFAs migrated last November.

Although it did not disclose flows for Ascentric, the platform’s assets under administration remained largely flat at £14.5 billion at the end of 2018, suggesting a fall in net flows.

The group’s asset management business, Royal London Asset Management, was more successful last year with it hitting record net flows of £7.7 billion.

This was helped by more IFAs using its Global Multi-Asset Portfolios (Gmap) range. The group is now planning on building new ‘diversified’ funds.

Phil Loney, Royal London’s chief executive, who is to step down later this year, said the results were positive despite facing challenges such as the end of auto-enrolment.

‘In 2018 the end of the auto-enrolment roll-out, turbulent market conditions as a result of ongoing Brexit uncertainty and the continuing low interest rate environment presented challenges to our sector.

‘However, I am pleased to report we saw strong life and pensions new business sales with strong individual pension sales and increases in protection sales from our intermediary businesses both in the UK and Ireland and also our direct-to-consumer business.’