LONDON -- The shares of Standard Life (LSE:SL) advanced 6% to 373 pence during early London trade this morning after the group's investment division revealed assets under management had grown 7% to a record 179 billion pounds during the first quarter.

Group assets under administration also advanced 7% to reach 233 billion pounds, underpinned by the new system of 'automatic enrolment' for U.K. pension schemes, which helped boost sales of long-term savings products by 24% to 6.3 billion pounds.

Standard Life said it had continued to see growth within its Canadian division, where the company "remains well placed in the growing pension market." Sales of corporate pensions in the region grew an impressive 94%.

David Nish, Standard Life's chief executive, said:

Standard Life has made a strong start to 2013, growing sales, net flows and assets. Standard Life Investments reinforced its position as a leading asset manager, delivering a very strong first quarter. This included reaching a record level of third party assets, which now represent over 50% of total AUM, a more diversified asset mix and increased geographic reach.

Our UK business had a good start to the year, and while the industry continues to see disruption as a result of the introduction of RDR, we have made a smooth transition to operating under the new regulatory environment with encouraging early indicators from both our corporate and retail customers and their advisors.

We remain confident that our business is well positioned for further strong and sustainable growth.

Following today's update, Standard Life trades at around 15 times this year's expected earnings and offers a prospective dividend yield of 4.1%.

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