Hargreaves Lansdown boss turns down bonus over Woodford fiasco

The boss of Hargreaves Lansdown (HL) will not take a bonus this year due to the ongoing saga at Neil Woodford’s investment vehicle, the company has said.

HL had heavily promoted the Woodford Equity Income Fund through its services, which are aimed at non-professional investors and savers, right up until Mr Woodford blocked investors from withdrawing their money.

Chris Hill, chief executive of HL, said: “Until investors are able to access their money held with Woodford Equity Income, I will not be taking a bonus.”

Chris Hill, CEO of Hargreaves Lansdown
Chris Hill, CEO of Hargreaves Lansdown

The Woodford fund has blocked investors from withdrawing their cash since earlier this month, after millions of pounds had previously been taken out following a run of poor results.

Due to many of the investments being made into unlisted companies, selling the shares to repay the cash has proved difficult.

Mr Woodford has said he will no longer invest in unlisted businesses and is shifting his clients’ cash into stock market shares that are easier to sell in the future.

A date for when customers can withdraw their money has not yet been announced.

But HL has been caught up in the problems, due to the heavy promotion and commission received from Mr Woodford’s business.

The Treasury Select Committee has written to HL, asking a series of questions about the links between the company and Mr Woodford.

HL has also waived all fees it charges customers who invested in the Woodford fund – and has urged Mr Woodford to follow suit, which the former star investment manager has declined.

Mr Hill has previously said: “I would like to apologise personally to all clients who have been impacted by the recent problems with the Woodford Equity Income Fund.

“We all share their disappointment and frustration. Our priority right now is to support our clients and keep them informed.

“Our aim remains to provide the best possible service and choices to allow people to manage their investments simply and effectively.

“The shortcomings of one fund should not detract from the benefits of favourite fund lists like the Wealth 50.

“We are confident in the robustness of how we analyse, research and compile our favourite fund list with a focus on ensuring best value for clients; nonetheless, we are reviewing this specific situation to ensure we learn from it and address it for the benefit of our clients going forward.”