Customers flock to AJ Bell in first year as a public company

Investment platform AJ Bell, whose shares have become a favourite with investors in a turbulent time for rival Hargreaves Lansdown, has boosted the number of customers it attracted in its first year since going public.

The investor said it had brought in 17% more customers, increasing the total to 232,066, with assets under administration reaching £52.3 billion, a 13% rise.

This was ahead of what James Hamilton, an analyst at Numis, had expected. The broker predicted assets would hit £51.2 billion.

A strong set of results will be eyed by competitors at Hargreaves Lansdown who have been battling with serious challenges.

The platform was heavily criticised when investor Neil Woodford’s flagship fund suspended withdrawals earlier this year. The fund’s administrator last week said it was shutting it down and selling off assets.

Hargreaves is facing potential legal action over claims it should have removed Woodford’s funds from its favourites lists. Hargreaves’ shares have lost more than a fifth of their value since the Woodford fund was suspended.

AJ Bell, which listed its shares in London last December, has since seen them rise by more than 70%.

“Our first full year trading update since the (listing) demonstrates the resilience of our business model. During periods of unsettled markets and political uncertainty customers have a greater need for established, trustworthy businesses,” said chief executive Andy Bell.

The firm was especially buoyed by its direct-to-customer products which grew assets under administration by 28% to £11.1 billion.

Nik Lysiuk, an analyst at Finncap, said AJ Bell was “an almost £2 billion company that is destined for continued growth”.