Hargreaves Landsdown takes £2.3m hit over Woodford fund collapse

Investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown has waived fees of £2.3 million over the Neil Woodford scandal after the fund was suspended last year.

Bosses at Hargreaves agreed to not charge fees to customers who had invested in the Woodford funds, which had been heavily promoted via the platform.

They also announced an overhaul of its Wealth 50 list of recommendations, after the former star stock picker’s fund was listed until it was frozen last June.

Woodford Equity Income Fund frozen
Woodford Equity Income Fund frozen

As a result of waiving its fees – which Mr Woodford declined to do – Hargreaves saw net new business hit £2.31 billion in the six months to December 31 – down 9% on the same period last year.

This was short of analysts’ estimates of £3 billion, suggesting any post-election bounce was minimal.

Despite the slowdown in new business, total revenues rose 9% to £257.9 million in the period, with pre-tax profits also up 12% to £171.1 million.

The company said: “The external market was challenging in the second half of 2019, with political uncertainty, a General Election in the UK, Brexit and world trade tariffs all raising concerns.

“As we have seen in previous unpredictable periods, client confidence and retail investment flows were affected.

“The Investment Association reported weak retail fund flows throughout and the suspension of the two Woodford funds also contributed to the general unease.”

On changing its Wealth 50 lists – which are aimed at amateur investors keen for impartial advice on services – Hargreaves said it would place a “greater focus on transparency of process”, including helping customers follow a “more independent path” to finding products.

Administrators for Woodford’s biggest fund, the Equity Income Fund, have been winding it up since October, attempting to sell off some of the assets which had been tied up in numerous unlisted companies.

Earlier this week, investors were finally given access to their money again – but only 75% of it so far.

The impact has shaken armchair investors who have been struggling with record low interest rates and taking on riskier investments.

M&G suspended withdrawals from its property portfolio fund, and Blackmore Bonds – another property investor – has failed to pay out interest to investors for the second quarter in a row.