AJ Bell’s assets under administration fall amid turbulent markets

Investment firm AJ Bell revealed that turbulent markets took a toll on assets under administration in its first update since it floated last year.

The company said underlying inflows on its online platform increased 20% to £1.2 billion in the first quarter ended December, while customer numbers grew 4% to 190,498.

However, total inflows declined to £1.1 billion from £1.5 billion as defined benefit pension transfers to AJ Bell’s platform fell, and the company said this downward trend is expected to continue this year.

Negative market movements of £2.7 billion, meanwhile, resulted in assets under administration falling 4% to £44.2 billion. But this was not as low as the 11% decline seen in the benchmark FTSE All-Share index over the same period.

AJ Bell, founded in 1995, provides online investment platforms and stockbroker services to both retail customers and financial advisers.

In an initial public offering (IPO) in December AJ Bell, floating a 27% stake, was valued at £651 million.

Andy Bell, chief executive and founder, said trading in the first quarter was in line with the expectations the group set out ahead of its IPO.

“We continued to attract new customers and inflows to the platform in the face of volatile investment markets, which demonstrates the strength and resilience of our business model as we approach our busiest period of the year.

“Platforms have been one of the main beneficiaries of defined benefit pension transfers. These have declined steadily since their peak seen in financial year 2017 and we expect this decline to continue.”

Mr Bell added: “Despite this and short-term market volatility, the outlook for the platform market remains strong.”