AJ Bell adds customers but assets fall 12% to £48bn

AJ Bell CEO Andy Bell

Shares of Manchester-based investment platform AJ Bell rose 17% on Thursday after it published a trading update for the three months to March 31, 2020, showing its customer numbers increased to 262,179, up 22% in the last 12 months and 9% in the quarter.

Total net inflows rose 30% on the prior year to £1.3 billion.

However, total assets under administration (AUA) increased by just 1% over the last year, closing at £48.3 billion, and fell by 12% in the quarter “due to adverse market and other movements.”

The FTSE All-share index was down 26% over the same period.

AJ Bell shares rose about 17% to 350p to give the Manchester firm a current stock market value of around £1.3 billion.

AJ Bell CEO Andy Bell said: “This quarter was without doubt one of the most dramatic we’ve witnessed.

“We had to move quickly to keep our people safe from COVID-19 and comply with the Government lockdown.

“I’m pleased that we were able to do that effectively whilst remaining open for business as usual during a very busy tax year end period.

“I’d like to thank our staff for the flexibility and dedication they have shown to ensure our customers have been able to access and manage their investments as usual during the lockdown.

“This resilience is reflected in our new business figures which are very strong compared to last year.

“Our platform delivered encouraging organic growth in both customers and net inflows as we continued to support advisers and customers throughout this unprecedented situation.

“The COVID-19 crisis continues to have a devastating impact on people’s lives and the economic outlook remains uncertain.

“We have confirmed that we are not furloughing any staff or claiming benefits from any of the Government’s financial support schemes which should be preserved for those companies that need them most.

“We have also launched the AJ Bell Wage War on COVID Fund under the umbrella of the AJ Bell Trust, a UK registered charity, which will benefit charities and causes supporting the COVID-19 efforts.

“In addition to a £50,000 donation from the AJ Bell Trust, I will be donating my April, May and June wages into the fund and other board directors, senior management and staff have made similar pledges.”