AJ Bell assets top £54bn amid pandemic trading boom

Salford-based investment platform AJ Bell said on Thursday its total assets under administration (AUA) increased to £54.3 billion in the three months ended June 30, 2020, up 7% over the last 12 months and 12% in the quarter.

The rise in assets came as the number of trades placed by AJ Bell’s D2C (direct-to-consumer) customers in the quarter more than doubled compared to the same quarter of 2019.

“Although trading volumes have now fallen from the peak levels seen earlier in the COVID-19 crisis, the number of trades placed by D2C customers in the quarter more than doubled compared to the same quarter in 2019, exceeding management’s expectations,” said AJ Bell.

“As a result, management currently expects profit before tax for the year ending 30 September 2020 to be at least £2.5 million above current market consensus.”

In a third-quarter trading update, AJ Bell said its total customer numbers increased to 282,619, up 26% over the last 12 months and 8% in the quarter, with total net inflows in the quarter of £1.2 billion.

AJ Bell also said it is preparing to move into the £1.5 trillion retail cash savings market with the launch of the AJ Bell Cash savings hub via its D2C platform. 

AJ Bell CEO Andy Bell said: “Markets have rebounded from the lows seen in the previous quarter but remain volatile and this has helped increase the value of assets under administration and customer trading volumes.

“Our focus throughout the COVID-19 crisis has been on ensuring we are here for customers and advisers when they need us and this has translated into strong net inflows onto the platform and continued strong organic growth in new customers.

“With interest rates so low, it is increasingly important that people regularly check the rates they are earning on their cash savings and consider switching accounts if they want to ensure they get a better return, but most people don’t have the time or inclination to do that.

“Our new AJ Bell Cash savings hub will enable customers to manage their cash savings more effectively without having to go through lengthy, paper-based application processes each time they open a new account, whilst ensuring they benefit from FSCS protection.

“The quality and commitment of our staff has enabled us to operate all services on a business as usual basis throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

“This operational resilience demonstrates the strength of our business model which has been appreciated by many customers and advisers.

“The long-term growth drivers of the platform market remain undiminished and we are well positioned within the market to benefit.”