AJ Bell assets under administration rise to record £76bn

AJ Bell, the Salford investment platform giant, has announced record assets under administration (AUA) of £76.2 billion, up 15% in the last year and 7% in the quarter.

In a trading update for the three months ended December 2023, AJ Bell said customer numbers increased by 8,000 to close at 484,000, up 12% in the last year and 2% in the quarter.

Total advised customers rose to 161,000, up 8% in the last year and 1% in the quarter, while total D2C (direct-to-consumer) customers rose to 323,000, up 13% in the last year and 2% in the quarter.

Gross inflows in the quarter were £2.7 billion (2023: £1.9 billion) while net inflows in the quarter were £1.3 billion (2023: £0.8 billion).

At the AJ Bell Investments business, assets under management (AUM) were £5.2 billion, up 53% in the last year and 11% in the quarter, with net inflows in the quarter of £0.4 billion, in line with the prior year.

AJ Bell CEO Michael Summersgill said: “I am delighted to report an excellent start to the financial year, with first quarter net inflows across the platform being higher than in any individual quarter of FY23.

“Together with favourable market movements, platform assets under administration increased by 7% to reach a record £76.2 billion.

“Some of the macroeconomic headwinds experienced throughout 2023 showed signs of improving in the quarter, driving global equity markets higher and easing some of the pressure on household finances.

“Platform net inflows of £1.3 billion in the quarter were up 63% on the £0.8 billion reported in the prior year, reflecting increased confidence among retail investors compared to a year ago.

“AJ Bell Investments continues to perform strongly with AUM up 11% in the quarter through a combination of strong net inflows and positive market movements, surpassing £5 billion for the first time.

“The consistently strong growth of our investment business illustrates the attractiveness of our low-cost, simple products.

“As we look ahead, our platform will continue to appeal to both current and potential customers and advisers. We continue to invest in enhancing our propositions, with a strong focus on ease of use, whilst also investing in our pricing to ensure we continue to deliver great value to customers.

“Following the FCA‘s recent clarification of its expectations concerning interest paid on cash balances held on investment platforms, we announced changes to the interest rates paid on cash balances whilst also lowering a number of our charges.

“These changes will benefit our customers to the tune of £14 million a year, reflecting our longstanding philosophy of sharing our economies of scale as we grow – an approach that is very much aligned with the Consumer Duty.

“Our dual-channel model has proven its resilience during a period of high inflation over the last 18 months, delivering consistent customer growth and net inflows.

“Whilst this strong start to the year provides good momentum as we head into the busy tax year end period, we remain focused on the long-term growth opportunity that exists in the platform market and the investments that we are making into our propositions and pricing will further strengthen our long-term competitive position.”