AJ Bell sales up, reaches 500,000 customers

Salford-based investment platform AJ Bell said on Thursday it reached half a million customers for the first time, as it reported higher sales for the latest six-month period and upped its dividend. 

Its shares jumped as much as 12% to £4.05 on the London Stock Exchange. 

AJ Bell, whose platform allows people to manage their own pensions and investments, said revenue rose 27% to £131.3 million and profit before tax rose 47% to £61.4 million for the six months ended March 31. It announced an interim dividend of 4.25p per share, up from 3.50p last year. 

The company, which has offices in Manchester, London and Bristol, added 27,000 customers to its platform in the six-month period, to reach a total of 503,000 at the end of March.

Customer assets under administration on its platform rose 13% to a record £80.3 billion, driven by net inflows of £2.9 billion and favourable market movements of £6.5 billion, as global stock indexes trended higher. 

Its assets under management rose 23% to £5.8 billion, with net inflows of £800 million, slightly down from £900 million in the same period last year.

AJ Bell reduced some custody and dealing fees and increased interest rates on cash balances on April 1. As a result, it said that revenue and pre-tax profit margins will “moderate” in the second half of its financial year, but it still expects margins to be higher than it had anticipated in December.

AJ Bell CEO Michael Summersgill said: “Our significant scale and strong profitability has enabled us to continue investing in several areas to support our long-term growth ambitions. We are in the second year of our multi-channel brand campaign and are now reaping some of the benefits of this investment, with our brand awareness showing a meaningful improvement over the course of the last year.”

Looking forward, AJ Bell said broader conditions boded well for growth: “The macroeconomic environment improved during the period, with UK inflation levels falling and global asset values increasing. These trends, alongside the anticipated future reductions to the Bank of England’s base rate, are likely to increase the appetite for investing. The strength of our diversified revenue model means we can deliver sustainable revenue growth in different macroeconomic conditions.”

Separately, it was announced that AJ Bell founder Andy Bell intends to sell 7.5 million ordinary shares of the firm.