Pensions provider Bell rings up 18% profits hike

PRIVATELY-owned North West pensions firm AJ Bell has posted record profits and revenue figures.

After a year of heavy investment in new products and platforms, the Old Trafford-based group said profits and turnover  for the year to the end of September had both surged 18% – to £19 and £41.6m respectively.

Chairman Jim Martin and chief executive Andy Bell said they were delighted with the figures, which were achieved despite a turbulent economic and financial backdrop.

Assets under administration and client numbers grew too. AUA rose 9% to £15bn despite weak investment markets – the FTSE 100 fell by 8% in the period.

AJ Bell administers self-invested personal pensions, SIPPs, and has added individual savings accounts and share-dealing accounts to its products in its first moves into the wider retail savings and investments market.

The company employs around 400 people at its base on Chester Road.

Mr Martin and Bell said: “These results have been delivered during a
transformational period for the Group, when we have made significant strides
in achieving our strategic objectives.

“We successfully launched our Sippcentre and Sippdeal platforms, this involving the extension of our product range to include an ISA and a dealing account.

The company said its retail client numbers surged during the year, by 24% from 48,306 to 59,912.  The majority of the increase came from the SIPPs market, while ISAs and share dealing also began to make a contribution.

Looking ahead to 2012 the company said there were a number of new regulatory issues on the horizon, including the tax relief changes, lifetime allowances, and the Government’s Retail Distribution Review.

“Embracing change is key to achieving success in our industry, where
legislative and regulatory change is the norm… We believe we are
as ready as any firm to deal with the changes and see them as an
opportunity, not a threat,” the directors added.