Investment firm reports strong first quarter inflows

Andy Bell

AJ Bell, the Manchester investment platform, reported significant inflows for the first quarter of the year, to December 31, 2020, today.

Total assets under administration (AUA) increased to £62.5bn, up 14% over the past 12 months and 11% in the quarter, but total net inflows during the three months of £1.6bn were double the level reported in the first quarter of the previous year.

Total customer numbers during the quarter rose to 312,309, a 30% increaee over the past 12 months, and six per cent in the quarter.

The company’s platform business saw continued strong growth in customer numbers, net inflows and AUA.

Platform customer numbers grew organically by 16,959 in the quarter, an increase of 88% compared with the first quarter of the prior year.

Total platform customers closed at 298,053, up 31% over the past year and six per cent in the quarter.

Advised customers of 112,308 was up 12% over the past year and three per cent in the quarter, and D2C (direct to customer) of 185,745 were up 46% over the past year and eight per cent in the quarter

Platform net inflows, representing organic growth in the quarter, increased by 67% over the prior year to £1.5bn.

Advised net inflows of £0.8bn was up 33% on the prior year, and D2C net inflows of £0.7bn was up 133% on the prior year.

Platform AUA closed at £55.2bn, up 17% over the past year and 11% in the quarter.

Reporting for the first time, AJ Bell Investments’ assets under management was £1.0bn as at December 31, 2020, an increase of 100% over the past 12 months.

Net inflows of AUM (assets under management) in the quarter were £147m, up 91% compared with the first quarter of the prior year.

Chief executive, Andy Bell, said: “We have had a strong start to our financial year as customer numbers, net inflows, AUA and AUM all showed significant growth in the quarter.

“Increased awareness and trust in our brand continued to attract new advisers and customers to our easy-to-use, competitively priced platform.

“In the advised market the addition of the Retirement Investment Account to our existing product range ensures we are highly competitive on service and price across all client scenarios and portfolio sizes, which has helped drive strong net inflows of £0.8bn.

“In the D2C market we continued to see increased demand for our easy-to-use, low-cost investment platform, enabling our customers to control and manage their investments and long-term savings.”

He added: “We are also making good progress with our investment business and are pleased to report that assets under management broke through the £1bn milestone in the quarter, doubling the value of assets managed compared to a year earlier.

“Our low-cost, multi-asset funds are proving to be popular in both the advised and D2C markets and our managed portfolio service is one of the best value offerings in the advised market, with an annual management charge of 0.15% following the recent removal of VAT from our charges.

“There is an ever-increasing demand for ESG investment solutions and the recent launch of the AJ Bell Responsible Growth fund, our first product in this space, was our most successful fund launch yet. We will be building on this success with the launch of a Responsible Managed Portfolio Service for advisers in the coming months.”

He said: “Our market leading platform propositions and investment solutions position us well to benefit from the need for people to take control of their long-term financial affairs and we approach the traditionally busy tax year end period with confidence.”