City round-up: AJ Bell; Appreciate Group

Michael Summersgill

AJ Bell, the Manchester-based investment platform, has made a solid start to its current financial year, it said in a trading update this morning.

The quarter one figures showed that, in the Platform business, customer numbers increased by 8,713 in the quarter to close at 434,365, up 13% in the last year and two per cent in the quarter

Total advised customers of 148,636 were up 13% in the last year and two per cent in the quarter, and total D2C customers of 285,729 were up 14% in the last year and two per cent in the quarter

Assets under administration (AUA) closed at £66.3bn, down three per cent over the last year, but up three per cent in the quarter

There were robust gross and net inflows during the quarter against a continued challenging backdrop, with both the advised and D2C channels contributing to the growth in AUA. Gross inflows in the quarter were £1.9bn (2021: £2.7bn), while net inflows were £0.8bn (2021: £1.4bn)

Favourable market movements contributed two per cent to AUA growth in the quarter as global equity markets recovered some of the losses recorded in previous quarters.

AJ Bell Investments achieved a 62% increase in assets under management (AUM) of £3.4bn over the last year and up 21% in the quarter.

There were record net inflows in the quarter of £443m, up 143% versus the comparative period last year (2021: £182m underlying net inflows).

A strong investment performance was achieved, with all of AJ Bell’s multi-asset growth funds delivering top quartile returns versus their Investment Association sector average over the last three years.

Chief executive, Michael Summersgill, said: “I am pleased to announce a solid start to the financial year, with our platform continuing to attract new customers and assets across both the advised and direct-to-consumer markets.

“Whilst high inflation has inevitably squeezed household finances, we delivered £0.8bn of net inflows to the platform during the quarter. This performance demonstrates the value of our dual-channel business model which enables us to capture customer and asset growth from across the whole platform market.

“The tax year end is traditionally our busiest time of year and we are looking forward to helping customers and advisers make the most of the annual ISA and pension allowances before the 5 April deadline. We remain positive about the growth prospects for the investment platform market and are very well positioned to continue growing our market share.”

Rae Maile, an analyst with investment bank Panmure Gordon, said: “AUA was ahead of our estimates at the period end with flows broadly in line with estimates and stronger markets.

“Importantly, the client base continues to grow. The number of advised clients increased by almost as much as in the prior quarter, D2C customers by more.

“This will underpin future growth as savings increase and as more assets are brought on platform. The company remains, as we do, resolutely upbeat on the growth prospects for the investment platform market and on its ability to grow market share within that growing market. BUY.”


Love2shop gift card

Liverpool-based gift and reward vouchers specialist, Appreciate Group, said it has received FCA approval for its agreed £83m takeover by PayPoint.

The two parties announced a deal on November 7, 2022, for a recommended offer involving PayPoint acquiring the entire, and to be issued, share capital of Appreciate Group through a mix of cash and shares.

It is intended that the acquisition will be effected by means of a Court-sanctioned scheme of arrangement between Appreciate Group and relevant Appreciate Group shareholders.

Appreciate Group said today that it notes the announcement by PayPoint that the FCA has given its approval to the acquisition and, as such, the relevant condition has now been satisfied.

The scheme remains conditional on the approval of Scheme Shareholders at the Court Meeting and Appreciate Group Shareholders at the general meeting to be held tomorrow, January 20.

Following the approval of the acquisition from the FCA, Appreciate Group is seeking to schedule the Court Hearing to sanction the Scheme as soon as practicable.

It is expected that the acquisition will become effective on or before March 31, 2023.

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