Founder of Hargreaves Lansdown calls for huge cost cuts at investment company

Peter Hargreaves

The high-profile founder of one Bristol’s best-known companies has launched a scathing attack on the current board.

Billionaire Peter Hargreaves co-founded investment group Hargreaves Lansdown with his then business partner Stephen Lansdown from a Clifton bedroom in 1981.

The FTSE 100 company is now one of the city’s biggest employers and is the UK’s largest direct to investor investment platform.

It administers an estimated £91.6bn worth of investments for more than a 1.5m clients.

Hargreaves Lansdown

However, Hargreaves has been a long-standing critic of the board and the direction the company is being taken.

In an interview with the Financial Times this weekend, Hargreaves who is still the largest shareholder in the business, criticised the current strategy and called for major cuts to be made.

The 76-year-old pointed out the business has one of the worst performing share prices in the FTSE 100.

At their highest value in May 2019 shares were worth £24, at close of play on Friday they were trading at £8.70.

Speaking to the Financial Times Hargreaves said: “The board indulged in completely unnecessary irrelevant programmes, which have distracted the firm from its prime objective. It’s hardly surprising the shares have collapsed.”

He has been particularly critical of the of the strategy which has seen the introduction of automated financial guidance alongside help from advisers.

And the former boss of the company has called for a huge round of cost cutting to put the business back on track. He has criticised the pay being taken home by the board and added that businesses is currently employing “at least 1,000 people that they don’t need”.

Hargreaves has criticised chair Deanna Oppenheimer in previous interviews and is no fan of the strategy adopted by chief executive Chris Hill.

Hill is due to step down in November and will be replaced by Dan Olley – who has been on the board for more than three years.

In a past interview he branded Hill completely and utterly useless and called for Oppenheimer to step down.

According to its annual report Oppenheimer was paid £334,500 in 2021.

Hargreaves, who is known for his outspoken approach, said: “There are too many boards who sit pretty on ridiculously high salaries of which they are not worthy.

“That is prevailing in the big companies in Britain. There are very few boards that seem to be worth the big bucks paid out to them.”

According to its annual report Oppenheimer was paid £334,500 in 2021.

Hargreaves Lansdown has yet to comment on the criticism.

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