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AJ Bell continues to grow market share

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AJ Bell PLC (LON:AJB), the investment platform operator, said the first half of its financial year saw record levels of new customers, inflows and dealing activity.

Revenue in the six months to the end of March was up 21% to £73.9mln from £60.9mln a year earlier.

Profit before tax climbed 39% to £31.6mln from £22.7mlm the year before.

The number of retail customers on the platform grew by a record 51,492 in the half-year period to 346,797, while the customer retention rate remained at 94.8%.

Total net inflows of £3.1bn were £1bn higher than in the same period 12 months earlier, driven by platform net inflows of £3.3bn (2019/20: £2.5bn).

Assets under administration were up 35% year-on-year at US$65.2bn, while assets under management (AUM) were 180% higher at £1.1bn.

The interim dividend has been whacked up to 2.46p from 1.5p at the interim stage of last year.

The group admitted it expects to see “some normalisation of trading activity” but said there is a growing awareness of the importance of investing for the future.

“The average age of our new direct-to-consumer customers was 38 in the first half of the year, five years younger than the average of the wider customer base. Average portfolio values remained high at £79,000. Our record number of new customers has been helped by the low-interest-rate environment, as savers seek higher returns on cash held in savings accounts and Cash ISAs,” said Andy Bell, the chief executive of AJ Bell.

READ Boom in number of younger customers continues, says AJ Bell

“Our advised platform proposition remains very popular with advisers, who appreciate the wider adoption of digital processes to support their remote working and the highly competitive charging structure. The recent acquisition of Adalpha will accelerate the development of a new mobile-focused platform to enhance our advised proposition and enable advisers to service a wider range of clients.

“Our investment business has performed extremely well, supporting both our advised and direct-to-consumer platform propositions, with total AUM increasing by 75% in the first half of the year. The recent additions of the AJ Bell Responsible Growth fund and Responsible Managed Portfolio service to our suite of investment solutions have proved very popular with customers and advisers,” Bell revealed.

Shares in AJ Bell were down 0.2% at 435.2p in the first half-hour of trading.

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