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AJ Bell assets leap to £50 billion after it reaps float benefits

Michael Bow
AFP via Getty Images

Funds platform AJ Bell said a brand boost from its soaraway stock-market listing helped lure more customers to the platform last year.

The profile of the firm, which has seen its shares rise 77% since it floated in December 2018, was lifted significantly by the public listing and inclusion on the FTSE 250, building more “trust” with punters which now number over 230,000.

“Trust is the main reason (people pick investment platforms) and for customers who don’t really know the market, then being listed is as a close a proxy for trust as there is,” said founder and chief executive Andy Bell. “The additional brand awareness of being a listed business has certainly helped.”

The platform has done much to boost its brand, including sponsoring the stadium of Gallagher Premiership and Heineken Cup rugby team Sale Sharks, featuring South African World Cup winner Faf de Klerk.

AJ Bell goes up against larger arch-rival Hargreaves Lansdown, listed on the elite FTSE 100 index, and has also stolen a march due to its cheaper pricing.

“The price advantage we’ve got is important to people,” said Bell, who set up the firm up in 1995.

Assets under administration rose 13% during the year ending September to £52.3 billion, helping revenues climb 17% to £105 million.

The company will pay a 4.83p dividend this year, up by a third on last time.

Bell, who owns 24% of the firm, will get about £5 million.

The firm also unveiled plans to give more money to charity through the AJ Bell Trust, which distributes cash to good causes.

A new share option plan will give £10 million to the trust if AJ Bell ups its earnings per share by at least 100% over three years and 150% over five years.

Shore Capital analysts called the results “robust” and said: “AJ Bell operates an impressive business model.”