AJ Bell confirms IPO plans as profits surge

AJ Bell has today confirmed long-held plans to float on the London Stock Exchange as it reports a 31 per cent increase in pre-tax profit and a 16 per cent rise in assets under administration for the 12 months to 30 September 2018.

The overall business – which is known for both its advised and non-advised platform but now also offers its own funds – recorded AUA of £46.1bn, up from £39.8bn for the financial year ended 2017, and has made a £28.4m profit before tax.

The Manchester-headquartered firm confirmed its intention to float last March but laid down formalised plans today.

Full details of the IPO offer are expected by 27 November.

The platform will offer an exclusive retail share sale to its current adviser users and customers, as well as an offering for institutional investors.

AJ Bell chief executive Andy Bell says: “A listing offers us further reputational and commercial benefits that will support our growth plans. We have a history of profitability, cash generation and dividends and this is once again demonstrated in our latest full-year results.”

Strong results were driven by the platform business, with platform AUA increasing 25 per cent to £38.6bn in the last financial year. Platform customer numbers also increased 30 per cent to just above 183,000.

New platform inflows were up from £5.5bn in 2016/17 to reach £5.9bn.

Bell says: “We are a business of scale operating in a fast-growing market; the purpose at the heart of our business is to make it easy for people to invest. We do this by delivering innovative, low-cost and transparent investment products.”

DB transfers drive new business as AJ Bell reports growth

The platform business also vindicated its technology, saying it continues to invest “significantly” after analysts earlier this year urged it not to follow fellow platforms into system upgrade disaster.

AJ Bell says: “Our platform technology is consistently improving to support the planned growth of the business and provide a reliable, easy to use service for clients. We continue to invest significantly in technology to ensure the platform remains secure, flexible and scalable.

“The business took the decision some time ago to re-platform and the stability of its digital architecture and its ability to introduce innovative new services represents a material advantage compared to a number of other platforms that have undergone upgrades of their technology or re-platforming in recent years.”

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