AJ Bell’s nears 400,000 customers as DIY investors continue to arrive despite lockdown trading boom tailing off
- About 15,300 more customers joined AJ Bell between October and December
- AJ Bell reported its total assets under administration jumping by 21% to £75.6bn
- The firm hopes to attract more clients when it launches Touch and Dodl this year
Financial services group AJ Bell has continued to benefit from the boom in retail investing as it revealed its customer numbers surged to within touching distance of 400,000.
About 15,300 new clients joined the online investment platform between October and December, taking its total customer base to 398,066, with the majority joining its direct-to-consumer platform.
This was despite the period seeing the UK Government impose much less strict coronavirus restrictions, which had helped drive up demand for retail trading apps – especially amongst younger and first-time investors – over the last two years.
Customer support: About 15,300 new clients joined online investment platform AJ Bell between October and December, taking its total customer base to 398,066
It also reported total assets under administration jumping by over a fifth to £75.6billion in the last three months of 2021 compared to the equivalent time in 2020, while gross inflows soared by 23 per cent to £2.7billion.
However, net inflows declined by £1.4billion as a result of a bulk annuity purchase that led to a one-off outflow of £241million from its investment management and advised platforms.
The Greater Manchester-based company said the continued expansion in new trade ‘evidences the resilience’ of its business model across disparate market circumstances.
It hopes to attract more customers this year when it launches its new adviser platform Touch and trading app Dodl, which will offer several commission-free investments and is aimed at younger investors.
This latter platform will provide stocks, shares and ISAs as well as ‘themed investments’ focused on particular sectors, such as technology, robotics and healthcare.
Patrons will only have to pay an annual charge of 0.15 per cent on each of their investment accounts and not incur any fees when they buy or sell investments.
New money: Younger and first-time investors have joined retail trading apps such as AJ Bell, Hargreaves Lansdown and Freetrade in huge numbers since the Covid-19 pandemic started
To begin with, though, investors will be limited to putting their money behind 50 UK shares and 30 funds, including AJ Bell’s low-cost multi-asset funds and its Responsible Growth fund, with some US shares joining the platform soon afterwards.
AJ Bell has said Dodl intends to ‘make investing more straightforward and accessible for retail investors’ and hopes to have it up and running sometime during the first half of 2022.
But the move comes amidst increasing competition between rival DIY investment firms like Freetrade, Hargreaves Lansdown and Interactive Investor, who have all seen a pandemic-induced boom in demand for their services.
Founder and chief executive Andy Bell said: We have had a solid start to our new financial year with customer numbers, gross inflows and assets under administration all growing steadily.
‘We continue to see strong demand for our easy to use, low-cost platform across both the advised and direct-to-consumer markets.’
He added: ‘Our trusted brand and easy to use platform propositions, supported by our increasingly popular investment solutions, ensure that we are well-positioned to deliver further growth in both the advised and D2C markets, and we approach the traditionally busy tax year-end period with optimism.’
Shares in FTSE 250-listed AJ Bell ended trading 0.5 per cent higher at 348.4p on Thursday; however, their value has fallen by 14.6 per cent in the past six months.