Insider - December 2019

Fergus Lyons

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Apparently, there’s a General Election in the offing. The result could have a profound impact for us all but, until we know the outcome, we’re focusing on the things we can control – like making our platform as easy to use as possible for you and your clients. In this edition of Insider, you’ll see several concrete examples of that work in action.

Final results for the year ended 30 September 2019

You may have picked up in the press that we have just released our latest financial results, which provide a strong endorsement of the business model and growth strategy that we outlined in the run up to our IPO a year ago. Revenue was up 17% to £104.9 million, assets under administration increased 13% to £52.3 billion and the resulting profit before tax rose 33% to £37.7 million.

Many thanks to all of the advisers who continue to support us and believe in the things that we do at AJ Bell. With a number of big new developments on the horizon, as outlined in this communication, I remain confident that we will continue to build momentum in what is an exciting time for the business.

AJ Bell Investival

On 14 November, we held the seventh annual AJ Bell Investival. It certainly doesn’t seem that long ago since we hosted our first music-themed investment conference back in 2013, and I’m amazed to think how much the event has grown every year since then – this time over 420 people attended! A big ‘thank you’ to those who joined us. The photos below give you a good feel for what was delivered on the day.

Investival A J Bell-2019

Anyone who attended this year will have seen that we had a full house once again. With this in mind, we are opening registration for AJ Bell Investival 2020. If you provide us with a few details, we’ll secure your seat. I hope to see you next year.

Retirement Investment Account

Back in 1995, AJ Bell started out as an actuarial consultancy, and we introduced our first SIPP and SSAS soon after. In other words, pensions have been our bread and butter since day one, so it’s exciting to announce that our offering in this key area of the business will widen in 2020 to include a new option, called the Retirement Investment Account (or ‘RIA’).

As with our current SIPP, the new product gives you access to a comprehensive choice of investments via our Funds & Shares Service, and it also offers all the same AJ Bell functionality and cash management tools and benefit options that you’re used to.

Our panel of investment partners and off-panel investments, including commercial property, are not available under the RIA but remain available under our full SIPP. Crucially, this allows us to offer the RIA at an all-in charge of just 0.25% p.a. for pension portfolios up to £500,000, and at 0.20% p.a. for those valued at an amount over that figure. For clarity, the all-in charge means there is no additional cost for transfers-in, account set-up, account administration, online dealing or benefits payments.

We think this new pension option will help our platform appeal to an even wider proportion of your clients, and it seems the learned men and women of the lang cat agree with us. You can read their detailed assessment of the RIA here.

Keep an eye out for the formal launch announcement in January. In the meantime, if you would like a member of the Business Development Team to contact you to explain how the RIA may fit for particular clients, you can email us at to arrange a follow-up call or meeting.

Discretionary Fund Managers on platform

Another move that will provide even greater investment choice for you and your clients is the addition of a select group of Discretionary Fund Managers (DFMs) to our platform early next year. Initially there will be five of them available, but we may add more over time depending on demand.

Our new portal will allow the DFMs to input and manage their portfolios online, and you will be able to log in and place clients into the models of your choice.

We will reveal full details early in the New Year but if you’d like more info in the meantime, please just give our Business Development Team a call.

AJ Bell Investcentre V2.0

Straight-through transfers for existing clients are now live in V2.0. By selecting the individual client from the client list, the ‘Transfer in’ option will be available to choose from the action menu. Transfers that can go through Origo will be automatically requested without the need for a transfer form. If the transfer cannot go through Origo, a pre-populated transfer form will be generated.

The functionality of the V2.0 website will be expanding again in January with the introduction of a corporate actions dashboard. This dashboard provides details of all open corporate actions across your Funds & Shares Service clients, including details of the client accounts that hold the related investment. The corporate actions dashboard also allows you to provide instructions on elective actions.

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact your Business Development Manager.

New iOS client app

Our new iOS client mobile app is now available for your clients to download from the Apple store.  Once they do, they will get to enjoy a new interface and navigation based on Google’s and Apple’s recommendations for user-experience best practice. As well as creating a more intuitive and easy-to-use layout, this also helps us achieve a consistent visual experience on iOS mobile devices. Other improvements include:

  • facial recognition at login;
  • the ability for a client to access any linked accounts for other family members under their own login;
  • access to cash statements and transaction histories; and
  • a new dedicated menu option for XO customers that gives them easier access to the dealing function.

The new app also gives you the option to add your firm’s logo and primary colour – so you can now apply your firm’s branding to the mobile app, as well as to desktop client pages and any reports generated in V2.0 of the website.

New AJ Bell Investcentre appNew AJ Bell Investcentre appNew AJ Bell Investcentre app

The Android app is currently in development. If any of your clients would be interested in testing it, please email and let us know. We will get in touch when the app is available to test.

Essential reading – FinalytiQ platform profitability guide

The team at FinalytiQ have been complimentary about AJ Bell in their latest ‘Adviser platform report’, giving us a financial performance rating of ‘Excellent’. You can now download the report free of charge.

In case you did not see the previous Insider, we have worked with former FCA supervisor Rory Percival to produce a guide to platform switching, with the aim of demystifying the regulator’s requirements in terms of driving transferability between platforms.

Simply titled ‘Platform Switching: A Guide’, it looks in detail at the FCA’s rules and guidance, and provides many good-practice examples of how firms achieve bulk platform switching in a reasonably efficient way from a regulatory perspective.

I would urge you to have a read of both; I am sure you will find them extremely useful.

AJ Bell Connect

AJ Bell Connect is heading back up North for Christmas! Admittedly, Leeds and Manchester aren’t quite Lapland, but hey – North’s North.  

The seminar is aimed specifically at paraplanners and adviser support staff, and will take place on the same day – Thursday 12 December – in both cities.

Each session qualifies for 1 hour and 30 minutes of CPD, after which there will be time to network with peers while enjoying a mulled wine, a bite to eat and maybe even a few festive tunes.

For further information on the sessions, please visit here.

Ho-ho-ho-pening hours

As this is the last Insider before Christmas, I thought I’d let you know that our opening hours during the festive period will be as follows:

24 December    9am – 1pm
25 December    CLOSED
26 December    CLOSED
27 December    9am – 5pm
30 December    9am – 5pm
31 December    9am – 1pm
1 January          CLOSED
2 January          9am – 5pm

While I’m on the subject of peace and goodwill… I’m very proud to say that our staff have provided much needed support to a number of charities in the lead-up to Christmas this year. This includes working with Cash for Kids to pack present deliveries for thousands of local children living in poverty; helping the Wood Street Mission by donating toys, treats and warm clothes for their Christmas Appeal; and raising funds for homeless charity the Booth Centre by taking part in a sponsored sleepout on the streets of Manchester. Well done to all involved!

It just remains for me to thank you for your support during 2019 and to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Managing Director

Fergus worked at a major bank for over 20 years before joining AJ Bell in August 2000. Since then he has worked in many areas of the business, and is currently Managing Director of AJ Bell Investcentre. Fergus is also responsible for AJ Bell Investments and our Platinum SSAS/SIPP products.