(Alliance News) - AJ Bell PLC on Thursday reported a drop in assets under management over the first half but saw profit surge on a record number of client additions.
In the six months to March 31, the FTSE 250-listed investment platform recorded pretax profit of GBP22.7 million, up 28% from the GBP17.7 million reported in the same period the year before.
Revenue was up 22% year on year in the first half to GBP60.9 million from GBP50.1 million.
AJ Bell ended the first half with 262,179 customers, a 13% jump on the beginning of the half and 22% higher than at the same point a year before.
"This is a strong financial performance at a time when the country faces one of its most significant challenges in decades. Our focus has been to keep our people safe while continuing to provide the vital services our customers need during times of market volatility and being here to service their needs," Chief Executive Andy Bell said.
He continued: "This unwavering attention on our customers' needs has helped us deliver strong organic growth in revenue and profitability. Our customer numbers increased by a record 30,113 during the period, and we saw net inflows of GBP2.5 billion to our core platform offering."
As a result, AJ Bell was able to maintain its interim dividend at 1.50 pence each.
"The board recognises the importance that our investors place on AJ Bell's progressive dividend history and reaffirms our ongoing commitment to this and our stated dividend policy for future dividend distributions," Bell added.
Despite the profit and revenue growth, AJ Bell's total assets under administration fell by 8% over the first half, ending the period at GBP48.3 billion compared to GBP52.3 billion at September 30.
AJ Bell blamed the "adverse market" for the drop in assets under administration. Total net inflows were GBP2.1 billion, with the firm's investment platform seeing GBP2.5 billion in net inflows, but this was wiped off by GBP6.1 billion in negative market movements.
Bell added: "The effects of the Covid-19 crisis are likely to be felt for a long time, although the precise impact it will have on markets, investor sentiment and economic policy is hard to predict. However, we have operated profitably during periods of market volatility and low interest rates before and our business model has proved very resilient.
"The long-term growth drivers of the platform market remain in place and our strong capital position, coupled with a buoyant trading performance mean the outlook for the future of the business remains positive."
Shares in AJ Bell were up 2.6% in London on Thursday morning at 459.52 pence each.
By Paul McGowan; email@example.com
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