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Platform sales fall 43 per cent in a year

Platform sales fall 43 per cent in a year

Sales across both the advised and retail platform industry fell by 43 per cent in the year to the end of March 2019, according to data compiled by Fundscape.

Net new sales in the first quarter of this year totalled £7.8bn, which is the lowest quarterly level since 2013, which was the first quarter after the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) rules came into force.

The positive market movements of the first three months of 2019 mean overall asset growth in the quarter was 7.3 per cent, with the total assets now held in the industry at £637bn. But total assets were only £4bn higher than at the end of the third quarter of 2018.

Bella Caridade-Ferreira, chief executive of Fundscape, said: "Stock markets soared in the first quarter taking platform assets with them, but the uplift in assets was undermined by the industry’s lowest net sales since we were struggling with RDR in the first quarter of 2013.

"Uncertainty is the key factor. Brexit was supposed to be done by now and investors are waiting for the outlook to clear before opting back into the market."

She added: "Advisers played a role in the slowdown too. They had to get to grips with new Mifid II reporting as well as pound-and-pence charges for clients. This would have been hard at the best of times, but the negative backdrop has made it particularly difficult."

Hargreaves Lansdown became the largest platform by assets during the quarter, with total estimated platform assets of £94bn at the end of the quarter, an increase of 9.9 per cent.

Hargreaves Lansdown had an estimated £2.1bn net sales in the first quarter of 2019 to top the charts, with Aegon’s Arc platform attracting £1.1bn of net assets.

Aegon Cofunds was the second largest platform by assets, with £90.2bn. It had gross sales of £5.6bn, more than any other platform, but did not feature among the top five in net sales.

Transact and AJ Bell both featured among the top five in net platform sales in the first three months of the year, with AJ Bell attracting net inflows of £1bn, and Transact £926m.

Ms Caridade-Ferreira said the new business attracted by those firms was not a surprise as they both floated on the stock exchange in 2018, the publicity they attracted may have helped inflows.

david.thorpe@ft.com

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