AJ Bell  

AJ Bell delays adviser app launch as inflows fall 24%

AJ Bell delays adviser app launch as inflows fall 24%
Picture by Jon Super for The Financial Times

AJ Bell has delayed the launch of its new adviser app 'Touch' by up to a year, having changed the go-live date from the backend of last year to a "phased launch" starting later in 2022.

Once launched, the app will double up as an investment platform, allowing for information to be passed between the IFA and the client, creating audit trails on decisions for portfolios which will form part of their advice process.

A product of AJ Bell's acquisition of Adalpha in March 2021, the new adviser app is being overseen by Fergus Lyons, former managing director of Investcentre.

The app was initially meant to be soft launched amongst a small group of advisers in 2021, before being launched more widely.

But in financial results for the three months ended June 31, 2022, published today (July 21), AJ Bell's outgoing chief executive, Andy Bell, confirmed a new launch date, saying the phased launch of Touch by AJ Bell will be starting later in 2022.

A spokesperson confirmed to FTAdviser this was a new launch date, largely as a result of not wanting to rush the app launch.

Elsewhere, the platform reported a 24 per cent drop in net inflows between April and June across both its advised and direct-to-consumer platforms.

Investors placed £1.6bn with the platform operator over the quarter, half a billion less than they placed with it over the same period a year earlier.

AJ Bell recorded a £200mn year-on-year dip in inflows on the advised side of the business over the quarter, and a larger £300mn dip in inflows on the direct-to-consumer side.

On its adviser platform, assets under management were down 5 per cent at the end of June, falling from £46.5bn to £44.3bn over the quarter. Overall, AJ Bell’s platform assets sat at £63.5bn at the end of June.

Bell put the dips down to “a weakening in investor sentiment over the last six months”.

He said: “The advised market has remained resilient in the face of current market headwinds and the strength of our proposition helped to deliver net inflows of £900mn.”

Advisers’ clients using the platform increased by around 3 per cent, or 4,655, over the quarter. This total now sits at 141,856, up 16 per cent over the past year. 

In February, AJ Bell changed the fee structure across its entire fund range, leading to charges being cut on most of its multi-asset funds.

Bell put new customer increases down to these changes, as well as predicting further increases once the Touch app launches.

He added: "The phased launch of Touch by AJ Bell starting later in 2022 will further expand our offering for advisers, helping them to cater for clients looking for a digital service model."

In April, AJ Bell’s new direct-to-consumer investment app Dodl launched, an execution-only platform which operates alongside Youinvest, AJ Bell's other consumer-facing platform.

The new service was 14 months in the making, from concept to go-live. It is aiming to acquire some 1.72mn customers by 2025 via the app.