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Online Stock Broker Hargreaves Lansdown Boosted by April Investment Rush

written by Bella Palmer

The share price of Hargreaves Lansdown, the UK’s market leading online investment platform and stock broker has gained over 3.2% today. That takes the total upswing since Tuesday to more than 6% after investors were encouraged by news that more than £3 billion was added to account holder assets in the rush leading up to the end of the tax year on April 5th.

The company’s share price of 1981 pence looks likely, barring a late drop towards the end of today’s trading session, to set a new all-time high. That will be the case if it can hold above the 1900 level set on January 26th this year. A 2017 FCA report put Hargreaves Lansdown’s total non-advised assets under account market at £65 billion, putting the company well ahead of Barclays Stockbrokers, its nearest competitor at the time, with a £15 billion under account. Despite the recent acquisition of TD Direct Investing by Interactive Investor, HL remains the industry’s dominant force.

Assets under account at Hargreaves Lansdown have now reached £88.8 billion and the reported £3 billion growth reported was a significant improvement on analyst forecasts for £2.2 billion. The company attracted an impressive 60,000 new account holders over the course of the tax year and revenues rose 16% to £367 million. The only blemish in the results was a £600 million drop in the market value of client funds, something more a result of market conditions than company performance.

Hargreaves Lansdown offers Brits investing online with a financial supermarket service including stock broking, a funds supermarket and tax-efficient wrappers such as ISAs and SIPPs. The company’s success is particularly notable against the backdrop of the relatively high fixed account management fees it charges. Several of its closest competitors, such as The Share Centre, AJ Bell and Interactive Investors offer lower prices and several no-frills, low budget competitors have recently entered the market. The arrival of giant US fund supermarket Vanguard on the UK market was also thought to pose a threat to HL but so far does not appear to have impacted the business.

UK investors appear willing to pay slightly more for the smooth online experience, strong customer support and added value resources such as research, analysis and market data that Hargreaves Lansdown has built into its investment platform. The company was founded in 1981 by two accountants, Peter Hargreaves and Steve Lansdown. It became a pioneer among the UK’s stock broking companies by embracing the internet age and has made the most of the ‘early bird’ advantage secured by quickly moving online. After a 2007 IPO, the company is now a solid member of the FTSE 100, the biggest 100 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange by market capitalisation. Still based in Bristol, where the first office was opened over 35 years ago, Hargreaves Lansdown now employs more than 1000 staff.


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