Hargreaves hit by industry levy and regulations

Madeline Ratcliffe
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HARGREAVES Lansdown yesterday announced profits before tax were down five per cent to £199.1m.

This despite a record £55.2bn-worth of assets under administration – investments managed by the company for the clients – enjoyed an 18 per cent increase in the year to 30 June 2015.

Chairman Michael Evans cited the “unforeseen” increase in the Financial Services Compensation Scheme levy contributing to far higher operating costs for the company.

The levy, which Evans described as “nothing more than a tax on well run businesses” was £4.4m, an increase of 450 per cent from £800,000 in 2014.

The company also pointed to the Retail Distribution Review, changes in the regulations concerning client money, which was “to the detriment of both our clients and our shareholders,” as well as reduced charges for clients which it estimates reduced the year’s revenue by £20m.

Chief executive Ian Gorham found reason for optimism in the Treasury’s pensions reforms, saying the new freedoms had boosted the profile of pensions and “have put pensions back on the public’s radar and helped us to a further 13 per cent growth in clients and 18 per cent in assets during the year.”

Revenues were also up from £358m in 2014 to £395m, and dividends were up three percent at 33p per share.

Investors certainly chose to focus on the good news and positive forecasts for 2016, shares closed up seven per cent to 1,193p.