February 2024

2023 was a second tough year for the direct investment platform market. Headwinds buffeted the market and consumer confidence took a pummelling from news of the Israeli-Hamas war and rampant inflation prolonging the cost-of-living crisis. Despite the wall-to-wall gloom, markets performed strongly in the final quarter, taking total direct market assets to £320bn and giving platforms a welcome boost to revenues. Hargreaves Lansdown, interactive investor and AJ Bell were the fastest growing platforms this year with Hargreaves Lansdown adding the equivalent of the industry’s annual net sales in assets.

We knew the fourth quarter was going to be tough, but not this tough! The platform industry (all platforms) was in net outflow of £8.2m. (Yes, the entire industry was negative thanks to outflows in workplace/institutional platforms). Adviser platforms were positive, but their net flows halved quarter on quarter to £655m, their lowest total on Fundscape records.