A high viral load sent stock markets around the world into shock in March. As a result, there was a collective contraction in platform assets of £78bn to £633bn, an 11% drop, although this was considerably better than the ~ 25% fall suffered by stock markets worldwide.
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THERE MAY BE PROBLEMS AHEAD…
By the end of March 2019, stock markets had recovered from the severe whipping they’d received in the last quarter of 2018. All major markets were home to stellar growth, with even the FTSE All Share rising by 8.3% despite Brexit concerns. The upturn pushed UK platform assets up 7.3% to £637bn, a vast improvement on Q418, but only £4bn higher than Q318’s closing balance of £633bn. Hargreaves Lansdown, D2C platform and the UK’s largest distributor, moved into pole position as the UK’s largest investment platform.
For stock market results reasons, we published headline figures only for the PLATORM INDUSTRY in February 2018. Now that all platforms have released their results, we can reveal the leading platforms for 2017.
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Momentum continued to build in the platform industry during the second quarter as pension freedom and ISA business drove investment. Market growth was neutral in the second quarter, but assets under administration rose by £19bn (4%) to £539bn, while gross and net sales again climbed to new highs of £34bn and £14.4bn respectively.
It was a cracking start to the year for the platforms industry with several new highs. Assets under administration rose by £31bn (6%) to £520bn, smashing through the £500bn ceiling, while gross and net sales set new records of £29bn and £13.3bn respectively. This was in marked contrast to the start of 2016 when economic factors and Brexit fears led investors to stay away from investments.
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In a year overshadowed by political uncertainty, it is no surprise that investors sat on the side-lines waiting for the storm clouds to clear. But after three quarters of sluggish activity, sentiment improved and net sales rose to £10.5bn in the fourth quarter, the highest since Q415. However, it was not enough to correct the balance — annual net sales of £38bn were down 16% on the £45bn in 2015 and few platforms were able to improve on their 2015 figures.