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.
It’s been a tough year for fund groups and platforms alike with Brexit and other worries cooling the markets. Initially, platforms were cushioned from the worst by ongoing DB transfer business, but by the second half of the year that business was also drying up. Year-on-year asset growth was a meagre 4%, while gross and net sales have plummeted. The economics are relatively unchanged, but investors have been spooked by Brexit and US-China trade wars.
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After significant falls in Q1, stock markets began to level out at the end of March... just in time for the last two weeks of the ISA season. By the close of Q218, the UK stock market had recovered most of its lost ground, with the FTSE 100 and FTSE All Share rebounding by 8% and performing better than most major stock markets in Q2.