Belfast Telegraph

Hargreaves Lansdown boss to step down after group posts 10% rise in profits

The boss of financial services group Hargreaves Lansdown has announced plans to step down after seven years at the helm as the firm posted a 10% hike in annual profits.

Chief executive Ian Gorham will leave by the end of September next year, with group financial officer Chris Hill set to take on the post.

Mr Hill will become deputy chief executive from next month.

Mr Gorham will have clocked up more than seven years in charge of the group by the time he hands over the reins, having taken over from the group's founder, Peter Hargreaves, in 2010.

He said it was the "correct time for natural succession" and added he was confident the group would go from "strength to strength".

Paul McGinnis, an analyst at Shore Capital Markets, praised Mr Gorham for an "outstanding job" at the group and said he would be a "tough act to follow".

Details of the change at the top came as the firm unveiled a solid set of figures, with pre-tax profits rising 10% to £218.9 million in the year to June 30.

Hargreaves - which runs the popular Vantage investment platform - said it notched up a record £61.7 billion in assets under administration, while it attracted another 100,000 clients, taking its total to an all-time high of 836,000.

Its performance came despite a "considerably depressed stock market" over the year, which it said had been masked by a post-Brexit vote rally.

The group said profit growth would have been even higher were it not for disappointing stock market trading, with the FTSE All Share Index on average 5.1% lower over the year, and "subdued" investor confidence.

Investor jitters led to a "challenging" season for equity individual savings accounts - described by some in the industry as the worst on record, according to Hargreaves.

It saw ISA new business tumble 15% on a net basis to £2.2 billion, with overall new business down 2% to £6 billion.

But it revealed the referendum drove record levels of trading, with 63,000 trades on the day after the vote alone.

The group added: "Whilst in the short term volatility and uncertainty may continue, as more clarity develops on the execution path for leaving the EU we hope 2016/2017 may see better markets."

It flagged up a hit from lower interest rates though, warning that its interest income is set to come under pressure from rate cuts.