The Daily Telegraph

Hargreaves Lansdown boss quits after lawsuit over Woodford collapse

Chris Hill to step aside in 2023 as legal action and falling client list takes toll on investment platform

- By Simon Foy

THE chief executive of Hargreaves Lansdown has quit as investors continue to flee Britain’s biggest investment platform and the company faces a multimilli­on-pound lawsuit over its promotion of funds run by Neil Woodford.

Chris Hill, who has led the FTSE 100 company since 2017, said he will step down by November next year. The board said it would be “undertakin­g a thorough and extensive search for his successor” after Mr Hill told them he wanted to retire from the company.

News of his departure comes days after Hargreaves was hit with the lawsuit lodged on behalf of thousands of investors for promoting stock-picker Woodford’s failed equity income fund.

The suit claims Hargreaves continued to push LF Woodford Equity Income Fund (WEIF) until its collapse in 2019. Hargreaves did so despite admitting it was aware of troubles at the fund since 2017, claims-management firm RGL said. Hargreaves denies the allegation­s.

News of Mr Hill’s departure follows a tumultuous 12 months for Hargreaves. Shares in the DIY investment platform plunged by more than 50pc in the past year as the war in Ukraine and the deteriorat­ing economic environmen­t stifled customers’ willingnes­s to invest.

Assets under administra­tion fell to £122.7bn at the end of September, down from £123.8bn at the end of June. This time last year, assets stood at £138bn.

New business is also slowing. Hargreaves said net new client numbers and net new business for its first trading quarter were both down. New business fell to £700m from £1.3bn a year ago.

However, total revenues jumped 15pc thanks to higher interest rates.

Mr Hill said: “The impact of the challengin­g macroecono­mic and geopolitic­al backdrop on asset values, client confidence and propensity to invest has been seen across our industry.

“Although flows into risk-based investment­s remain subdued, both client and asset retention rates remain strong and in line with last year.”

Mr Hill announced a new five-year strategy for the company in February aimed at turning around performanc­e. A key part of the plan is a £175m investment in Hargreaves’ technology, funded in part by cutting dividends.

Chairman Deanna Oppenheime­r, said: “Having started the implementa­tion of the next phase of the company’s growth, Chris has decided it is time to pass the reins to a new chief executive.”

Analysts at JP Morgan said Mr Hill’s will raise questions on whether his replacemen­t will lower Hargreaves Lansdown fees. Shares dropped by more than 3pc in yesterday’s trading.

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