Hargreaves Lansdown’s chief executive will quit after six years leading the UK’s largest investment platform, as the company seeks to deliver on ambitious plans for tech-fuelled growth.
Chris Hill, who has steered the FTSE 100 group since 2017, on Monday said he would step down by November next year, giving the board time to find a replacement.
The move comes after Hill in February outlined a five-year strategy to invest £175mn in upgrading the investment platform’s systems and building a tech-led financial advice service, funded in part by cutting dividends. Shares fell on the day of the announcement and are down 45 per cent over the past 12 months.
“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 to continue to execute on this strategy,” said Deanna Oppenheimer, chair.
Shares dipped 4 per cent in early trading after the announcement.
News of the departure comes at a challenging time for Hargreaves, which has more than 1.7mn customers. After enjoying a record influx of new money as savers hoarded cash in the Covid-19 pandemic, turbulence in financial markets this year has weighed on people’s willingness to invest.
Julian Roberts, analyst at Jefferies, said Hill had set up daunting growth targets, which his successor would now have to deliver. “He’s come up with a strategy that I think is pretty tough to execute,” Roberts recently told the Financial Times. “They have to get everything right just to hit the targets . . . I think that’s a big ask.”
The company also faces a £100mn lawsuit filed this week over its promotion of Neil Woodford’s fund prior to the star stockpicker’s collapse in 2019, claims the group has rejected.
Hargreaves Lansdown drew £700mn in net inflows in the third quarter, down by nearly half from last year, with the majority of new money directed to the group’s cash savings platform rather than investments.
However, revenues increased 15 per cent to £163mn, more than analysts had forecast, as the platform benefited from higher interest rates on clients’ cash balances.
“The impact of the challenging macroeconomic and geopolitical backdrop on asset values, client confidence and propensity to invest has been seen across our industry,” Hill said in a quarterly results statement on Monday.
Assets under administration dipped to £122.7bn, as market falls outweighed the cash inflow. Market ructions in September, as investors grappled with rising interest rates and the UK’s disastrous “mini” Budget, knocked £1.8bn from the company’s AUA, reversing gains earlier in the quarter.
An accountant by training, Hill, who joined as chief financial officer in 2016, led the company through a period of growth, with assets and customer numbers more than doubling in his tenure.
Hill has pressed for Hargreaves Lansdown to follow companies such as Spotify and Netflix in using its vast trove of customer data to produce personalised suggestions and insights for customers.
His departure marks the second significant leadership change in the past year. Amy Stirling, the chief financial officer, took her job in February after the previous finance chief announced his departure last summer. Six of the company’s nine top executives started their jobs since 2021.