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Hargreaves Lansdown, the UK’s leading retail investment management group, said it was getting increased calls from clients concerned about the potential impact of Scottish independence on their personal finances in the run-up to the referendum.
The listed investment manager reported record full-year pre-tax profits on Wednesday on the back of increased investor interest in stock market flotations. Total assets under management swelled by nearly a third in the past year to £47bn, driven by a 28 per cent increase in client numbers, which now stand at a record 652,000.
Despite the increases, the investment group’s net operating margin remained steady at 71.3 per cent, and some analysts believe this could come under pressure as competition from rivals intensifies amid the Financial Conduct Authority’s clampdown on fees.
With less than three weeks to go until Scotland goes to the polls, the company reported that the publicity surrounding the independence debate was generating an increasing volume of calls.
“Most clients who have contacted us have simply been looking for reassurance that nothing catastrophic will occur in the immediate aftermath of a Yes vote,” said Tom McPhail, head of pensions research at Hargreaves.
About 8 per cent of the investment manager’s UK customers are based in Scotland, but many more hold investments with Scottish financial companies such as Standard Life.
In the 12 months to June 30, pre-tax profits rose 7 per cent to £209.8m on revenues that increased 8 per cent to £291.9m.
The full-year dividend, comprising a second interim payout and a special dividend, totalled 25p per share, a 7 per cent rise.