AJ Bell drops KPMG auditors for BDO

FTSE 250 investment manager AJ Bell appoints BDO as its new auditor for 2020, replacing KPMG after 10 years

AJ Bell, the listed investment manager, has announced that BDO will become its new auditor from the financial year ending 30 September 2020. The move follows a competitive tender - KPMG, the company’s auditor since 2009, did not take part in the tender process, but will complete the audit for the 2019 year end.

AJ Bell, which competes with investment managers such as Hargreaves Lansdown and St James’s Place, floated on the London Stock exchange in December 2018. Its latest annual report for year end 30 September 2018 revealed that KPMG had been paid £119,000 in audit fees, with an extra £81,000 in audit-related fees and £611,000 in non-audit services, mostly related to corporate finance work in the run up to the flotation. The audit fees were up 51% on the 2017 figures.

The annual report gave no indication that the audit was to be put out to tender, though KPMG had been the auditor since 2009.

The appointment will be good news for BDO, which recently won the audits for car parts retailer Halfords and property company Galliford Try, replacing KPMG and PwC respectively. It also shows how some FTSE 350 companies are now prepared to look at non-Big Four firms as their auditor at a time of heavy scrutiny of the FTSE 350 audit market.

Report by Philip Smith

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