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How safe is your investment?

Security of client assets and payment of administrator fees

Investment services are required by the regulator to hold capital, so they can cover administration costs if they stop trading. But if the administrator can’t recover fees from company assets, it’s legally allowed to do so from client assets instead.

In this case investors will be able to claim under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which can pay up to £85,000 to each investor.

We hold more capital than we’re required to, and are a financially strong FTSE-listed company with net cash of £516 million (31 December 2023).

The costs of winding up an investment business can be much higher when the assets involved are illiquid (hard to buy and sell), or where there are problems with portfolio administration. We keep detailed records of all investments, and our clients generally hold assets which are easily and quickly bought and sold – like funds and shares.

Key protections for private investors

  • Hargreaves Lansdown Plc is a FTSE-listed company, an index of the biggest listed companies in the UK.
  • We look after more than £100 billion of assets on behalf of our clients.
  • We have grown our business almost entirely organically (not by buying other businesses) by aligning our interests with those of our clients. We focus solely on providing investment services to our clients.
  • We place deals only on behalf of our clients, we do not buy and sell investments for our own benefit. This means our business depends solely on the service we provide you and the performance of your investments, not on the success, or otherwise, of any investment decisions we make on our own behalf.
  • We do not act as a bank.
  • The founders and staff own approximately 26% of the equity and this means that they have a very significant interest in protecting the company and can take a long-term view.
  • The business is managed conservatively, with a long-serving employee base.
  • Our growth has been achieved without borrowing and we have robust internal controls and audit procedures.
  • Money held in Active Savings is not held as Client Money and is treated differently, for more information visit our FAQs.

We are regulated by the FCA

Hargreaves Lansdown is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and is bound by their rules and regulations in the conduct of our investment business. Hargreaves Lansdown Asset Management Limited is authorised by the FCA to hold client money and client assets. Hargreaves Lansdown Fund Managers Limited is authorised by the FCA to manage authorised investment funds (AIFs) and Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (UCITS). You can telephone the FCA Consumer Help Line on 0800 111 6768 (8am-6pm Monday to Friday and 9am-1pm Saturday), to check our registration or ask other queries. Alternatively, you may write to them at the Financial Conduct Authority, 12 Endeavour Square, London E20 1JN or you can visit www.fca.org.uk

The FCA requires firms to publish certain information to enable the market to assess a firm's risks, capital and risk management procedures - known as Pillar 3 disclosure.

We take a very conservative approach to accounting

We make regular submissions of our solvency to the FCA, together with annual audited financial statements, annual audited returns of information and a report from the auditors assessing our compliance with the FCA client money rules. See our annual reports and accounts. These demonstrate that we take a very conservative approach to accounting, and maintain a robust balance sheet retaining more cash than the regulations require.

The majority of our income is generated from platform fees, management fees and stockbroking commissions. These provide a secure source of income spread across a large number of clients and new business takes a long time to translate into profits, so unlike many firms we are not dependent on short-term new business to cover our costs.

Client money is held on Trust

All client money is held by us on trust and is segregated from our own funds in accordance with the FCA’s client money rules and guidance so that any creditors of Hargreaves Lansdown would have no legal right to it and we cannot use any of this money to cover Hargreaves Lansdown's obligations.

Our Treasury Committee is responsible for overseeing the management of client money balances within the FCA’s regulatory framework, including our selection, appointment and ongoing monitoring of third party institutions used to hold client money. The Committee meets at least quarterly with detailed monthly reporting enabling clear and effective oversight of all facets of cash management activities including liquidity, counterparty exposure and performance. The security of the institutions that we use to hold client money is paramount; we monitor their performance and security on a daily basis to ensure that we are able to anticipate and can react to both changes in general economic conditions and any changes that are specific to individual institutions.

Our policy is to only use institutions with a UK banking licence which are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). The FSCS is backed by the government and protects clients’ deposits up to £85,000 in the unlikely event that a bank, building society or credit union defaults. A client’s individual protection will depend on their aggregate balances held by that institution; further information is available on the FSCS website.

Client money held within the HL service and the Portfolio Management Service is deposited across a Treasury Committee-approved panel of institutions with a UK banking licence, excluding the HL Cash ISA which is held solely with Lloyds Bank plc. Client money in the HL SIPP and PMS SIPP is held in separate SIPP client money bank accounts which are segregated from other client money held by us.

Client money is primarily held with the UK clearing banks. The full panel of approved institutions with a UK banking licence, actively holding client money comprises: Bank of Scotland Plc, Barclays Bank Plc, Goldman Sachs International Bank Plc, HSBC Bank Plc, Investec Bank Plc, Lloyds Bank Plc, Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets Plc, Santander UK Plc and the UK regulated branches of Qatar National Bank SAQ, Emirates NBD PJSC and Bank of Montreal.

Stocks protected in nominee accounts with you as beneficial owner

Stock you hold with us is held in the name of or to the order of Hargreaves Lansdown Nominees Limited, or by an approved third party custodian. Hargreaves Lansdown Nominees Limited is a non-trading company so it cannot run up liabilities of its own and Hargreaves Lansdown accepts full liability for any default by our nominee company. We maintain detailed records of all your investments and assets for which you will at all times remain the beneficial owner. We do not lend stock held in our HL or PMS service.

Our senior management and CASS Committee are responsible for periodic reviews of the nominees with which stock is deposited.

It is possible to have some of your assets segregated from other clients’ assets, click here to find out more.

Financial Services Compensation Scheme

Investors are likely to be covered by the provisions of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), if Hargreaves Lansdown ceases trading. It can award up to £85,000 in compensation to any one investor where they decide that an investment business is in default and is unable to satisfy any claims against it. In addition, if one of the banks which we use for depositing cash balances is declared in default, each individual is entitled to 100% of the first £85,000 in total in compensation for losses across all their deposits with that institution. Full details of the FSCS detailing the restrictions and financial limits that apply are available on request from the FSCS. You can contact them on 020 7741 4100 or 0800 678 1100 or at www.fscs.org.uk. You can also write to them at FSCS, 10th Floor, Beaufort House, 15 St Botolph Street, London EC3A 7QU.

All Hargreaves Lansdown Group companies are registered in England and Wales and consequently are governed by the Companies Act, which includes a requirement to have the financial accounts audited each year by independent accountants, we currently use the international firm PwC, which is one of the big four chartered accountants in the world. They also do our regulatory audit.

ISA and SIPP procedures are independently assessed by HM Revenue & Customs

Hargreaves Lansdown Asset Management Limited is also registered with HM Revenue & Customs to enable us to act as an ISA and SIPP manager. Accordingly, our procedures for operating ISA and SIPP Plans are also independently assessed by HM Revenue and Customs.

Unit trusts and OEICs use a trustee or depositary to protect investors

Unit trusts and OEICs use a trustee or depositary to actually hold the title to the underlying stocks they hold in their funds. This means that if the fund manager gets into financial difficulty your assets are protected from their creditors. The time that the FSCS does not protect you is if one of the underlying stocks within a fund manager's portfolio goes bust.

Please contact us if you would like more information on the security of your investments

We want to ensure that everybody who invests with Hargreaves Lansdown is well informed as to the security of the investments they have made and the various protections that are available to them. Accordingly, please feel free to contact us at any time if you would like to discuss this issue in greater detail.

Hargreaves Lansdown Group comprises the following regulated companies: Hargreaves Lansdown Asset Management Ltd, Hargreaves Lansdown Advisory Services Ltd, Hargreaves Lansdown Savings Limited and Hargreaves Lansdown Fund Managers Ltd. 10/2018