End of an era as AJ Bell founder misses first ever AGM

Fans of Andy Bell’s down-to-earth style will be disappointed when AJ Bell founder misses investment platform’s annual meeting for first time

Founder: Andy Bell

Fans of Andy Bell’s down-to-earth style will be disappointed this week when the AJ Bell founder misses the investment platform’s annual meeting for the first time.

His absence follows a row with regulators that saw him blocked from taking a new board role, but he will act as a £150,000 a year consultant. 

Bell stepped down last year as chief executive of the £1.4 billion fund supermarket business he started from scratch in 1995.

The Financial Conduct Authority raised concerns he might still call the shots if he remained. 

The ruling prompted City grandee Helena Morrissey to quit as chairwoman after just nine months. She had wanted Bell to stay as her part-time deputy.

Bell, 56, retains a 23 per cent stake worth more than £300 million. His decision to stay away from the meeting highlights the challenges that founders face when they step back from the helm. 

One analyst said Morrissey’s climbdown over Bell had been ’embarrassing’ and his consultancy role left some unanswered questions.

It will see him work with the business for two days a week on advertising, brand and lobbying work. But the analyst said: ‘It’s difficult to tell how engaged he will be in six months’ time.’

He retains the right to nominate a director to represent his interests, but this has been put on hold until a new chair is in post. He was succeeded as chief executive by Michael Summersgill, who was previously finance chief.