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Hargreaves Lansdown boss apologises to clients in Woodford fund

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The boss of Hargreaves Lansdown has apologised to customers who have money locked in Neil Woodford’s suspended fund.

Chris Hill, chief executive, said he shared customers’ “disappointment and frustration” after trading in the fund was halted last week after an increase in demand from investors wanting to withdraw their money.

He said: “I would like to apologise personally to all clients who have been impacted by the recent problems with the Woodford Equity Income Fund. We all share their disappointment and frustration.

“Our priority right now is to support our clients and keep them informed.”

Hargreaves Lansdown, the UK’s largest fund platform, has faced backlash for promoting the fund through its ‘Wealth 50’ list of recommended funds.

But Hill said he stands by the company’s research.

“The shortcomings of one fund should not detract from the benefits of favourite fund lists like the Wealth 50,” he said.

“We are confident in the robustness of how we analyse, research and compile our favourite fund list with a focus on ensuring best value for clients – nonetheless, we are reviewing this specific situation to ensure we learn from it and address it for the benefit of our clients going forward.”

In the wake of Woodford’s announcement, Hargreaves Lansdown removed both Woodford Equity Income and Woodford Income Focus from its Wealth 50 list and said it was waiving its platform fee on the fund while dealing is suspended.

A torrid week for Woodford

Hargreaves Lansdown’s apology tops off a torrid week for Woodford Investment Management.

Last Monday, the firm announced that trading in the Woodford Equity Income Fund would be suspended until further notice.

In a video message, Woodford said he was “extremely sorry” the firm had taken the decision to suspend trading, but was keen to stress that it was intended to protect the interests of investors.

The fund’s suspension resulted in Woodford’s eponymous fund firm losing a £3.5bn mandate with financial advice group St James’s Place, as well as a £330m fund that was previously run on behalf of financial advice network Openwork.

It also prompted calls from Bank of England governor Mark Carney for tougher rules for open-ended funds, while the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said it may open an investigation.

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