Manchester-based investment platform AJ Bell has appointed a head of innovation to spearhead initiatives that use technology to improve its service to customers and drive further growth in the business.

Andrew Teale, who is based at AJ Bell’s headquarters at Salford Quays, will lead a new innovation group whose members include chief executive Andy Bell and digital strategy director Tim Huckle.

The group will draw on experts from various areas of the business for individual projects, including customer services, product marketing and technical services.

It will also work with FinTech firms based across the North West to share and develop ideas.

Andy Bell said: “Innovation has always sat at the core of the business, right back to when we launched the UK’s first online SIPP in 2000.

“Given the rapid pace of change in the FinTech world, we feel now is the right time to create a specialist innovation group to further enhance the services we provide to our customers.

“People’s lives are becoming increasingly busy and they are used to keeping on top of things while they are on the move.

“We want to explore ways in which we can sensibly use technology to make it as easy as possible for them to manage their investments and save for the things they love doing.”

The formal creation of the group follows a series of company initiatives designed to help customers engage and interact with their investments as easily as possible.

These include enabling clients to request portfolio valuations and stock market quotes via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

They can also now get portfolio valuations via Apple Watch and can view AJ Bell’s investment videos via Apple TV.

The latest launch is the AJ Bell Google Chrome extension, which enables customers to keep track of their investments with a single click directly from their web browser taskbar.

During 2018 the innovation group will be exploring a range of initiatives, including ones based on Blockchain and Open Banking technology.