* Pretax profit in 6 mths to end-Dec. 146.9 mln stg
* Client numbers up 61,000 year on year
* Interim dividend up 17 pct to 10.1 pence/share (Adds detail from statement, CEO quote, background, bullet points)
By Simon Jessop
LONDON, Feb 6 (Reuters) - British fund supermarket Hargreaves Lansdown on Tuesday posted a 12 percent rise in first-half pretax profit, boosted by a rise in client numbers and total assets.
Hargreaves, which offers a range of financial services to mainly retail clients, said pretax profit at the end of December was 146.9 million pounds ($205.34 million), up from 131 million pounds a year earlier.
The performance was driven by a 9 percent rise in assets to 86.1 billion pounds over the period, helped by rising markets, business wins from rivals and a total increase in client numbers of 61,000, Hargreaves said in a statement.
Net new business over the period was 3.3 billion pounds.
The company has benefited from changes to Britain’s savings and pensions rules over recent years, which have given retirees more freedom about where to invest their money and let them save more tax-free.
“There is a significant market growth opportunity as a result of the long term savings gap and increasing requirement for individuals to have greater involvement in their savings and investments,” Hargreaves said.
The rise in profit helped underpin a 17 percent increase in the company’s interim dividend to 10.1 pence a share. Hargreaves said it expected to maintain a sustainable and progressive dividend going forward.
$1 = 0.7154 pounds Reporting by Simon Jessop, editing by Maiya Keidan