SJP rejects concern over conflict of interest

SJP’s chief executive said the firm had no such conflicts as all client money was managed by independent fund managers with the company’s restricted label referring to its pension, unit trust and other wrappers.

He said: “We are not concerned about the FCA probe as we don’t have in-house funds. We appoint blue-chip managers from all over the world to manage our money so there are no conflicts of interest.”

In March, the FCA published its business plan for the coming year revealing that it planned to review conflicts of interest at firms that recommend in-house funds, and would target vertically integrated firms.

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Mr Bellamy also defended the network’s charges, saying they were “competitive” for medium- and long-term investors as the firm was “not looking” to attract investors looking to place money for two or three years.

His comments came as SJP reported a strong first quarter in an interim market statement, revealing consistent retention of clients’ funds under management at 95 per cent, and a net inflow of funds under management of £1.2bn, up 26 per cent from Q1 2013 when it saw £0.9bn.

Total funds under management reached £45.8bn, up 17 per cent from £39.0bn over 12 months and 3.4 per cent since the beginning of the year.

Mr Bellamy added that the company is on track to see £8bn of new client money in 2014 after reporting inflows of £1.8bn in the first quarter of 2014, up 22 per cent from £1.5bn in Q1 2013.

Any additional growth in client assets under management would then be “in the lap of the gods”, driven by stock market performance over the remainder of the year, he said.

Last year the firm saw around £7bn of new client money, with strong stock market performance over the year boosting its AUM by £9.5bn over the year.

In early April St James’s Place revealed it had withdrawn client funds from Invesco Perpetual, switching £3.5bn from three funds to Neil Woodford’s new firm Oakley Capital, which launches in May.

Analyst views

Marcus Barnard, insurance analyst for Oriel Securities, said: “We retain our buy recommendation. Q1 shows a solid beat on all measures with figures towards the upper end of the consensus range. This is particularly impressive given strong prior year comparatives and some volatility in equity markets.”

Andrew Sinclair, research analyst for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said: “The mix continued to shift towards investment products, unit trusts and Isas. We see this as good news as we believe that investment and unit trust products have higher margins than pension products.”