SJP stops Axa running £4.6bn mandate

SJP stops Axa running £4.6bn mandate

Wealth management behemoth St James’s Place (SJP) has dropped Axa Investment Managers (Axa IM) as manager of its £4.6bn Balanced Managed mandate.

The mandate was managed by Axa IM's veteran investor Richard Peirson, before he retired in March 2017. It was placed under review by St James’s Place at that time and has since been managed by Mark Beveridge.

The £777m SJP Balanced Managed fund, which forms part of the mandate, has struggled for performance in recent times, returning 7 per cent in the 12 months to 29 January, compared with 9 per cent for the average fund in the IA Mixed Investment 40-85 per cent shares sector in the same time period, according to FE Analytics.

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Axa IM has been replaced by investment houses GMO and Jennison, who will jointly run the mandate.

Chris Ralph, chief investment officer at SJP, said: “The appointment of GMO and Jennison Associates blends two complementary investment styles and provides greater flexibility to allocate across asset classes over a market cycle."

GMO will manage a value-oriented, asset allocation strategy – exclusive to St. James’s Place investors – and will be responsible for 80 per cent of the fund’s assets. Ben Inker, the lead manager, has been with the firm since 1992 and has extensive experience in managing asset allocation and quantitative equity strategies.

Mark Baribeau of Jennison Associates will be responsible for a relatively concentrated portfolio of global equities, representing the remaining 20 per cent of the fund.  Adopting a traditional growth investing approach, his portfolio will target companies that are at an inflection point in their earnings and sales growth.

“These appointments reflect our continued commitment to selecting the best fund managers from across the globe and are a tangible demonstration of the benefits of our investment management approach," Mr Ralph added.

A spokesperson for Axa IM said: “Naturally we are disappointed, however we are proud of what we have achieved in our long standing relationship with SJP and they remain a key client for Axa IM.  

"We have run the Balanced Managed strategy for SJP clients for over 11 years and in that time we have delivered 152.5 per cent return since inception versus the sector average of 77 per cent.”