Investments 

SJP vows to stick with Woodford

SJP vows to stick with Woodford

Wealth manager St James's Place has denied it has any plans to withdraw the billions of client cash it has managed by embattled fund manager Neil Woodford.

In a statement released this morning, St James's Place stated it has "no plans to change his mandate". The statement came in response to media speculation the firm was putting the fund manager under more scrutiny.

Mr Woodford runs about £3.5bn for SJP clients, across the UK High Income, UK Equity and UK Distribution funds, accounting for about a third of the total assets under management held by Woodford Investment Management.

Mr Woodford’s remit in managing separate funds for SJP clients differs from the way he manages the Woodford Equity Income and Income Focus funds that are available to non-SJP clients.

The funds run for SJP are focused on income, so do not invest in the sorts of early stage companies that the fund manager has in his other funds.

Despite this the funds have sharply underperformed the wider market.

The High Income fund has lost 15 per cent over the past year, compared with a 3 per cent loss for the sector average.

Chris Ralph, chief investment officer at SJP, said: "We remain confident in Neil Woodford and his ability to manage our client’s money as mandated.

"We continue to monitor his investment footprints, as we do with all our investment managers, on a regular basis as usual.

"Neil has delivered exceptional returns over the past 30 years and we continue to support his proven long-term investment philosophy. We have no plans to change his mandate."

The flagship Woodford Equity Income fund has shrunk in size from more than £10bn to under £4bn since the Brexit referendum.

Ryan Hughes, head of active portfolios at AJ Bell, said Mr Woodford’s reputation was built on his ability to understand the performance of the UK economy and how this would impact on stock markets, but that in recent years the manager has moved away from this approach and put more energy into smaller company investing.

He said the Woodford Income Focus fund is the product that most closely mirrors the funds run by Mr Woodford in the past.

Woodford Investment Management declined to comment.

david.thorpe@ft.com