St James's Place  

SJP defends charging structure to clients

SJP defends charging structure to clients

St James's Place has defended its charging structure after a year at the receiving-end of media and industry scrutiny.

In a quarterly newsletter sent to clients on November 29 the advice giant addressed "several articles in The Times this year" which had cast doubt over charges and culture within the business. 

The letter was distributed by a local partnership under the SJP brand and responded to the criticism by quoting a research note compiled by stockbroker Numis in June. 

SJP stated: "The interesting point from our part is not in fact the position that we appear to be a company worth investing in, but the comment that: 'We find that St. James's Place customer charges at c.2 per cent p.a. all-inclusive and annualised are comparable on a like-for-like bases to typical IFA and associated provider costs, also at c.2 per cent'." 

The advice firm added: "Considering we believe more in what value we provide for our charge we appreciate sometimes we may not focus on a physical cost, so this point is worth highlighting simply because on cost alone we are largely comparable to anyone else you may have chosen to work with. 

"As we are focused on value, we believe that what we provide to clients is excellent value, research supports our belief by discussing value rater than cost alone."

An SJP spokesperson said: "This is a quarterly newsletter from an SJP partner practice that covers a variety of topics for its clients.

"As part of this, the practice wanted to highlight the independent research carried out by Numis showing SJP’s competitive charges in comparison to the marketplace.

"This newsletter is bespoke to the partner practice and is not a central mailing to all SJP clients."

Charges at SJP have been hotly debated this year, with newly-launched rival Schroders Personal Wealth directly comparing its own fee structure to the costs earlier this year. 

In September the joint advice venture between fund manager Schroders and Lloyds Banking Group revealed its proposed fee structure would be less than half the cost of SJP, sparking predictions of a price-war between the two firms. 

But SJP branded the figures inaccurate and a “wholly misleading” misrepresentation of its charges and industry commentators labelled the so-called price-war "irrelevant" to the wider advice market, maintaining good financial advice was accessible at lower prices.

The FTSE 100 advice firm also hit the headlines this year with reports of large incentives for its advisers and sales people alongside hefty advice and exit fees.

rachel.mortimer@ft.com 

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