St James's PlaceJan 20 2020

Why SJP will not review its charges

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Why SJP will not review its charges

St James’s Place has “no plans” to review or shake up its charging structure despite its newest board member saying its fees were not transparent or clear.

A spokesperson from the national advice firm told FTAdviser there was no ongoing review — or plans to hold one — into the fees charged to consumers, claiming the firm was “very transparent” about the fees clients paid on the investments and advice they received.

The spokesperson added: “All charges that an investment may incur are explained to clients by their SJP adviser prior to investing and at multiple other junctures, and are set out clearly in a written personalised illustration.”

The comments come after SJP’s latest addition to the board, non-executive director Helena Morrissey, told the Daily Telegraph she did not believe the fund charges were transparent because she was unable to “explain them very quickly”.

She said she was unable to explain the firm’s charging structure and had not met anybody who could completely, clearly articulate how the fees worked.

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

In September last year 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.

SJP later defended its charging structure to clients in a newsletter in November, quoting a research note compiled by stockbroker Numis in June that found its customer charges to be “comparable on a like-for-like basis to typical IFA and associated provider costs”.

The FTSE 100 advice firm also hit the headlines this year with reports of large incentives for its advisers and sales people, which allegedly included cruises and expensive cufflinks as bonuses for selling SJP funds.

Dame Helena told the Daily Telegraph the incentives for advisers had made SJP look “really bad” and the firm has since launched an ongoing consultation into partner incentives and recognition.

Following a year at the receiving end of such media and industry scrutiny, the firm last week appointed a new brand agency, Landor, to work alongside SJP to support its “strategic brand thinking” and development.

It is part of an ongoing project to improve SJP’s reputation as a “recognised and respected” financial advice business.

Dame Helena was appointed to the SJP board as a non-executive director in November last year. The move brought the representation of women on the board to one in three members.

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