St James's Place  

SJP inflows down 33% amid 'challenging' environment

SJP inflows down 33% amid 'challenging' environment

St James's Place saw its inflows drop by a third this summer amid a "challenging external environment". 

The wealth manager's third quarter figures, published this morning (October 27), showed net inflows had fallen by 33 per cent, from £2.1bn in the same period last year to £1.4bn in September. 

Over the three month period the company saw a 5 per cent jump in funds under management, from £112.82bn in Q3 2019 to a record £118.7bn this year. 

Andrew Croft, chief executive at SJP, said the business had shown "strength and resilience" amid a "challenging external environment", but he neglected to address scathing concerns made public by an activist shareholder yesterday. 

In an open letter to the SJP board activist minority shareholder Primestone Capital had warned of a "bloated organisational structure" at the company as it called for an overhaul of its cost structure to improve investor returns. 

The shareholder, which owns 1.2 per cent of SJP's stock, claimed the company had "failed to deliver value for shareholders" over the past five years and pointed to "excessive" pay and hiring. 

Yesterday SJP confirmed it had received the letter and said it "looked forward to commencing a dialogue" with Primestone, but no further airtime was given to the concerns in today's market update. 

Mr Croft said: "I am encouraged that improved levels of activity towards the end of the quarter have continued into October, with activity for the current month at similar levels to the same month last year.

"Looking ahead, the increased uncertainty linked to Covid-19 will inevitably influence client investment confidence and consequent decision-making."

He added: "We see an increasing demand for sound, highly personal financial planning advice and, through the comprehensive geographic reach and quality of the partnership, we remain extremely well positioned to meet this opportunity and drive further growth over time." 

Earlier this year SJP cut by a third its final dividend for 2019, withholding the difference until the "financial and economic impacts of Covid-19 [became] clearer".

The listed company reduced its final dividend for last year from 31.22p per share to 20 pence per share, with the difference of 11.22 pence per share to be withheld until further notice.

Mr Croft promised the funds withheld from its dividend would be used to financially protect its partner firms if required during the coronavirus crisis. 

rachel.mortimer@ft.com 

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