St James’s Place up as investors gain confidence

INVESTMENT manager St James’s Place yesterday reported a substantial hike in fourth-quarter sales, as wealthy customers regained confidence in the economy.

“Investor sentiment is up,” chief executive David Bellamy told City A.M. “People are settling down and adjusting to the new normal – interest rates will stay low. They’ve got to get on with their lives.”

“We seem to be winning some significant businesses from some of the more traditional wealth managers and banks who have, frankly, lost it with some of their clients,” Bellamy added.

New business hit £223.8m in the last three months of 2012, up 46 per cent on the same period last year.

St James’s Place sells investment products via its in-house chain of financial advisers, with more than 1,700 people now working for the company on this basis.

Bellamy says many of the newly recruited advisers are former City professionals in their late 30s who want a second career – but his company is also attractive to independent financial advisers (IFAs) who want the security of working for a large business.
“What’s coming out of the 2008/09 period is more invasive regulation, greater compensation levies. If you’re a small IFA you may not be sure you can keep up with all this regulation,” he said.

There was no update on speculation surrounding Lloyds Banking Group’s 60 per cent stake in St James’s Place, despite reports that the bank is looking to offload its interest.

Total funds under management grew by a fifth to reach £34.8bn.