St James’s is winner as ISA sales rocket

WEALTH management group St James’s Place yesterday announced a record quarter for new business with total new investments of £1.1bn.

The company said its most closely followed measure of new business, a combination of regular and single premiums, was up 42 per cent from a year earlier at £133.3m. Deutsche Bank analysts had expected a 30 per cent increase in sales from a year earlier to £122m.

Funds under management stood at £23.3bn, a nine per cent increase over the year to date and up by 52 per cent over 12 months.

The climb in assets was partly down to the rise in stockmarkets which have soared near to pre-crisis levels in the last year.

Outlook for the business remains strong, management said in a statement, amid improving economic conditions and strengthening equity markets.

Much of the strength of its first quarter performance can be attributed to the investment business.

Sales of individual savings accounts (ISAs), a tax free investment scheme, more than doubled from a year earlier.

Together with unit trusts total investment rose to £295.6m, an increase of 84 per cent compared to the previous year’s £160.7m.

The company said that for the first quarter of 2010 market conditions remained positive, crediting the gradual improvement of economic conditions and advancing stock markets with aiding the favorable outcomes which had also been seen in the final quarter of 2009.

Chief executive David Bellamy said yesterday that the strong performance “further demonstrates the effectiveness of our business and the quality of our investment proposition for clients. We have a great business that is in excellent shape and we remain optimistic about the future.”

Shares in St James’s Place advanced two per cent in London yesterday to close at 272p.