Sunday 2 February 2020 12:11 pm

St James’s Place overhauls pay and perks after scrutiny

St James’s Place is set to overhaul its pay and perks programmes following intense scrutiny of the incentives offered to partners, including cruises and white-gold cufflinks. 

Bosses at Britain’s largest wealth manager have told staff the changes will reward “the right behaviours” and go beyond recognising sales made in a single year, according to the Sunday Times. 

Executives said that all overseas business trips, including annual cruises for top performing staff, would be axed, alongside company “regalia” such as the cufflinks. 

At the company’s annual meeting last week, chief executive Andrew Croft and managing director Ian Gascoigne announced a host of changes designed to modernise the wealth manager’s image. 

The pair said that the company’s 4,271 advisers, known as partners, would no longer be paid solely based on performance. Factors such as customer retention, charity work, and qualifications will also now be taken into account too. 

The firm’s so-called cliff-edge bonus structure, where partners have to hit a certain sales target to receive a bonus the following year, will also be replaced. 

St James’s Place had launched a review into its remuneration practices following a series of reports from the Sunday Times last year.

An anonymous whistleblower told the paper that partners at the firm were put under pressure to meet targets by selling expensive investments and pensions to clients, with top performers invited on luxury cruises. 

In October, Croft defended the cruises, telling City A.M.: “The overseas trips are also very much business meetings. There’s an awful lot of business content to them.”

He added that scrutiny of the incentives had made the wealth manager reconsider whether they should still offer the trips. 

“The spotlight has made us say, actually, are these overseas trips still appropriate and proportionate a 21st century situation.”

In his speech at last week’s annual meeting, held at London’s O2 Arena, Croft said media coverage had made it a hard year for the St James’s Place, and had forced it to make some “quick and difficult decisions”, the Sunday Times reported. 

“Criticism hurts, but it doesn’t mean it’s wrong,” said Croft. “We need to evolve to ensure incentives remain relevant to society.”

St James’s Place could not be reached for comment.