Clients of St James’s Place have attacked the firm over what they say is an opaque charging structure and punitive levels of exit fees.
The Sunday Times was asked to examine what retired solicitor Arnold Rosen had been charged by SJP between 2009 and 2015 after Rosen could not work out the level of charges himself. SJP says he was given a breakdown of the charges in 2015.
He told the newspaper: “I could not understand what they were charging me. Why is it so difficult to read what just six years’ worth of investment had cost me? It is too opaque for a pensioner to understand. It should not be rocket science.”
Rosen’s fund grew from £280,000 to £391,490 over the six-year period. The Sunday Times says he paid a total of £36,119 over that time. Rosen also paid £3,056 to James Hay for administering an old Sipp, which would have cost £95 to close.
Rosen left SJP in 2015 after three years of trying to understand the charges, citing a lack of transparency.
Another SJP client, who wished to remain anonymous, faces an exit fee of almost £20,000 to leave the company.
SJP operates early exit charges of up to 6 per cent, with clients paying the charge upfront. This reduces by 1 per cent a year over the first six years.
The client said: “We have all paid over the odds before, but it doesn’t feel any better when the person who advised you is someone you considered a friend.
“Ultimately, I am left with the strong feeling that I have been taken for a ride. That is clearly my own fault for being too trusting and not investigating this carefully enough. But it leaves a particularly bad taste in my mouth.”
SJP told the Sunday Times: “All SJP clients are clearly made aware of charges before becoming a client.
“The results of our 2016 client survey, which attracted more than 33,000 responses, showed that 98 per cent felt SJP offered excellent, reasonable or good value for money and 95 per cent would recommend SJP.”
The Sunday Times first investigated SJP’s charging structure in 2015.