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SJP performance perks to advisers under fire

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The way St James’s Place pays its advisers has come under fire in the latest in a series of reports into the firm’s business dealings.

A “Nectar points” style system is rewarding SJP advisers based on every additional pound of assets they generate into the firm, including with foreign trips, dinner invites and other perks, according to The Sunday Times.

The paper says that top SJP advisers have been treated to trips to Venice, St Moritz and Monte Carlo. They have also been rewarded with invites to events with guests including Bill Clinton and Joanna Lumley, as well as high-end jewelry.

A company document the paper says it has viewed alerts advisers that their “standard of living” may fall and their life insurance entitlement may cease if they do not bring enough money in to the business.

They may also have to pay back some of the “transitional payment” SJP gives advisers to help them set up as partners with the firm.

Rank and file

SJP’s 3,400 or so partners manage a total of £75bn for the firm, and are understood by the Sunday Times to be ranked according to their targets from “associate partner” up to “triple partner”.

Generating £1.5m in initial advice fees can up partners’ “productivity bonus” by up to 40 per cent, the paper says.

An FCA spokesperson told the paper: “While we cannot comment on individual cases, firms need to consider if their incentives increase the risk of misselling, including where they are based on fees.”

SJP chief executive David Bellamy said that while the firm ran a “contingent system”, the business was not commission-based, and the “old language” of some company documents was being revised.

Bellamy said: “We reward good performance – good in this context includes all aspects of client engagement, serving them well and delivering their individual outcomes…so, while remuneration and recognition are very important, they are just one part of the whole.”

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Comments

There are 86 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Sell sell sell !
    You don’t want to miss meeting Tony Blair!!

    • And I suppose Graeme that you have never presented advice to a client which benefitted them and if accepted (sale made) also remunerated you? I recommend you accept reality and remember that you are also selling, this is the way the commercial world works and the only way anything gets done. You would not want to appear pompous and better than every other business which grovels in the mire of ‘the vulgar commercial imperative’, people such as your clients would you Graeme? Depressingly it seems that there is nothing IFAs hate more than a successful competitor with only a minority share of the market and excellent client retention borne out of very high client satisfaction metrics. In my experience there is no such thing as an IFA and you should not worry about competition, there is plenty of market to go round.

      • Neil F Liversidge 13th February 2017 at 2:02 pm

        Mervyn, there are plenty of us Independents still around, despite your (SJP) bosses’ best efforts and those of their pals at the then-FSA who cut them their bent deal on disclosure. You’re just obviously not one of us. It’s funny you disparage IFAs though, considering how even today you can find solicitors who’re referring to SJP in the mistaken belief that they are independent. For years I politely fended off the monthly calls from SJP recruiters. Finally, they caught me on a bad day and I told them I’d rather have a leg off than become one of their misnamed ‘partners’. The same still goes. Now and forever. Amen.

        • Neil. You are mistaken. I am not an SJP Partner rather I do have access to good and accurate information. You illustrate the issue quite well. You use the words ‘one of us’ which suggest you believe yours ‘is the one true god and all of others are the infidels’. In other words, you struggle with a competing philosophy and wonder if yours may be inferior perhaps?

          Again I put it to you that this British company is successful because its clients like it and they get what they need from it on a continuing basis. As I understand from the last statement to the city, they have around 10% of the qualified UK adviser force meaning that 90% is not SJP. I don’t see what you are worried about.

      • There speaks a wage slave. Yes you may have the title ‘Partner’ but in view of recent judgements I don’t see that lasting long.

        And yes IFAs are superior. Many (if not most) of us run our own companies. (In my case ran – for 25 years). They may not make as much money (mainly because they don’t charge rip off fees or commission). I actually found SJP a help. Whenever they were in contention (pretty rarely I will admit) I merely presented your charging structure against mine. I find you claim about client satisfaction a little odd. I wonder why over the years I and other IFAs gained so many ex SJP disaffected clients.

        Oh and for your further education (I know working for such a big firm is a pretty cloistered experience) I charged fees since the early 1990’s.Cleints paid for the advice, whether or not a product was purchased. (How would that work with SJP Green Shield stamps for funds under management?). I know that I was not alone in this.

        In summary before you poop off at IFAs you need to get out more and swallow less of the SJP propaganda. From what I have seen over recent weeks the spotlight is firmly on your company and I would recon that significant changes may well result.

        • Hello Harry

          My you are really worried about SJP aren’t you? I accept that IFAs seemingly have the perception of superiority and this has been demonstrated publicly on many occasions. Your finest hour I think was the Endowment and Pension miss-selling debacle. They were on your watch I think Harry, early 90’s to date.

          They were of course a clear demonstration that an IFA is indeed a superior moral being and their attention is never diverted by the dirty business of remuneration. ‘Me’ thinks the IFA doth protest too much’.

          As for further regulatory change Harry, I suggest you focus on defending the principal of advice which is not free at the point of delivery rather than ‘my god is better than your god’. After all if we come under further attack as an industry then you may at some point be compelled to close your company down (Just you and your PA but you still put Managing Director on your card) as you have been capital requirement’ed out of existence and then where would you be? Paying PPI premiums for the rest of your retirement and not answering ‘official looking’ letters I should say.

          • Typical tied salesman. Read the response. I mentioned in the past. I sold my business in 2015. I didn’t put MD after my name – I was always unincorporated. Nor did I put any escutcheons even though I was (and still am) CFP and Chartered. I had no problems with endowments as in the main I recommended repayment loans. My capital adequacy was in the region of X20 of what was required and I had no trouble with PII or any other imposts.

            How you reach the conclusion that an outfit such as yours would cause me any worries is beyond me. I didn’t worry when I was an authorised IFA and I certainly have no concerns now that I’m no longer authorised. Again if you read my post you will see that I ran my own firm (yes – proudly a sole unincorporated trader) for 25 years and made a decent living in all that time and of course made a profit in every single year. Sure I didn’t coin it in like SJP, but then I had no complaints, didn’t loose a client (although I sacked a few) had no one on my back telling me how much I had to bring in and enjoyed my work hugely.

            Again I never maintained that advice was free at the point of delivery. Again your careless perusal of my post ignores (or overlooks) the fact that I charged whether or not a product resulted.

            As seems to be the penchant at SJP and other tied agencies you have been so brainwashed in defending the indefensible. Sure I will readily admit that there have been too many sub-standard IFAs, but thankfully regulation over the years has whittled their numbers. I too remember Trevor Deaves and Roger Levitt.

            Please also remember that much of the disasters you recount were largely (but not exclusively) carried out by members of networks, whom I personally regard about as independent as you are.

            But my own experiences are not unique and there were and are many IFAs who can mirror my own experiences.

      • Couldn’t agree with you more Meryvn in 30 years in this businesses I like to think I have pretty much seen everything from all angles and it seems to that there is plenty of business to go around and it doesn’t look good when you are seen to be putting the ” opposition ” down. I wonder if all IFA’s actually take 3% initial and 0.5% trail ? – I don’t think so as fell across one just last week who had taken 6% initial and taking 1% trail ? #justsaying

      • The difference between a good IFA and a SJP representative is the said IFA represents his clients not the product providers. SJP’s business model is built around building distribution channels with specific providers in specific areas of advice. Therefore the SJP rep (and he is a rep not an advisor) is a product flogger as many contributors have aluded.

        There are many IFA’s that operated a fee orientated business model long before the RDR was even conceived. To suggest IFA’s are “salesman” is insultive to thousands of advisors that put their clients interests before their own pay packets. The same cannot be said of SJP with their rip off charges.

        • Sanjay, sales happens to be a good thing to be skilled in, perhaps the principal thing if you are to succeed in business and are not employed by the state for example. If you take your rose tinted spectacles off for a moment you will note that all of the planets top business people have or have access to top flight sales skills.

          A sales skill is the ability to influence your clients thinking, to breed in them trust and credibility via the presentation of evidence and the use of effective interpersonal skills which results in a willingness to accept your advice as sound and therefore action it as it is for their own good after all.

          I suggest that if you are devoid of the skill to influence your clients because you ‘are not a salesman’ then it is they whom suffer as you are likely to be ineffective. I presume that for the few whom accept your advice you will then implement a product? This means you sold a product ergo you are a sales person, if they paid for your time, you are salesman.

          Stow your pomposity and accept that everybody has and is selling something. I have experience of advisers of your type, limited interpersonal skills, low client retention and a general dissatisfaction with their station in life often mark them out. Lest you forget Sanjay that over the last 30 years it is the IFA community which has on every occasion bought us into disrepute over matters such as endowments and pension opt-outs etc, you cannot blame SJP for that. Most of whining is resentment borne out of the perception they are doing something IFAs cannot. They are not but they do have first rate compliance processes and quality people delivering it. That makes a regulator more relaxed and gives them time to focus upon those whom do not.

          To finish how dare you impune good professional sales people by putting IFAs ahead of them using your flawed and naïve virtue signalling guff!

  2. You simply cannot get the Allied Crowbar gene out of Weinberg.

  3. If memory serves, the FCA has clearly declared its disapproval of firms operating a system whereby advisers get paid only if they sell something and, from what others have posted (I don’t know if it’s true), SJP partners NEVER charge pure advice fees. EVERYTHING they do is predicated on selling something, which is surely directly contrary to one of the fundamental precepts of the RDR.

    Yet, for reasons at which we can only guess, the FCA appears to be quite unconcerned about SJP continuing to operating a contingent “advice” model. One wonders on what basis the FCA still allows SJP to describe its partners as advisers when, in reality, they’re just product sellers.

    • Good points, well made!

    • Nicholas Pleasure 13th February 2017 at 11:07 am

      Julian,

      I had them visit around 6 months ago because I am always interested in any business proposition and prefer to hear what firms have to say for themselves, rather than believe the press.

      Firstly, I had a very professional, strong presentation. It was excellent and highly convincing. However, they were suspiciously reluctant to give much detail about how the financial side of things would work, just that they could save me lots of money and even give me money to get underway. They would wine and dine me somewhere expensive for a presentation.

      For a short while I bought it but I couldn’t help but be reminded of a previous experience…

      I’m sure that some time in your career you have been subjected to the “interview” for the position at the direct sales force, where it becomes clear that the interview is a sales pitch and they don’t really care who you are.

      Regrettably it reminded me of that.

    • Well said Julian and all
      Before any boring product is discussed clients have their strategy costing say £2-4K- that’s a cheque
      Yes we all sell ourselves – but flogging product?
      That’s very eighties, and it is obvious SJP are stuck there
      As many have said, it’s great to meet a SJP client as you can be of genuine help
      The clients eyes widen with horror when they realise what they have been paying the salespeople
      To integrity – and bacon butties!

  4. Worked there for 5+ years – Bellamy’s bottom should be incandescent about now. The last paragraph, sooooooo not true…..if I was with SJP now I would print this article out and save it in case I didn’t hit target in the future.

    • Failed former associate of SJP makes inaccurate assumption based upon information now 5 years out of date and we should take you at face value? Can you tell us why you were asked to leave or is there a cloud above you by any chance?

  5. Following a recent case concerning the ‘Pimlico Plumber’ which found that the so called self-employed plumbers were in fact employed; doesn’t this really now put the lid on it for SJP. Particularly in light of this article. Doesn’t this show that the so-called partners are in fact employees and perhaps the Revenue should cast a beady eye on this whole operation.

  6. The “old language” may change to new language, but the old culture will remain.

  7. Compliance junkie 13th February 2017 at 10:21 am

    How the hell does this get signed off by the compliance function? And what are the FCA going to do about this? It would be nice to see some action taken. Smacks of yesteryear.

  8. Don’t you love it, it’s not commission just vertical integration with rewards for sales. RDR has meant these boys have to get a slightly different badge but nothing else has changed from the AD and JRA days. Ah well maybe someone will produce a financial equivalent of ‘Life on Mars’ and let’s see if we can spot the difference from then and now!

  9. Most advisers have accepted that a days golf, tickets to the big games and other past business events are over. Clearly it would appear the regulatory guidance (that word again) about accepting inducements are like all regulatory guidance, not worth the paper they are written on until they decide to inforce.

    Guidance provides the regulator the freedom and luxury to react with hindsight. The regulator would have you believe they do not want rules as this would stifle innovation. The truth is more likely they do not want rules as the responsibility would then firmly fall at their door.

    Good luck to those that have benefited, but I would be looking over my shoulder as you might be getting a visit from the regulator in the very near future. The guidance I would suggest has been stretched a little thin.

  10. Harry, I have been saying for a long time that “self employed” advisers would have their status challenged – that could see numbers drop fast when NIC etc erodes margin

    • Neil F Liversidge 13th February 2017 at 2:05 pm

      Rob, you were and are right. In any case, self-employed advisers are too big a compliance risk for any firm that thinks about it long and hard enough. Been there, seen it, done it, never again.

  11. Congratulations to the Sunday Times for keeping SJP’s appalling behaviour in the news. However, it is time that the FCA were put under Parliamentary pressure to either confirm approval of SJP’s ‘contingent’ business model, or take enforcement action. The status quo makes a mockery of other firms who are playing it straight.

    • Nicholas Pleasure 13th February 2017 at 12:22 pm

      ….And if it is confirmed then the FCA should make it clear that it is open to all, not just SJP. I don’t want to move back to a contingent charging model but I would like to see a return of a little corporate hospitality. I only ever accepted it from firms that I was prepared to recommend anyway – it always seemed unethical to take from firms that I wouldn’t dream of using.

  12. I work for love, not money

  13. and when I say love, I love DB transfers

  14. Are there any SJP advisers out there that would like to take me to Venice?

  15. This is just St James’s Place’s way of rewarding their high achievers (i.e. those who write the most business). It is a throwback to the direct sales days of Abbey Life and Allied Dunbar when the top sales people were rewarded with overseas sales conventions, plush offices etc. St James’s Place is a meritocracy where the high producers are given numerous rewards which don’t appear in the reduction in yield figures used in illustrations.

  16. Jeremy Stuart-Cox 13th February 2017 at 11:47 am

    At the risk of being pilloried by the Money Marketing readership and to offer some ‘BBC’ balance to the universal perception displayed by the above comments & in the FS world that SJP is in some way in league with Beelzebub let me pose these simple questions. I should point out that I worked for some years for AD (as many in the industry have done) but have no association with SJP.
    1) Why, if the proposition is so poor for the client, is the inflow of new money into their funds continuing at rates that would make a lot of IFA businesses salivate?
    2) Why has the share price increased by 200% in 5 years?
    3) Again why, if the proposition is so poor, are clients not leaving in droves?
    4) Why is their main source of new recruits from the IFA market?
    Duncan Carter states above that this is just AD or JRA with a different badge, which , if correct and looking at the success at SJP, would suggest there was little wrong with any of these businesses, but I may be wrong if I interpret Duncan’s comments as intended to be complimentary.
    The market dictates the viability of a business and the market is making its views pretty clearly about SJP.
    If I was an IFA and I perceived the SJP offering as poorly as so many do I would be asking a very simple question, namely “if my proposition is so much better that that of SJP in cost and access to the whole of the investment market why are investor’s not beating a party to my door?”

    • Nicholas Pleasure 13th February 2017 at 12:26 pm

      I don’t know whether SJP’s proposition is good, bad or indifferent. The problem I have is that I am not allowed to operate on the kind of contingent charging system SJP uses. Nor can I benefit from the kind of corporate ‘hospitality’ that SJP Partners receive.

      If the playing field was level, IFA’s would regard SJP as just another competitor. What irks is that SJP appears to benefit from a ‘sweetheart’ deal with the regulator.

    • 1. Clients don’t understand finance. That’s why we exist in the first place.
      2. See 1
      3. As above
      4. Advisers dont care as much about clients wealth as they do their own. (this is not necessarily wrong or a criticism. Bankrupt advisers are no use to anyone)

      next question please.

      • Jeremy Stuart-Cox 13th February 2017 at 3:54 pm

        Alan if ‘clients don’t understand finance’ provides your answer to my first 3 questions but they are nevertheless attracted by a brand with which they feel comfortable, then to impact on SJP’s market you either have to educate the clients to the merits of your offering or compete with the brand. If as you say, and I agree with you to a large extent, clients don’t understand finance, then trying to compete with the likes of SJP on a cost basis is going to be difficult because this is not the biggest issue for the client.

    • 1. Highly polished presentation and marketing (described by some as all fur coat and no knickers).

      2. Flogging boatloads of new product and dragging in mountains of new money (generally) increases profits and thus the share price. Oh yes, SJP’s Get Out of (regulatory) Jail Free card helps.

      3. See 1. above.

      4. See 3. above.

    • GrowingTiredOfAllThisBollox 13th February 2017 at 5:19 pm

      The answer to your questions 1 – 4 is “Very clever marketing”. Fools and their money…..

  17. St James’s Place work on the Pareto rule that in any sales force 20% of the people produce 80% of the business. So what they try and do is recruit people who would be in the top 20% of any sales force and give them the rewards to ensure that they stay with them. People who don’t meet their production targets will be quickly shown the door but for those who do they will be handsomely rewarded for their efforts.

    I know that a lot of IFA’s were attracted to them around the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) period because of their practice buyout scheme which presented a profitable way of eventually exiting the business.

  18. Jeremy makes some valid points. Putting the ‘remuneration structure’ to one side for a minute I think there is lots that IFAs can learn from SJP. They are fabulous at marketing themselves as evidenced by £75bn under management. Do I approve of their smoke and mirrors charging model? No I don’t, but I do admire how they have built a hugely successful business model some of which the IFA community can and should learn from.

  19. Jeremy Stuart-Cox 13th February 2017 at 1:39 pm

    With regard to Nicholas P’s comments above the solutions are straightforward.
    There is nothing to stop you offering a contingent fee option such as that offered by SJP, it is not outlawed and, regardless of the noises being made, the FCA clearly don’t have an issue with it – at the present time. Many IFAs decided on this route post RDR & work on this basis today, more often than not with a fee structure alongside for pure advice work.
    Furthermore you can enjoy any amount of corporate hospitality similar to that SJP partners enjoy just as long as you are happy to give up your independent status. By so doing you will remove the potential for bias in your recommendations that such incentives are deemed, by the FCA, to tempt you into. On the other hand as long as you are tied to one provider such bias is deemed to be removed and you will be able to enjoy all the corporate freebies that you desire.

  20. To Jeremy – good questions, perhaps answered thus:
    1. No-one can deny the quality of their presentation and marketing material – a triumph of style over substance if one considers the continuing arguments over the clarity of how charges are levied and their purpose. I do wonder, thinking back to Equitable Life days, about the nature of the relationship between the ‘partners’ and solicitors and accountants still.
    2. People investing in SJP shares will have a different agenda to the clients and their own interests which will inevitably conflict on occasions.
    3. I refer to point 1 above and the disgraceful exit penalties charged.
    4. T Murphy makes the point eloquently above.

    Where SJP have been astute is attempting to grow to a size that is ‘too big to fail’ so that is perhaps why the FCA has dragged its feet on so many of the issues that have been reasonably raised here and I look forward to, if he can put aside his rather childish and largely ineffectual point-scoring, Mervyn King’s answer to Julian Steven’s point regarding advice only fees if IFAs are so out of touch with current practices. To sidestep this is to confirm to people their views of SJP are, in fact, correct. PS I used to work for Allied Dunbar so I know how direct SALES force behaviour is driven and I didn’t fail, I just had enough of being treated like a mushroom!

    • Good afternoon. Interestingly the majority of negative commentators whom until recently would have derived the bulk of their income from annual management charges, are now piously deriding SJP for not exclusively fee charging. The detractors after all once were 99.9% content to take a payment from the investment provider which was collected from the AMC over its lifetime.

      If those whom now fee charge exclusively had previously chosen to move to it of their own volition without compulsion from legislation, then I might have some respect for their position.

      SJP does not escape scrutiny, in fact size and success is a double edged sword in the British Isles, they face greater daily and growing scrutiny as a result.

      The assumption of a deal with the regulator is a naive assumption perhaps borne out of a failure to understand that their clients actually like the MO. However wouldn’t you do a deal with the FCA if you could?

      In essence the British disease means success breeds resentment, especially from competitors whom only believe that their model is ‘the righteous way’ forgetting ironically they only do so as they were recently compelled to do so and not their own Damascene conversion. There is room for both models and if you perceive it as inequitable, rather than attempt to undermine a British success story with strong client support for the MO, why not call and join them instead? A secure and successful IFA should not spend time in angry resentment as they understand that they do not have all of the answers for all of clients.

      • Nicholas Pleasure 13th February 2017 at 3:25 pm

        You’re missing the point Mervyn (possibly deliberately).

        You are correct that most clients like SJP’s MO; I know this because they liked it when I was able to offer it too. However, that MO was outlawed for IFA’s 5 years ago under RDR.

        Many of us would love to be able to bundle up our fee, the product charge and fund management in one, easy to explain, charge. The deal to have an exit penalty is fine with me providing it is properly explained.

        Personally I don’t begrudge SJP its success. I do, however, object to it being able to offer terms that I am no longer allowed to offer to my clients. That strikes me as unfair and if you read the comments above, the majority are objecting to the unlevel playing field between IFA’s and SJP.

        Can you explain why SJP get to play by different rules please?

      • Join SJP? And have to churn all my clients’ existing investments into SJP products or see them slip away to my present competitors? No thank you.

      • At last some balance !!

        Well said Mervyn :))

    • Let’s forget SJP vs IFA shall we for a minute ?

      If an IFA is self employed ( or Ltd Company ) and has his own business and therefore has to generate new business to survive/trade I fail to see how that differs from SJP ? – the difference being that IFA’s can offer whole of market ( supposedly ) and that SJP partners only offer SJP products which interestingly enough contain some of the worlds top fund managers ?

      As for the exit penalties – 100% invested from day one for a medium to long term investor with 6 year sliding exit penalties seems reasonable to me rather than paying up to 6% upfront of the amount invested ????

      I get the overwhelming feeling this board is populated by advisers who have jumped over the fence to fees only so they can be seen to be whiter than white ?

      I wonder how many of these advisers still have trail commission coming in from historical business done years ago with companies that had early surrender penalties – also how many people charge fees on a standing order for telling the their clients their invest,nets are doing okay ?

      And before anyone asks I have worked on both sides of the fence including Allied Dunbar !!

  21. Nicholas Pleasure, and access to a bundled share class. I wonder where the fund rebate goes.

  22. I’ll take you gedgetron, let me just finish this TVAS and my cup of tea and i’ll give you a call.

  23. Just read the feed of comments and must say very well balanced both for and against. I’m an IFA and believe there is room for all but in the spirit of what RDR was supposed to do let’s have a level playing field for all with no exceptions and if the regulator is happy for SJP to continue in it’s present form then we in the IFA sector should be allowed to follow suit…simples!

  24. Waste of Ink, just ask the FCA

  25. So let’s get some balance here shall we ?

    If an SJP partner receives 3% initial and .5% trail and the overall AMC is 1.5 % how does this differ from the IFA who took 6% and 1% trail ( fund charge in addition )

    We all know the client pays for it somehow and as Mervyn says if the clients is happy with performance, service etc just where is the difference and Harry come on – you really win business off SJP on the basis that your charges are lower ??? – I hope I never have to try and convince a client to use me just because my charges are lower !!

  26. Some very tetchy SJP people on here trying to defend the indefensible. Just because many of their clients haven’t experienced proper independent advice and are therefore blissfully unaware (happy in SJP language), that doesn’t make it ok.
    Personally, I’m delighted to see the continued focus of the Sunday Times on the practices of SJP. It makes it much more likely that their clients and prospective clients will be looking around at alternatives that offer better value for money. It also makes it likely that the regulator will shut down their out of date business model soon.
    However, I’d also like to see some focus from the Sunday Times on other vertically integrated firms. Companies such as Wesleyann, Prudential etc offer similar incentives to their sales force with holidays and other sales based rewards. Vertical integration always stinks, it’s just that SJP smells slightly worse than anyone else.

  27. First of all I really do not care much for SJP. There fees are far to high and the and the fact that they are not all transparent as far as their status is concerned is annoying. However the Sunday Times have decided its open season on SJP and they will continue to attack them for some time to come. The problem is the article this week is far from accurate and is as misleading to the public as is some of SJPs advisers explanation of their status. The article says that most advisers in our industry are now salaried which as we know is complete rubbish. Also the banner headlines regarding cufflinks jewellery and expensive hotels is utterly academic as they are not IFA’s and they aren’t really even restricted, they are and should be known as tied advisers – end of. The regulator really needs to wake up to this one and sort out these ridiculous status names ASAP. A lot of restricted advisers are completely and genuinely whole of market but simply will not advise on say VCT’s or DB transfers for instance, why should they be placed in the same category as SJP when they are clearly miles apart? Having said all that and going back to the incentives to me there isn’t a problem here as SJP sell there own products, Inventive bans were brought in to stop IFAs and Multi tied advisers being incentivised into recommending products from life offices or investment houses, not for sales forces selling its own products. The advisers will still sell the same products regardless of how many cufflinks and posh hotel stays they receive.
    The bigger picture here is that the ordinary general public in the main read these inaccurate newspaper reports and simply tie the whole industry with the same brush so its actually counter productive to us all. These idiots from the Sunday times have spent life times having a go at advisers and seeing you all argue with each other on these pages is exactly what they want!!

  28. Interesting comments from everyone – but as many have already said – SJP appears to be operating in a very unique ‘grace and favours’ arena! The playing field does appear to be very much ‘stacked’ to their advantage and somewhat out of quilter with the rest of the IFA market and how the RDR was designed to operate. With the media taking so much interest – I have a sneaking feeling that things may have to change a little at SJP! The FCA needs to even up the playing field a little!

  29. Alas……SJP practices being called into question. Commission, perks are all just the tip of the iceberg. As for the administration, regulatory rules, legal guidelines you’d be aswell hoping them out the window because whatever the partner wants the partner gets and don’t dare question it!!! E.g partner at the month end/year end desperate to make targets “lets pretend I already have client money, lets invest it then some weeks down the line we’ll “fudge” the paperwork to fit that true due diligence has been carried out”. So I can meet my targets/double partner/keep triple partner status. That’s exactly the honest, transparent company I’d be wanting looking after my money ????!

  30. SJP has regular meetings with the FCA and is probably the most tightly regulated FS private client company in the U.K.
    The internal compliance team can be a force to be reckoned with and always put client’s needs first. There are Partner “advice quality” gradings for new business and replacements that are closely watched. Many an IFA has fallen foul of these and in some cases cannot operate under such supervision having been used to relative freedom.
    The “3 & 5 year rule” mean that new Partners are forbidden from taking advice fees from clients they previously advised directly for 5 years and 3 years for those who were advised in the same advice area.
    I appreciate SJP is being treated differently and this is viewed unfairly, but it is really down to its structure. The ability for the FCA to regulate it centrally, how it audits itself in such an effective fashion and the very positive client feedback. It is an excellent company for clients and advisers. BTW, not all SJP Partners charge full advice fees!

  31. The way I see things is that, IFAs tend to be a little jealous of St. James’s Place as they cannot compete with their investment approach and the work carried out by their independent investment committee. Being an IFA is an impossible job, there are too many investment funds/products/providers/platforms etc to be truly independent and also do all of your other work.

    I met with a so-called IFA based in Sheffield in a few years ago, they offered one platform with the choice of six funds. Surely these are the companies your regulator should be concentrating on….is this really independent advice?! Then there are those IFAs that think they are fund managers or economists.

    I have had my investments with St. James’s Place for over 8 years and remain happy with service and performance. Isn’t what SJP do the same as other companies such as Brown Shipley or Brewin Dolphin? (i.e. transferring monies into their structures and the investment committee managing those funds?)

  32. Be patient guys and gals. SDJP is now firmly in the press spotlight and presumably also has attracted the attention of the regulator and the revenue. It will be interesting to see what transpires. As to their great performance, bear in mind that it is bundled with all sorts of other things within the group and is not a pure comparison with IFA activity.

    As to jealousy of successful firms – well many of us I’m sure greatly admire Invesco Perpetual, Schroders, Fundsmith and many more. It’s just that we seem to have an antipathy to spivs.

  33. I’m not quite sure what influence the press “spotlight” is going to have on the FCA. I’m fairly certain they know the intimate inner workings of one of the country’s largest wealth managers.
    SJP work with and closely monitor (face to face) Fund Managers across the globe that no IFA can access. The minimum investment in some cases is over £20M but SJP has exclusive access via its funds. These are genuinely top companies. It’s a shame the industry can’t seem to keep up and sad to see SJP Partners regarded as “spivs” when 500,000 and an ever increasing number of SJP clients do not share this view.

  34. Oh Harry, put your chip aside, go and get your 3 series coupe and shiny suit cleaned and calm down. The more you protest the more we are convinced it is unrequited affection for the SJP MO. I am surprised you have time to be on here as surely your newest client for whom an ISA may be best, expects you to assess 300 plus funds and managers before a meeting. Oh hang on you need at least 50 hours at ten minutes per fund for that, so why not do what you and your compatriots always do?

    Use your favourite platform and the same 6 funds from the same providers. True whole of market assessment plus everything else required for a professional service is simply not possible for an IFA. There is virtually no such thing, the comfort of title is only that, comfort not reality.

    As for spivs I shall treat that with the contempt it deserves especially as it is coming from someone whom along with others brought advice practice in disrepute in the 90’s- pensions miss selling and endowments anyone?

  35. You pay scant attention to posts. I longer give regulated advice.

    Also please remember that the ‘real’ Rothschild blew a fuse when you started to call yourselves JRA and you had to rename to SJP. If you were such a revered organisation I wonder why Rothschild was so put out at the time?

    I would also point out that the debacles you highlight were in a very large part perpetrated by tied agents, direct sales, large organisations and platforms. As I have been at pains to point out I (and many other IFAs) never had any issues with these. Nor have a great preponderance of us ever been fined or sanctioned. Can you say the same?

    • Jeremy Stuart-Cox 15th February 2017 at 4:28 pm

      Harry it’s all well and good making unsubstantiated statements to bolster your argument but it doesn’t aid debate. Please remember JRA was established in 1991 by Mike Wilson, Mark Weinberg and Lord Rothschild.The company was floated on the stock market in 1997 and at this point changed its name to SJP. Jacob Rothschild was not inclined to have the Rothschild name associated with a publicly owned company over which he had no controls & that is the reason behind the change of name….no fuse was blown other than perhaps one brought about by the return he received on the floatation!!

      • That’s not the way I heard it at the time. I used to deal with Rothschild when they had a very attractive pension offering as well as their unit trusts. Their senior people were not reticent in airing their views concerning JRA.

  36. Harry, when you ignorently label 3600 people “spivs”, I think it’s only fair that you might receive a little comeback. As Mervyn eluded, it seems jealousy is rife but wouldn’t it be better for IFAs to try and adapt their business models to take on SJP’s approach, rather than constantly moaning about it?

    • It is precisely that approach that elicits the word Spiv. Over my career I have had SJP ‘partners’ contact me to whinge about clients they have lost. The narrative was both hair raising and illuminating. I have had their office cold call me on several occasions trying to recruit me. Again a script that would make a double glazing salesman blush. I see little difference (except for their financial success) in their methodology and that of the operations run my Trevor Deaves or Roger Levitt.

  37. I cease to be amazed that a profession of financial advisors who do sell their expertise and knowledge and should be paid well for a difficult job, can debate and argue about the finer points of various business models like kids in a playground. Having retired from 25 years helping my clients make life affecting decisions, mostly as an IFA but also early in my career with Allied Dunbar and GRE direct tied, I was morally happiest as an IFA and so were all my clients. We all should take pride in what we do/did for clients, no matter which biz model we use. There are millions of clients who have benefited from our help and advice…widows, orphans, the sick and retired. We should act as professionals if we wish to take issue we should target the press and media who print non facts, inaccurate detail and mis-inform the public scaring many into NOT seeking advice at all. Until we stand united and the press positively promote professional advice and guidance with Qualified Journalists not bloggers ! The public will loose faith and a post Brexit UK the unadvised unknowing public will stumble blindly and ignorantly into the abyss.

  38. Anon and Mervyn King, why don’t you use your names and state your vested interest? Independence means putting your clients first, not flogging a firms products in a slick fashion with a few glossy brochures. As I have said before, one can’t serve two masters.

  39. Hi Duncan, I’m certain you are the best IFA in the land, capable of levels of independence of which none other can aspire and I wish you much success, but your comments regarding SJP are stuck in the dark ages. The company has evolved to allow diligence of products and services on a vast global scale. You may think SJP Partners are all Tied and therefore just slick salespeople, but the truth is selecting a panel advice solutions for clients can take months and requires a great deal of ongoing diligence. A great example is the SJP Emerging Markets Fund a few years ago which involved an XRay process of 750 managers, whittled down to 270 for final diligence of which 70 were interviewed face to face. This took 7 months. Partners can no way do this themselves which is why we have the support of a FTSE 100 company and 2 major independent investment consultancies.
    I wonder how you might do the same? True independence isn’t possible without massive infrastructure which I’m afraid most IFAs simply do not have. SJP Partners are Tied because the independent diligence is already done for us on a large, global and effective scale.

  40. @Anon

    How odd then that on the last occasion I acquired and ex SJP client and he showed me his portfolio, the ones I had prepared for existing clients did better over the same period. Your vast global scale probably costs a fortune and on the evidence seems to be a bit of a waste of money.

    IFAs can indeed research pretty effective. It’s called plagiarism and with a bit of imagination and the right sources due diligence can be very bit as good as those spending squillions.

    How odd then that your Emerging Markets fund isn’t listed under Global Emerging Markets, but is unclassified – as is all the other SJP funds. (Money Management). How odd – is this to avoid comparison?

    Anyway when compared to Global Emerging Markets there are a large collection of funds that have out performed the SJP 6.8% over 5 years with a volatility of 4.3. Just as an example Henderson, Jupiter, Newton and Templeton all did significantly better (there are others as well) over the period with similar if not lower volatility. That’s what you call independent advice. But then an SJP drone is discouraged from looking over the fence. What value your vast global scale now?

  41. Let me try to be succinct. I am an IFA sharing an office with SJP advisers. So I know both sides of the argument very well. The main issue if you are SJP is that you can only be paid if you sell your product. There is no issue with selling a service, of course I do that too, the difference is, I can still be remunerated if a client doesn’t take a product. So I don’t have to force the issue or walk away without earning anything. All of the incentives DO lead to bad practice and clients being put into the wrong product. Due to the remuneration would an SJP adviser use an investment account or bond? They earn more with a bond, so that is the usual destination…

  42. I would like to see a survey of SJP clients and asked two questions. Do SJP offer independent advice? What fees are charged by SJP for your investment?
    If you throw enough money at a marketing campaign and to produce a public image you can sell anything to the public even if it kills them or rots their teeth and the public buy it until the government step in and stop it.

  43. You lot are acting like spoilt unintelligent children. The press love to see us all at each others throats. We are all in the same industry working hard for clients we are also all different and do things in different ways – respect each other and stop giving the press more Ammo !!

  44. Congratulations Harry, you are the best IFA. As I said, you clearly reach levels of independence of which none other is capable. If I may provide a little advice, past performance over set time periods and measures of beta provide little guidance of future results, but if you really want to start a performance conversation, 84% of SJP funds have beaten their relevant benchmarks over the past 5 years and 76% over the past 10 years. If you take a look at ARC PCI’s (Asset Risk Consultants) private client indices which actually factor in complete client portfolio strategy performance in comparison to over 100 of our direct competitors, 84% of SJP Portfolios have beaten these indices over the past 3 years. These more expansive and useful metrics is all Partners and their clients are really interested in. SJP has 2 Emerging Markets Funds. One BRIC and one non-BRIC just so you’re aware. I wish you the best as I’m sure you do us.

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