St James’s Place has confirmed that building its Academy and retaining “best of breed” staff will be key focuses for the advice giant going forward.
Speaking at the launch of the firm’s year-end results for 2017 today, chief executive Andrew Croft says the firm is in a strong position for the future with “every reason for confidence”, sees no limit to its growth potential, and feels no threat from the big banks’ possible return to advice.
His comments come on the back of record gross inflows of £14.6bn for the year.
SJP executives speaking this morning said the firm would strive to improve on the areas it performs less well in, and are confident that strong results place the firm in line to achieve an underlying funds under management growth target rate of 15-20 per cent per year.
Underlying cash for SJP after tax at the year-end was £281.2m, while its full-year dividend of 42.86p saw books balance higher than analyst expectations of 41.1p.
Croft says: “Demand for trusted, personal face-to-face advice has never been greater. Our core target market is already large and forecast to grow further still, driven by favourable demographic trends and the accumulation of investable assets.”
Advisers numbers as of 31 December 2017 sit at 3,661 with Croft also announcing plans to boost adviser numbers within the SJP Academy by 250 in 2018. At the firm’s Asia practices in Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai, adviser numbers currently sit at 122, with no plans for expansion.
Croft also says the firm’s “best of breed” approach to its recruitment and the transparency of its external investment services meant investors could be confident they were being well-managed, as SJP closely monitored its external investment advice providers and had no qualms removing any manager from any portfolio where necessary.
Of the possible re-entry of banks into the advice market, SJP executives say there is no immediate threat, arguing that the “tendency to dip in, fail, and dip out” for banks spoke for itself.
The results presentation also saw SJP touch on its migration of funds and system processes as part of its replatforming with technology provider Bluedoor, confirming the added costs of maintaining legacy systems and working alongside dual systems meant the firm would see even more turnover growth come the expected completion of the migration in 2019.
Record inflows for SJP bring the firm’s total funds under management to £90.7bn, up from £75.3 in 2016.