Business models within the wealth adviser space vary but the structure of the FTSE 100 listed St James’s Place Wealth Management structure remains truly distinctive.
Andrew Humphries (pictured), marketing director, explains: “The fundamental business model has remained the same since 1991 aiming to provide the highest quality face-to-face personal financial advice we can through the St James’s Place Partnership, the in-house advisory channel of St James’s Place.”
The 2,132 St James’s Place Partners (the marketing term used to describe St James’s Place representatives) are self-employed wealth managers running their own businesses closely linked to St James’s Place in a vertically integrated business model. St James’s Place Wealth Management effectively acts as a central hub, provides the products and service, while the Partners provide the financial advice.
“The reason we only distribute through the Partnership is that we believe in face- to- face advice,” Humphries explains. “And the best route to that is by ensuring high quality advisers, so we have very strict criteria in terms of who is eligible to join St James’s Place. We recruit from existing high quality advisers and increasingly train and develop our own.”
The company runs a successful Academy programme, “Over the last two or three years we have recognised that there is a dearth of new blood coming into the industry so we have established our own academies in London, Manchester and the Midlands. We take second careerists who want a career change, show a keen interest in our face-to-face advice based approach and wish to gain the opportunity to build their own business,” Humphries says.
St James’s Place has a distinctive approach to investment management. It has no in-house team of investment managers, believing that no single investment house can have a monopoly of investment expertise. Instead, it selects a number of leading external managers to manage its broad range of funds. These choice of managers is made by the St James’s Place Investment Committee, advised by a number of independent investment consultants including Stamford Associates and Redington.
A combination of high quality face-to-face advice and best in field fund managers has resulted in the firm having over GBP55 billion of funds under management.
In addition to the Investment Committee, there are other specialists who select in specialist areas such as the venture capital or EIS sectors, along with those specialising in life assurance, protection and mortgages. “There is a combination of products we manufacture ourselves such as ISAs, pensions and bonds,” Humphries says. “Plus other products and services where we will perform due diligence to identify who we think are the best in those markets.”
“The key point is to ensure our Partners can focus on what they do best – giving bespoke face-to-face advice without having to spend significant time worrying about the quality of the underlying providers,” notes Humphries.
While remaining focused on the UK, the company sees opportunities to expand their services to the expatriate community. “Building upon the successful integration of our newly acquired team in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore, we are also in discussions with the relevant authorities in the Middle EaSt We hope, to progress the provision of financial advice to the UK expatriate community there in the near future,” says Humphries.