Iain Rayner (pictured), Joint Chief Operating Officer, St. James’s Place Wealth Management, reports that the firm has gained over a third more in funds under management over the last 15 months, going up from GBP60 billion to GBP80 billion.
The number of St. James’s Place advisers has been equally buoyant, with a 10 per cent increase to 3,415 at the end of 2016. “What has happened is that increasingly we are training people through our academies,” Rayner explains, also noting that the second career phenomenon continues to bring new people into the financial services industry.
St. James’s Place Academies in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Scotland are booming and a further strong trend is the next generation academy peopled by the sons and daughters of existing advisers, or by younger people in their early 20s coming into the business.
“With the increasing professionalism of financial services and more advisers being chartered, we see a big growth in our next generation academy. And with them coming through our connections, it’s a nice story from the client’s point of view and from our point of view, it’s fantastic.”
The intergeneration focus means that St. James’s Place can provide a younger adviser in the practice to talk to the younger members of a client family.
“Increasingly we see family wealth spread across generations,” Rayner says.
“The baby boomer generation, which has done well out of house price inflation and has lived through an era of corporate defined benefits pensions is reasonably affluent, but increasingly the pull on that wealth is greater because people are living longer. This generation has often had to deal with parents needing long term or nursing home care; having to pay for that and also begin thinking about possible future care for themselves. Meanwhile, the younger generations need access to further education and to get on the housing ladder. So there is money, but the demands on that money are also increasing.”
Rayner says that most St. James’s Place clients are in the firm’s range of portfolios which consist of external fund managers selected by the Investment Committee who are advised by a number of external consultants.
The firm has also been acquiring new businesses. 2016 saw the purchase of Technical Connection, which is the UK’s leading technical advice consultancy, focusing on tax and other technical issues within the financial planning process.
In conjunction with MetroBank, the firm has also a new focus on cash, having launched a cash deposit range.
“We estimate that our potential clients sit on over GBP1 trillion in cash in bank accounts and more often than not they are losing money in real terms,” Rayner says.
St. James’s Place has also partnered with Flagstone, a financial technology firm, to help clients maximise returns and diversify deposits between different banks through their cash management platform. The new platform enables clients to manage their money at the click of a button and increases the protection deposits afforded collectively by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
St. James’s Place discretionary fund manager, Rowan Dartington, also goes from strength to strength, allowing the firm to offer investment portfolio transfer facilities and specific stockbroking services.
“It’s a private client discretionary fund management business run independently within the St. James’s Place Group,” Rayner explains. “From a recruitment point of view, a lot of private client investment advisers have walked towards it and it has had lots of traction.”