St James's Place sales tactics under fire

Pedro Gonçalves
St James's Place sales tactics under fire

St James's Place (SJP) advisers are encouraged to play down the impact that charges can have on returns to investors, the Sunday Times reports.

Internal documents provided to the Sunday Times, including the firm's  Field Management Handbook, reveal illustrated guide that shows how fees should be presented to the advice giant's clients.

In nine graphics, advisers are shown how they should explain costs to the client as a single charge. Another two illustrations represent how the fees appear to just be a small piece of the overall investment. The guide also sets out a price comparison that shows SJP fees to be below average in the market.

The St James's Place Partnership Handbook, also seen by the paper, details the central pool of funds that SJP collects from advisers for being part of the firm as a proportion of their fees, and how advisers can end up owing SJP interest if they fail to draw in enough customer cash every year.

SJP, which manages £109.3bn of savers' money, has been criticised for its high charges. In one example, someone who placed £1m with SJP over 20 years could see almost £1m being taken in fees from investment growth.

Also revealed in the files is how managers can earn a place at the company's coveted overseas conferences. 

These trips have previously included the likes of Venice and Monte Carlo, and the handbook seen by the paper also gives guidance on how advisers can ensure they pay the right tax on the benefit.

The handbook reads: "You will be asked to keep records and submit a log of all business activities undertaken during the...overseas conference, which will assist in reducing taxable benefit…incurred."

An SJP spokesperson said that "the wording that the Sunday Times refer to is not in any current edition of this document".

Independent MP Frank Field (pictured) is calling on all financial advisers, including networks such as St. James's Place, to disclose their costs and charges upfront.


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