St James’s Place Review 2021

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St James Place are a FTSE100 wealth and fund management company in the UK.

This article will review the solution, and discuss the positives and negatives.

If you have been proposed this option, or are already in and aren’t happy, you can contact me via or WhatsApp (+447393450837)

For those that prefer visual content, this video summaries the funds and company.

Who are St James Place?

St James Place are originally a British company, and still have their HQ in the country, but also now have offices in Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai, targeting expats.

There are two ways to gain access to their funds. Firstly, you can invest directly with them.

Second, their funds are available on countless DIY platforms, especially in the UK.

In addition to fund and investment management, St James Place offer additional services, such as mortgages and protection products like insurance.

They claim that their advice is guaranteed and that adds compliance benefits, and to have won many awards.

They have over 4,000 advisors in the partnership, with 730,000 clients and billions of assets under management.

A lot of these assets have came in recently from mergers and acquisitions, both in the UK and overseas.

What are the typical costs?

The costs vary but typically are:

  1. Up to 5%-6% to get in — upfront cost.

There has been some contradictory information online, with some people suggesting that the upfront fee is included within the ongoing fees, and others saying that isn’t the case.

Either way, the fees are above the industry average, and this lack of transparency has caused a far bigger issue, with negative public relations and media reports.

One of the most prominent examples is the consumer advocate group, Which, that has criticised how opaque some of the fees are, whilst others have critiqued some of the trips and incentives for advisors.

Some of these claims are unwarranted or exaggerated, but there is certainly a lot of room for improvement.

Are the fees different within their funds?

Yes but not radically different. None of the funds can compete with low-cost ETFs or index trackers.

St James Place International Corporate Bonds cost 1.45% per year, which is quite cheap compared to most of the other funds.

In comparison, the SJP Global Smaller Companies costs 2.15% per year.

How have their funds performed?

The performance of their funds have been mixed. Some like the one below, have done OK:

One of their funds, SJP International Equity Fund, has performed very well in recent years, beating investment benchmarks.

Other funds have performed much worse, with 80%-90% lagging their competitors and benchmarks.

So your mileage varies with these funds and as the saying goes, past performance is no indication of future returns.

So their poorly performing funds might one day become their best “star performers”, and vice versa.

How about the St James Place portfolios?

St James Place doesn’t recommend that clients go into one or even two of their funds.

They have a portfolio which combines many options into one, and this takes into account clients attitude to risk and volatility.

Examples of these portfolios include:

1.SJP Defensive portfolio — this fund is in conservative investments and has often given negative returns. One reason for this is due to the weak performance of government bonds in recent times.

2. SJP Strategic Growth — a more adventures fund than the defensive portfolio, this option has typically given 4% per year. It includes equities and bonds within the same portfolio.

3. SJP Adventurous Portfolio– this has been one of their better options in terms of performance, with growth of about 7.5% per year. This is mainly in global equity markets and less in bond funds.

4. SJP deferred income — typically, the fund has given investors 4%-5% per year, and is aiming to give investors access to dividend growth.

5. SJP Balanced Portfolio — the balanced portfolio is a mixture of the defensive and adventurous options. Average performance has been OK, at about 5% per year.

6. SJP immediate income portfolio — This option has also given investors about 4%-5% per year, and is aiming at income generating portfolios.

7. SJP Balanced Income Portfolio — the performance for this option has been almost identical to the immediate income portfolio.

8. SJP managed funds portfolio — This has been the second best performing portfolio in the list, with returns of almost 7% in the last 5 years prior to the recent falls in the market related to corona virus.

9. SJP conservative portfolio — this option has performed similarly to most of the SJP funds in recent years, going up by 4%-5% per year.

Something to remember about these performances are that the global stock markets have had, on average, a good period in the last 10 years, with the exception of a few emerging markets and maybe the UK too.

So the average performance hasn’t been great with one or two exceptions, when you factor in this aspect into the equation.

What are the positives about this option?

The main positives associated with St James Place funds are:

  • As this is a well-regulated company, you are unlikely to face the worst case scenario. All advice is checked. Whilst this is the case with most companies these days, their compliance is relatively good

What are the negatives?

The main negatives associated with this option is:

  • The funds are neither cheap nor do they perform well compared to the benchmarks in general.

What was the Neil Woodford issue?

Neil Woodford was a “star fund manager” in the UK for years, beating the FTSE100 in the process:

He was seen as a safe manager to manage some of St James Place’s funds.

However, that came to an abrupt end, and St James Place dropped him from the funds he was managing, after Woodford’s funds were suspended.

That included the St James’s Place UK High Income and UK Equity Fund.

Whilst St James’ Place acted swiftly in this case, it does expose the ideas that they can do due diligence on “star fund managers” based on previous performance.

Past performance is seldom, if ever, a guide to future returns in the investment management business.

I am not implying that St James’ Place will have to make similar moves in the future with their current wealth managers, merely relying on previous star performers adds an extra layer of risk to the equation for investors.

What can you do if you have a SJP fund and you aren’t happy?

This partly depends on whether you simply own their funds on an external platform, or are a direct investor.

If you own one of their funds on an external platform, selling out should be easy.

If you have a portfolio with them directly, you might be able to sell out without any penalties, or partially sell out, but that will depend on countless factors.

Sometimes you will need to wait a few years to have complete access to the money.

How are SJPs funds likely to perform during a crisis?

One of the claims made for their funds is that they might underperform their benchmarks, but they won’t go down as far as the market, during periods of crisis like 2008 and 2020.

It is too early to tell how their funds will perform during the 2020 global pandemic, although it seems likely that they won’t fall as far as the general market, or rise as quickly once the situation improves.

During 2008, many of SJPs funds did little better than the overall market.

The data below is for their UK Equity Fund:

What are some of the biggest mistakes investors tend to make?

Many investors, the majority in fact, are more worried about losing something, than gaining.

This is called “loss aversion:

This is partly linked to sayings like “it is better the devil you know” and is one reason why “slightly disappointed” investors tend to stay long-term with numerous advisors firms.

This might seem rational, but ironically can lead to relative losses, compared to the alternative.

For example, if your account is worth 100,000GBP and you are currently making 4% per year, you could lose up to two millions over a 30 year period, by missing out on 6% yearly returns.

Another misconception is that lower volatility, or standard deviation to use the fancy term, automatically means less risk. That is a key mistake.

Finally, many investors are too reassured by size. Whilst this has changed in recent years, with more people preferring boutique operators, some people still prefer big multinationals.

In reality, size usually implies a lack of specialisation and tailoring. The analogy I would make is, you are much more likely to get better service from a boutique legal recruitment company specialising in just one area, than a big recruitment agency.

The same thing applies investing. Those within a niche are often better able to service your needs.


Whilst some of the worst reviews online aren’t fair or balanced, and St James Place aren’t a bad company, there are better funds and companies available for the majority of investors.

This applies to both the expats and UK market. In other words, lower cost, more transparent and tailored options exist.

For clients with existing St James’ Place assets, it therefore makes sense to review whether the money can be better deployed elsewhere.

Adam Fayed.

( or WhatsApp (+447747390822)



Owner at

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