St James’s Place is a wealth manager offering clients a personalised financial advice service to establish their financial goals and a financial plan to help them make those goals a reality.
They offer a great service for anyone looking to invest towards their future and offer the security of being an established and listed company. However, this can be a costly service so it would mostly benefit those with complex finances and some savings already in place.
Also consider: Find the best financial advisors for your needs
Capital at risk.
A report conducted by the ILC  concluded that people who took out financial advice would end up £47,000 more affluent than those who didn’t after 10 years. And one of the most surprising statistics was that this was especially true for less affluent people.
There is a cost involved, and this has acted as a deterrent for many who believe financial advice to be just for the super-wealthy. But the same research revealed that the value of the advice was in excess of 2,400% greater than the initial cost of the advice.
So this would suggest that regardless of your current financial circumstances, financial advice is worth considering. However, choosing the right financial advisor can be difficult.
St James’s Place are the UK’s largest financial advisor, offering a range of products and services to help their clients achieve financial well-being. However, they are not necessarily the cheapest service available which is why I’ve taken the time to conduct this review and establish whether this service is worth the initial outlay.
St James's Place Ratings
- Ongoing, personalised wealth management solutions
- Highly rated financial advice
- Rated 4.9/5 on Vouched For
- Restricted advice
- Limited protection from FSCS
Who are St James’s Place?
St James’s Place are a network of over 4,626 qualified financial advisors who form part of the largest wealth management company in the UK advising clients on investments, pension planning, mortgages, protection, and financial well-being.
Who owns St James’s Place?
St James’s Place have been listed on the London Stock Exchange since 2013 with 100% of shares freely traded.
St James’s Place product range overview
The financial advice you receive at St James’s Place will lead to tailored solutions for investing, protecting, and managing your wealth.
According to the Investment Association, St James’s Place currently manage 9.8% of the total £1.4 trillion currently invested in UK retail funds, making them the largest financial advisory firm in the UK with almost 5,000 partner advisors offering their expertise to more than 900,000 clients. They aim to provide a completely tailored service by taking the time to understand your individual circumstances.
You can expect to be matched with a local advisor or ‘Partner’ who you will maintain an ongoing relationship with. Your advisor will take the time to understand your unique requirements, including income, debt, family, assets, tax liabilities, long-term and short-term financial goals, and lifestyle to name a few. They will then work closely with you to establish a financial plan which includes recommending products and services to help you achieve your goals and maintain your lifestyle.
St James’s Place has good first-hand reviews of the advisors they partner with. However, it is important to note that this would count as restricted advice as Partners are limited to advising clients to take out SJP products and services. Obviously, this is not ideal, as an independent financial advisor would provide unbiased advice on all the products and services available to you. This could result in a better option.
The main objective for your financial advisor will be to grow and protect your wealth in line with your goals. This is a long-term endeavour which I have gone into in more detail below.
Keeping in mind your goals and timelines, your advisor will recommend a long-term investment strategy, designed to get you to where you want to be. This includes identifying the most tax-efficient investment account for you whether it be an ISA or a personal pension.
Here’s where the level of advice you receive can get a little sticky. St James’s Place advisors are limited to St James’s Place accounts and funds. Meaning that they can’t access the whole of the market in order to find the best product for you at the best possible price.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t get a good service.
There are a number of asset classes available when it comes to investing and which of these is most suited to your circumstances will be identified by your advisor. Options include
These asset classes can be grouped together into investment funds. The funds are individually designed to meet different financial goals, depending on your appetite for risk, investment time, and financial goals.
Your investment decisions will be made by your advisor from the following investment products:
- Investment bond funds
- Investment ISA
- Unit trust funds
- Offshore investments
Whilst your advisor will recommend specific funds to you, you should expect to be invested in a range of different funds in order to mitigate your exposure to risk.
This is a much more personalised service than you would get with an investment app, however, you could expect an investment app to be a cheaper option. Whether you end up with more money as a result of this bespoke service will depend on the performance of your funds.
Retirement planning is crucial to establish when you can retire and how much you will need to do so in order to provide a decent income. St James’s Place offer a bespoke service to help you plan for and achieve your ideal retirement. As part of their ongoing service, they will also make adjustments as you approach retirement age and as you go through retirement, ensuring your level of risk is in line with your age and lifestyle.
St James’s Place offer a four-step retirement package that covers:
- Saving for your retirement
- Reviewing your savings
- Drawing down your pension
- Planning your legacy
This all sounds great, however, it’s important to point out that yet again you will be restricted to SJP’s own pension funds and therefore the value of your investment will rely solely on the performance of those funds.
The other thing to bear in mind is the cost which can range between 1.67% and 2.76% and there can be additional performance-related fees on top. This is quite expensive and could end up costing you quite a bit of money in the lead-up to your retirement.
The pension and bond products also come with some exit fees so if you go down this route, you will want to ensure you can stay with SJP for the duration of your life.
Often overlooked, protection is about securing the peace of mind that you and your family will be well looked after should the worst happen, be that death or an inability to work.
There are three main areas of protection to consider, protecting your income, life assurance, and critical illness cover.
Income protection will ensure that you and your dependents will still receive some or all of your income should you be unable to work due to an accident or illness. People will often insure their homes, however, your income is likely to be your most valuable asset and therefore deserves protection. Expert advice in this area can be invaluable and provide complete peace of mind.
At St James’s Place they can help ensure you leave adequate provision for your beneficiaries in the event of your death with a tax-free lump sum. This comes in two forms, term assurance and whole-of-life assurance. Which of these is most suitable for your circumstances will be professionally established.
Getting professional advice in this area can make a substantial difference to the amount your family will receive and how much the taxman will get. The importance of tax advice should not be underestimated as navigating the tax landscape can be tricky.
Critical Illness Cover
This can provide you and your family with a lump sum should you be diagnosed with a critical illness and become unable to work. Again, the financial advisors will be able to take you through the level of cover to ensure you don’t suffer financially.
St James’s Place Wealth Management for Multiple Generations
Whilst there has been a degree of dissatisfaction among clients at the performance of investment funds, the advisory services are generally highly regarded, with a strong emphasis on some of the individual advisory partners. There is no exception to this when it comes to wealth management for multiple generations.
This can help the struggling generations benefit from the security of the older generations now in retirement, who are often the wealthiest generation in society. Rather than waiting for wealth to be distributed after death, this approach can help to mitigate tax and alleviate financial burdens.
Banking and mortgages
This can cover a number of areas, and mistakes here can be costly. St James’s Place will provide a completely tailored service that will align with your financial goals in order to ensure your future is taken care of including
- Cash management
- Finding the best accounts
- Foreign exchange
- Private banking
St James’s Place Fees
Whilst you can expect to pay around 2.5% per year as an ongoing cost, I will attempt to break this down for you as much as possible. To put this charge into perspective, the industry average is 2%.
This is the cost of your individual advisor, including face-to-face advice charges and ongoing charges for regular contact.
The initial cost of this advice will come to 4.5% of your initial investment and includes your initial discussion, investment recommendations, and a follow on review.
For ongoing account management, you should expect to pay around 0.5% per year.
This is a management fee for the ongoing costs involved with holding and managing your investments. The amount you pay will depend on the product you have but can be broken down as follows:
- ISA & Unit Trust account frees – 0.5% set up cost
- Pension account fee – 1.5% set up cost and 1% ongoing cost
Additional costs include an early withdrawal fee should you decide to withdraw or move your pension within the first 6 years. This is very hefty at 6% in the first year and 5% in the second year, reducing by 1% each year.
Therefore, if you are approaching retirement age – you should definitely take this into consideration.
These are basically the fund fees which is a fairly standard fee regardless of how you invest. However, these are deducted from the fund and are therefore not really noticeable. The fee you are charged will vary depending on which fund you are invested in.
St James’s Place customer service review
At St James’s Place you will be matched with your own financial advisor who will provide you with ongoing service. In addition, there is a customer support team.
Support can be obtained by phoning the relevant number, or requesting a call back using the online form found on their website.
I tested their phone service and can confirm that calls are answered promptly with professional staff on hand to help with your enquiries. The lack of email and phone support is a shame as this can be a useful reference.
St James’s Place safety
St James’s Place is the largest financial advisory firm in the UK and is listed on the London Stock Exchange. In addition, they have all the appropriate regulations.
You have nothing to be concerned with when it comes to safety at St James’s Place. In fact, this could be considered one of the safest firms for UK residents seeking financial advisory services.
St James’s Place is authorised and regulated by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority in addition to the Central Bank of Ireland.
Customers also enjoy protection from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme up to the value of £85,000 and for 100% of your pension.
One of the disadvantages of only having your money with St James’s Place investment products is that the protection you receive from the FSCS is capped at £85,000, whereby if your fund were held with various providers, you would enjoy this cover with each of the providers.
Who is St James’s Place suitable for?
St James’s Place would be a good option for those seeking financial advice from a long-standing establishment that is publicly listed with excellent regulation.
Useful Information about St James’s Place
This section contains useful information to make your experience at St James’s Place as seamless as possible.
How do I contact St James’s Place?
St James’s Place can be contacted using the call back form on their website or by calling 01285 640302.
How do I withdraw money from my St James’s Place?
Your advisor will be able to help you close your investments and withdraw your funds. However, I would urge anyone looking to withdraw their pension to be aware of the early withdrawal penalty fees that are applicable in the first 6 years of opening a pension with SJP.
Is St James’s Place a reputable company?
St James’s Place is the largest financial advice firm in the UK and are rated 4.9/5 on VouchedFor and 4.5/5 on Trustpilot.
Whilst their service is often deemed excellent, some reviews are lamenting the poor performance of their funds. It is prudent to point out that at the time of this St James’s Place review, the stock market is experiencing a period of volatility across the board.