SJP downplays Neil Woodford scrutiny

Wealth manager now says it has no plans to drop UK equities manager


St James’s Place has issued a statement reaffirming its confidence in Neil Woodford after its chief investment officer was quoted in the Financial Times stating it was scrutinising his management of one of its segregated mandates.

Woodford (pictured) manages £3.5bn for SJP, including £1.3bn in the SJP UK High Income fund alongside the UK Equity and Income Distribution life funds.

In a piece published in the FT on Friday, Chris Ralph said: “We are always reviewing our managers but we have got the microscope more intently focused on what’s going on in Woodford at the moment.”

Some clients had also asked to be moved out of the Woodford-managed fund, resulting in £200m outflows over 18 months, the FT reported.

‘No plans to change his mandate’

However, in a written statement issued on Tuesday, Ralph appeared to downplay the comments made to the FT.

His statement in full said: “We remain confident in Neil Woodford and his ability to manage our clients’ money as mandated. We continue to monitor his investment footprints, as we do with all our investment managers, on a regular basis as usual.

“Neil has delivered exceptional returns over the past 30 years and we continue to support his proven long-term investment philosophy. We have no plans to change his mandate.”

SJP UK High Income has lost investors 9.7% compared to 2.5% losses in the FTSE All Share, according to FE Analytics. The life funds have delivered worse performance both falling more than 12% over the period.

SJP has previously been criticised for failing to flag to clients when it is keeping a closer eye on managers.

Woodford assets dwindle

The segregated mandates represent an increasing proportion of the £10.1bn managed by Woodford Investment Management, which has suffered 22 months of consecutive outflows.

In April, Portfolio Adviser revealed Quilter Investors would be merging the UK Equity Income II segregated mandate Woodford had run into its UK Equity Large-Cap Income fund run by Adrian Frost at Artemis.

Assets in that mandate had dwindled to £91.8m by the time Woodford was dropped.

Portfolio Adviser sought information from SJP about alternative UK equity mandates it offers to clients dissatisfied with Woodford and was referred to a list of 99 unit trusts and 77 life products on its website.

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