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UK money manager St. James's Place says demand for advice 'stronger than ever'

UK money manager St. James's Place says demand for advice 'stronger than ever'
By Reuters
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By Muvija M

(Reuters) -Britain's St. James's Place said on Thursday that its funds under management and inflows surged in the March quarter as clients sought to commit savings to longer-term investments, and that demand for investment advice was stronger than ever.

SJP shares ticked up 2% to 13.49 pounds on the UK blue-chip index by 0732 GMT, extending a 17% increase so far this year.

Over the past few quarters, SJP has seen rising demand for its wealth-management services as more investors sought financial and retirement advice, while government stimulus during the pandemic also boosted sentiment.

That marked a turnaround from fund withdrawals by panicked investors in the initial months of the outbreak last year because of concerns over the economy.

"Although COVID-19 restrictions and economic uncertainty continue, the demand for trusted advice is stronger than ever," Chief Executive Officer Andrew Croft said.

Croft added that robust business from year-end tax planning took gross inflows for the quarter to 4.79 billion pounds.

Funds under management jumped to 135.46 billion pounds ($189 billion) surpassing the 129.3 billion pounds in the year-earlier period.

Net inflows rose slightly to 2.90 billion pounds from 2.37 billion pounds.

"Although ... this high growth rate might not follow in coming quarters, we believe that the growth in gross flows should continue in quarters to come," JP Morgan analysts, who have an 'overweight' rating on the stock, wrote in a note.

In October, activist investor PrimeStone Capital called for a broad overhaul of SJP's cost base. At that point, the company's stock had fallen 26% from a peak hit in February.

PrimeStone said the stock price had failed to reflect a doubling of client assets over the last five years, and spoke of a "bloated organisational structure, excessive hiring, excessive pay and mounting losses in Asia."

SJP has 22 offices across the UK and premises in Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai and Dublin.

($1 = 0.7165 pounds)

(Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Hugh Lawson)

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