January 24, 2019 / 7:28 AM / a year ago

St. James's Place inflows cushion asset drop, shares up

LONDON (Reuters) - British wealth manager St James’s Place (SJP.L) beat forecasts for net inflows of client cash in a tough fourth quarter for global markets, sending its shares higher.

While total assets fell 5 billion pounds on weaker market returns, net inflows hit 2.6 billion pounds as clients continued to seek its face-to-face advice on a range of services from pensions to investments and tax planning.

That was in line with a company-supplied consensus forecast of 19 analysts and helped send St James’s Place shares up 1.7 percent in early trade.

“Against the particularly difficult market conditions that prevailed in the final quarter... I am pleased to report another good set of results that demonstrate the resilience of our business,” Chief Executive Andrew Croft said in a statement.

At the end of December, total assets stood at 95.55 billion pounds, down from 100.59 billion pounds at the end of September, it said, after market losses of 7.6 billion pounds.

The end of 2018 was tough for many markets around the world as concerns about tightening monetary policy and economic growth spurred a slide in stocks that left many indexes nursing their worst losses since the financial crisis.

With other markets also falling, there proved few places to hide for many asset managers, prompting profit warnings and cost-cutting plans from many.

Calling the performance for the full year “robust”, with 12-month net inflows up 12.3 percent and total funds up 5 percent, Croft said the firm’s clients were “not immune to such external market factors.”

While challenging market conditions can slow the pace of fund inflows, Croft said a growing need for advice meant the company was confident it would meet its medium-term growth plans.

Reporting by Simon Jessop; editing by Sinead Cruise and Jason Neely

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