February 27, 2020 / 7:27 AM / a month ago

St. James's Place full-year operating profit down 5% on flows, costs

LONDON (Reuters) - British wealth manager St. James’s Place (SJP.L) on Thursday posted a 5% fall in full-year operating profit in line with forecasts, after the pace of gross inflows of client cash slowed and costs linked to a technology upgrade increased.

Operating profit on a European embedded value basis, a key measure of performance that discounts future cashflows, was 952 million pounds, down from 1 billion pounds a year earlier.

That compared with a company compiled consensus expectation of 16 analysts for 955.9 million pounds.

“In the short term, our profit has been impacted by the more modest gross flows relative to the planned investment in the business for future growth,” Chief Executive Andrew Croft said.

Costs during the year were 38.8 million pounds, up from 35.8 million pounds a year earlier, largely as a result of the company’s move to a new technology platform.

Gross inflows of new client cash fell to 15.1 billion pounds from 15.7 billion pounds, although market gains helped net inflows end the year at 9 billion pounds.

After a tough year marked by broad political uncertainty in the UK and elsewhere, Croft said he was optimistic about future growth, particularly after a UK election in December brought some stability.

“This has consequently resulted in an increase in activity across the business with new investments seeing a return to good growth in the early part of 2020,” he said.

Reporting by Simon Jessop, editing by Sinead Cruise

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