* Total funds under management 79.8 bln stg
* Retention of client funds at 95 pct
* Investment returns help underpin asset rise
(Adds analyst quotes, share price reaction)
By Simon Jessop
LONDON, April 25 St. James's Place took
in 2 billion pounds ($2.56 billion) in net new money in the
first quarter, the British wealth manager said on Tuesday,
boosted by demand for pension and savings products.
St James's, which focuses on providing face-to-face
financial planning for wealthier clients, said positive
investment returns also helped support a rise in assets, sending
its shares higher.
Group funds under management rose to 79.8 billion pounds at
the end of March from 62 billion a year earlier. They were
underpinned by strong retention of clients funds at 95 percent,
it said in a statement.
"Looking ahead, whilst political and macro uncertainties
persist, the more immediate concern for many people relates to
personal financial matters," outgoing Chief Executive David
At 0706 GMT, shares in St James's Place were up 0.5 percent
in a flat FTSE 100.
Shore Capital analyst Eamonn Flanagan said the results were
"terrific", with flows and total assets ahead of both his and
consensus expectations. In a note to clients he reiterated a
'buy' recommendation and 1,115 pence price target.
"The SJP model... is flourishing and is likely to continue
to do so, in our view. Political uncertainty, regulatory changes
and persistent tweaking of the tax and pension regimes in the UK
delivers the conditions for SJP to thrive."
Gross inflows were up 32 percent to 3.2 billion pounds,
while investment returns added a further 2.8 billion, it said.
Demand to access tax-free savings into the end of the tax
year helped support gross flows, with 1.2 billion pounds
invested into its unit trusts and individual savings accounts,
up 46 percent on the year.
JPMorgan Cazenove analyst Ashik Musaddi said St James's was
well positioned to grow new business sales by 15-20 percent a
year, in a note to clients reiterating an 'overweight' rating on
At the end of March, 23 percent of the firm's investments
were in UK equities, with a similar amount in U.S. stocks, 17
percent in fixed interest and 12 percent in European equities,
($1 = 0.7815 pounds)
(Reporting by Simon Jessop; editing by Rachel Armstrong and