“We want to use our clients’ money as a force for good,” states Sam Turner, who joined Shari Liu , at The Dilly Hotel in London prior to the evening screening at BAFTA. St. James’s Place (SJP), is one of the UK’s largest wealth managers, with over £142 billion worth of assets under management for over 900,000 clients. With such an extensive portfolio under management, where this is directed can have a huge influence on facilitating future sustainable practices.
“There are two reasons why we look at it (responsible investing) in wealth management,” explains Turner. “Number one is performance and its link to long term revenue and costs. The other is around being a responsible business, which we all have a duty to work towards.”
By his own admission, there has been a lot of jargon surrounding ‘green’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘Environmental and Social Governance’ which has perhaps hindered understanding of what responsible investing entails. However, there are much simpler ways to break it down.
“When we think about sustainability or being sustainable when we invest, what I’m really talking about is how any company, in any sector, will have sustainable risks and opportunities relevant to that business. As responsible investors, we want to work with companies to take these risks and opportunities into account in their decision making.”
SJP has three primary layers in its approach to responsible investment. The first is applied across all of its funds, from equities to fixed-income, to ensure there is a base layer of sustainability active in those investments. The second relates to more sustainable funds, focusing on the leaders and innovators in each sector driving sustainable solutions for the future. The third layer, which Sam labels Discretionary Fund Management, is a more bespoke approach in which companies within a portfolio are added or removed to be in line with the individual client’s values.
Probed on whether the pursuit of sustainable investments can detract from returns, Sam shared some positive insights into how the nature of these investments has changed over the last decade.
“It’s the age-old ESG question – does sustainability detract from returns? Ten years ago, most investors in this space where what I call ‘ethical investing’. This was about removing companies from your portfolio, and getting rid of certain sectors.
We’re in a period right now where there are actually lots of different approaches. Responsible investing, one such approach, is not about about removing sectors, but working with those companies to really drive change.”
“One of the ways SJP engages with companies is through the fund managers it works with to manage client investments. We make sure that all of our fund managers integrate responsible investing in some shape or form. We will not engage with a fund manager who is not a signatory of the UN Principles of Responsible Investment, so we have ablanket line of people that we will engage with. On top of that, we do a lot of due diligence to meet with those asset managers and get under the skin of how they’re looking at sustainability on our clients’ behalf.”
With 4,626 advisers working as Appointed Representatives of SJP across the Partnership, it is important to ensure each of these has a strong grip on how SJP implements sustainable practices in investments.
*FLM, the Partner Practice in attendance for the Top 100 event, was singled out by Turner as one of SJP’s largest Practices and leaders in helping clients manage their complex financial circumstances, whilst helping integrate sustainable investment into their portfolio.
FLM and their tax advisers are well-placed to help any individual with their complex tax situations, whatever they may be.
For Sam Turner, the SJP business model excels in how its advisers take the care to understand each individual and curate tailored plans to their needs.
“We are a large company, but where I think the business model works really well is we then specialise in very personalised face-to-face financial advice.
“I am a true believer that walking this through with someone, having a conversation is the best way to unpack what’s happening in the world of sustainability and responsible investing.
“My advice would be to go and have a conversation with one of our SJP Practices, such as FLM;, pick their brains about responsible investing, and understand the different approaches out there and how that links to your personal values and investments.
“Your money, your savings, and your investments can have a massive role in how you’re being sustainable in your everyday life.”
The value of an investment with St. James's Place will be directly linked to the performance of the funds you select and the value can therefore go down as well as up. You may get back less than you invested.
*FLM is an Appointed Representative of and represents only St. James’s Place Wealth Management plc (which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority) for the purpose of advising solely on the Groups wealth management products and services, more details of which are set out on the Group’s
website www.sjp.co.uk/products. The title ‘Partnership and Partner Practice’ are marketing terms used to describe St. James’s Place representatives. FLM is a trading name of Financial Lifestyle Management Ltd.