Asset manager St James’s Place starts hunting for new chief | Business news

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The director who spearheaded a bitter ‘cruises and cufflinks’ spat at one of Britain’s largest asset managers is preparing to step down.

Sky News has learned that St James’s Place, the FTSE-100 group that oversees more than £150bn of client assets, has launched a search to replace Andrew Croft.

City sources said Saturday that the company was working with Russell Reynolds Associates, the headhunter, on the search.

Mr Croft has worked for St James’s Place since 1993 and was head of finance between 2004 and 2017.

In 2018, he took over as CEO.

A source close to the company said there was “no rush” to find a new CEO, hinting that a transition to a successor could take more than a year.

St James’s Place caters to high net worth clients, with thousands of financial advisers known as partners to the firm, managing £153 billion in assets.

The company has faced questions about its recent performance, with Mr. Croft describes the recent quarterly net inflow as a “good” result, but many analysts take a different view.

It warned this year that it would miss a key spending growth target.

In 2019, St James’s Place became embroiled in a row over partners’ pay and perks, with benefits such as cruise holidays and jewelery being awarded to high-performing partners.

The regime was dropped after a review aimed at encouraging “the right behavior” amid concerns that partners were in fact being incentivized to mis-sell to customers.

News of the impending change in leadership at St James’s Place comes ahead of the introduction of a new consumer duty overseen by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Paul Manduca, the city’s mayor who presides over St James’s Place and previously headed Prudential, will oversee the hunt for Mr Croft’s successor.

The company rioted at its annual meeting this month when more than 20% of shareholders voted against its remuneration report.

Mr Croft received a total package of just over £3 million last year, with some investors annoyed that he was receiving long-term benefits linked to the low share price during the pandemic.

Partners at St James’s Place, based in Cirencester, are self-employed.

A spokesman for St James’s Place said over the weekend: “As part of its long-term succession planning, the council is in regular consultation with search firms to assess and monitor the market.

“This is in line with best practice corporate governance.”

Shares in St James’s Place closed up 7.5 pence to 1112.5 pence on Friday, giving the company a market value of £6.1 billion.

The stock is down 11% over the past 12 months.

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