Chris Ralph
2/7/2020
29/7/2022
Chris Ralph, Chief Strategist, St James's Place Wealth Management

As a FTSE 100 company, managing over £100 billion for 750,000 clients, St James’s Place (SJP) has been a great financial success story and today is the UK’s largest wealth manager. Chris starts by describing his journey, studying economics at Hull University, learning key early life lessons working first at Cazenove then Fidelity, before taking up the position as Chief Investment Officer for St James Place. During that period, 2009-2020, the market value of the company grew rapidly and today has a stunning 97% client retention rate.

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As a FTSE 100 company, managing over £100 billion for 750,000 clients, St James’s Place (SJP) has been a great financial success story and today is the UK’s largest wealth manager. Chris starts by describing his journey, studying economics at Hull University, learning key early life lessons working first at Cazenove then Fidelity, before taking up the position as Chief Investment Officer for St James Place. During that period, 2009-2020, the market value of the company grew rapidly and today has a stunning 97% client retention rate.

Chris describes the approach SJP has to building portfolios, through identifying and working with a range of global external managers across asset classes and styles. Unlike many wealth management firms, they use external Funds, do not select individual stocks, and have developed deep, long term relationships with fund managers to whom they have access.

He also discusses their approach to developing long-term relationships with clients and their families who are served by the SJP “partnership structure”.The conversation moves to the huge intergenerational wealth transfer taking place in the UK and the academy SJP run to train their advisors.

Career opportunities in the wider wealth management business in the UK is also discussed, referring to an earlier Money Maze Podcast where Schroder’s CEO, Peter Harrison refers to the shortage of trained advisors and the growing “advice gap”.

Chris goes on to talk about their approach to investing in private equity and debt, the challenges of active versus passive, and their approach to the growing demand from investors for more clarity in ESG matters.

A discussion follows about the SJP experience with the Woodford Funds, and then on defending the criticism sometimes made about SJP’s opaque fee structure.Finally Chris talks about his love of rock climbing and admiration for the climbing legends, and of his new passion, kite-surfing, which offers him the potential to be bruised both by markets and his main hobby!

Chris Ralph

Chris has worked in the Financial Services Industry for more than 35 years. His experience covers investment banking, fund management and wealth management, most recently for St. James’s Place, the UK’s largest wealth manager.

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