St James's Place Wealth Management has reported £2.3bn of net inflows during the last quarter of an 'extraordinary' 2020, which helped its funds under management soar to a  record high.

At the end of December, FuM stood at £129.3bn, an 11% increase over the 12-month period and a record for the business.

Total net inflows during the year amounted to £8.3bn, representing 7.1% of opening FuM, though this was lower than the previous year, when net inflows amounted to 9.4% of FuM.

Despite the strong performance, the firm said it would be "slowing the pace" of recruitment activity, particularly relating to experienced advisers.

Commenting on the impact of the pandemic on the business, chief executive Andrew Croft said: "In the final quarter of what can only be described as an extraordinary year for individuals, families, business and broader societies across the world, I am pleased to report that St James's Place delivered another robust set of new business results."

"Gross inflows for the quarter totalled £4.02bn, representing growth of 1% against the same period in 2019. For the year, gross inflows of £14.33bn are just 5% lower than 2019, which given the operating environment since March, bears testament to the resilience of our business and the determination of our entire community to support clients and each other through the global pandemic."

"We continued to achieve strong retention of client investments in spite of the unprecedented external conditions, resulting in net inflows of £8.25bn, representing 7% of opening funds under management. This net investment, together with positive investment returns experienced by our clients, provided for year end funds under management of a record £129.34bn, up 11% over the year."

He added: "Sensitive to the challenging external environment for many financial advice businesses across the UK, we decided to slow the pace of our experienced adviser recruitment activity and paused the intake of new 'students' to our Academy programme during the year."

"Despite this, continued strong adviser retention coupled with modest recruitment resulted in net adviser growth to 4,338 advisers."

"While the current lockdown restrictions remain in place, the operating environment will continue to be challenging."

"However, the quality of the partnership and the strength of our client proposition, together with the resilience of the St. James's Place community, underpins our confidence in the medium to long-term growth prospects of our business."

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