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30 Apr 2020 | 07:51

St James's Place trims final dividend

(Sharecast News) - St James's Place withheld a third of its planned final dividend and put the payout decision for 2020 on hold until its annual results amid uncertainty created by the coronavirus emergency. Reporting first-quarter trading, the FTSE 100 wealth manager said 2020 would be a challenging year and that it was not immune from unprecedented uncertainty. St James's Place said it needed maximum financial flexibility for all scenarios.

"For this reason, and acknowledging the heightened regulatory sensitivity at this time, the board has decided to withhold 11.22 pence per share, or around one-third of the proposed 2019 final dividend, until such a time as the financial and economic impacts of Covid-19 become clearer," Chief Executive Andrew Croft said. "In addition, the board confirms that it will be making one dividend decision relating to the 2020 financial year and this will be made in February 2021 at the time of our full-year results."

In the three months to the end of March gross inflows rose 12% to £4.04bn and net inflows increased 9% to £2.37bn, representing 8.1% growth on opening funds under management. Business was boosted by increased activity early in the period after the Conservatives won a clear majority at the December election.

Closing funds under management fell to £101.7bn from £103.5bn after the Covid-19 crisis hammered share prices during March. St James's Place said its solvency position was strong.

Croft said: "2020 is shaping up to be another challenging year. Whilst our business is resilient, we are not immune to how the unprecedented level of uncertainty may impact the operating environment for the business and our clients for the foreseeable future."

St James's Place follows Sainsbury's, the UK's banks and about 30 other FTSE 100 companies in cutting, delaying or scrapping dividends during the financial crisis.

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