Exclusive: SJP drops ‘Wealth Management’ in brand refresh

St James’s Place (SJP) has fired the starting gun for a revamped brand image – the first upgrade since the firm was established in 1991.

Money Marketing has learned the company will drop the ‘Wealth Management’ part of its name to better communicate its offering.

The logo has been redesigned and will first be rolled out on the company’s website and social media channels.

It will take around 18 to 24 months or more for SJP to fully transition to the new look as it aims to minimise waste of existing materials.

SJP announced the move to its “community” of partners, employees and support function team this morning.

Chief executive Andrew Croft, along with managing director Ian Gascoigne, who will be stepping down at the end of March, and marketing director Claire Blackwell delivered the news.

Today was supposed to be the annual company meeting, in which the group comes together in person, but due to the pandemic it held a special broadcast instead to focus on this topic.

The wider company meeting is now expected to take place later in the year.

Money Marketing has seen examples of how the brand update will be communicated to clients

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Communication message

SJP is also making clients aware of the “refresh of its brand identity” in the annual wealth account statements being sent out to partners’ clients from today.

“We will inform people about why we’re making the changes and what they are,” Blackwell told Money Marketing.

She added: “I think it’s really important that our clients learn to trust the new wordmark – there is a new logo going out and over the year it will start to fall onto the client statements as they go through people’s mailboxes or inboxes.

“One of the things I’m keen to avoid is any client not understanding that change and wondering who is writing to them, so we’re starting with a big communication project to clients.”

SJP will be marking its 30th anniversary this year and says this is the first time the company has gone through a brand refresh.

“It’s quite surprising to a lot of people that we’re 30 years old – or 30 years young – as most assume SJP has been around longer,” Blackwell said.

“We’re not a Coutts and I think we need to represent ourselves as a younger brand. In its 30 years SJP has never actually gone through an exercise like this.

“It was a start up with three people and someone went to choose a logo. We started off with the J Rothschild Assurance Group name and obviously moved that to St James’s Place in 2000. But there was a name and a logo, a drive and a passion and a purpose and a culture.

“And this business has grown exponentially over those 30 years. But I think it’s been so exponential that there hasn’t necessarily been time to take out and say, ‘What do we want to look and sound like consciously?’ It’s just sort of happened. And what’s happened is what we look and sound like in the market is not actually who we are.”

She said the firm began an “extensive project” two years ago to determine and articulate what the company wants to be for clients and partners and where it wants to be in 10, 20 or 30 years.

“Brand drives a lot of those things”. The company felt it did not want to launch the refresh this time last year as there was “a lot more uncertainty” externally. But while there are still uncertainties in the world today, it generally feels “more optimistic”.

These changes express our robust heritage and reflect our strengths as an inclusive, responsible, and contemporary business. As you start to see our new look, I hope you feel as optimistic as I do about the future.

 – Andrew Croft chief executive, St James’s Place 

Acknowledging some people will question why it has taken two years, Blackwell said: “We are a FTSE 100 business, and we are a big business and we’ve never done this before. That all takes time but equally for it not to be a wallpapering over the cracks type of thing it has required us to go back through the proposition for everyone.”

SJP chose to work with design agency Landor & Fitch for the project. While Blackwell would not be drawn on the exact cost of the brand refresh, she hinted it is “probably a lot less than people would think.”

But she conceded: “Whatever it costs, I think there would always be people who would criticise it.

“It’s not a giant advertising campaign so it really not a glamourous number.”

She added: “When you hear about branding, rebranding, refreshing, whatever – the money is not actually in what we’ve done so far. It becomes expensive when you implement.

“We have decided we will implement in a business-as-usual fashion.”

Blackwell said the anticipated timeframe ahead is a “bit daunting” for a marketing director but a “big bang approach” would have been very expensive.

“It would require years of project management in order to coordinate that and it would result in a lot of wastage.”

Why drop the ‘Wealth Management’ part of name?

SJP marketing director Claire Blackwell told Money Marketing: “There are a couple of fundamental changes we are making. We’re going from St James’s Place Wealth Management to St James’s Place – so it’s not a name change, but we’ve dropped the wealth management descriptor off.

“It was very confusing to a lot of clients for us to be a wealth manager as well as a partner to a wealth manager.

“We want to be clear to clients that the wealth manager is their partner or adviser and we are sort of the engine behind that, supporting it.”

She added: “The other thing is wealth management is quite a loaded term. And I think many people do not consider themselves wealthy enough to need a wealth manager, whereas I think most people need to get advice.

“So, by dropping that term –  ‘does it make us more accessible?’ I hope so. ‘Does it mean more people get advice?’ I hope so.

“Plus, it’s cleaner and neater and I don’t think we need to have the wealth management on top. But what I should make clear is I do think it’s right for many businesses in the UK to call themselves wealth managers.” 

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