(Corrects profit figures in fourth paragraph)
* Operating profit up 23 pct, cash up 20 pct
* Interim dividend of 18.49 pence a share
* Net inflows 5.2 bln stg; total assets 96.6 bln stg
By Simon Jessop
LONDON, Aug 1 (Reuters) - British wealth manager St James’s Place on Wednesday posted a 23 percent increase in operating profit, boosted by inflows of new client cash and a strong retention of existing customers.
SJP, which offers a range of investment and insurance services, said it continued to benefit from growing demand for face-to-face advice from affluent clients, particularly after rule changes in recent years that have given them more control over how they save for retirement.
Strong demand saw the group attract a net 5.2 billion pounds in new client cash in the six months to end June, up from 4.3 billion pounds a year earlier, taking total assets to 96.6 billion pounds, it said in a statement.
That helped operating profit on a European embedded value basis, which discounts future cashflows and is one of the main gauges of performance, climb to 489.6 million pounds ($641.77 million), up from 397.3 million pounds a year earlier.
The underlying cash on hand also rose strongly, up 20 percent to 147.1 million pounds, helping underpin a 20 percent increase in the interim dividend to 18.49 pence a share.
“Following last year’s exceptional growth, I am delighted to report continued strong growth across all key areas of our business,” Andrew Croft, Chief Executive, said. ($1 = 0.7636 pounds) ($1 = 0.7629 pounds) (Reporting by Simon Jessop, editing by Sinead Cruise)