Baroness Morrissey, one of the City’s most prominent female figures, is quitting the board of St James’s Place after just 14 months to chair a rival in the wealth management industry.

Sky News has learnt that Baroness Morrissey, who was ennobled by Boris Johnson last summer, is being lined up as chairman of AJ Bell, the Manchester-based platform provider.

City sources said on Monday evening that the Conservative peer had accepted the role and had notified the board of St James’s Place of her intention to step down.

An announcement from both companies is expected later this week.

One insider insisted that Baroness Morrissey’s departure from St James’s Place was “amicable”, although she is said to have been keen on securing the chairmanship of the company last year prior to Paul Manduca’s appointment.

Her 14 months on the company’s board have not been without controversy.

In January last year, she shocked her new colleagues by criticising St James’s Place’s fee structure before she had even taken up the role.

Some industry executives described her remarks as “calamitous”, although others suggested that her remarks about the need to improve transparency in the sector were welcome.

In recent weeks, Baroness Morrissey has waded into the debate about the comeback plans of the disgraced fund manager, Neil Woodford, questioning whether he should be allowed to return to managing third-party money.

If confirmed, her appointment at AJ Bell will see her replace Les Platts, who has chaired the company since 2008.

AJ Bell has previously indicated that Mr Platts would step down in 2022.

The company has nearly tripled in value since it listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2018, and now has a market capitalisation of over £1.7bn.

It has seen assets under administration soar to £62.5bn, and now boasts more than 310,000 customers.

AJ Bell competes with other platform providers such as Hargreaves Lansdown and Interactive Investor, which is privately owned but is widely expected to float at some point.

An avowed Brexiter, Baroness Morrissey was made a Dame in 2017.

Often referred to as a ‘City superwoman’ as a result of her executive career and nine children, she is often quizzed by newspaper journalists about her fashion and style tips.

She spent more than a decade as chief executive of Newton Investment Management before quitting to join Legal & General as head of personal investing.

Her stint there was largely unsuccessful, and she left L&G after less than three years, with the FTSE-100 group later selling the business she had overseen to Fidelity.

Among the other senior roles Baroness Morrissey has held was the chairmanship of the Investment Association trade body.

Spokesmen for AJ Bell and St James’s Place declined to comment.

(c) Sky News 2021: Morrissey quits St James’s Place board after a year to chair AJ Bell


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