Sifa slams St James’s Place recruitment letters

Solicitor IFA trade body Sifa has accused St James’s Place of making “distinctly misleading” claims that advisers who join the firm can continue to get solicitor referrals and is reporting SJP to the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

The SRA’s code of conduct states solicitors can only refer clients who need investment advice to “independent intermediaries”. It defines an independent intermediary as an IFA who can advise on investment products from across the whole of the market and offers a fee option.

As part of a recruitment campaign, St James’s Place regional manager of business acquisitions Darren Ginders has written to a number of advisers.

The letter, seen by Money Marketing, includes a section detailing “common misconceptions” about SJP.

Under the heading: “I will not be able to deal with my professional connections and as a result, I will lose new business enquiries”, Ginders writes: “This is incorrect. Despite the SRA’s rules, many partners are still able to maintain a successful business relationship with solicitors. In fact, any partners who are active in this arena usually prosper to a greater extent.”

Sifa received two complaints from member IFAs who received the SJP letter. Sifa managing dir-ector Ian Muirhead (pictured) wrote to Ginders, suggesting the statement is untrue and advisers who follow the advice would be “inciting infringement” of SRA rules.

An SJP spokesman says: “There is nothing to prevent a solicitor from referring a client to a partner for non-investment business, provided it is in the
best interests of the client.”

Muirhead says: “The paragraph quoted in the letter is distinctly misleading. We are aware that there are still firms giving regulated investment business to SJP salespeople. SJP is trying to keep this under the radar by suggesting they are not advising on regulated business. I will be reporting SJP to the SRA.”