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Adviser’s strike-out bid fails as non-dealing case goes to court

An adviser has lost an application to strike out a court case brought by his former employer which alleges that he breached non-solicitation, non-dealing and non-competing clauses in his contract.

Adviser Jonathan Fisher lodged the strike-out application against his former company, SFIA.

The application was heard by Master McCloud at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on March 29.

The case will now proceed to Manchester District Court where it will be heard in June or July.

Fisher left SFIA in May last year to join Cheshire-based Chartwell Financial Services. Within weeks of his departure, 72 clients with assets totalling £6m under advice moved to Chartwell.

SFIA is suing Fisher for damages in the region of £100,000, claiming that he breached his contract, which it says included non-dealing, non-solicitation and non- competing contract clauses.

Fisher argues that he did not solicit the clients but they chose to come with him after learning of his move.

SFIA says Fisher was ordered to pay £1,800 for its legal costs incurred for the strike-out application.

Fisher declined to comment.

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Comments

There are 6 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. As one former firms famous/infamous MD once stated to the Advertising Standards Authority – “No one can own a client, servicing rights and ongoing service are the gift of the client”

    If this guy has letters or evidence of contact from former clients asking him to continue to service their business he needs to put that in front of a judge.

    Too many of these big boy firms try to intimidate and bully former advisers, a clause in a contract of employment or agency which includes such terms is an unfair contract term, it would have been more sensible to keep the adviser on board than alienate him to the point he no longer wished to represent the firm, the firms claim only goes to show, he was probably right to leave such a litigious and arrogant firm, who obviously did not communicate properly with their clients as to their ongoing service proposition. Man up SFIA and get real, this is a market place and clients can choose who they wish to advise them, obviously your firm did not step up to the mark.

    I am glad I don’t work for such a firm.

  2. Lawyers win again. Sad and so very, very unnecessary. Makes me wonder what will happen post RDR when clients have a right to switch off “trail”…..

  3. David Trenner - Intelligent Pensions 12th April 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Ned, I don’t know the facts any more than you do, but suppose the clients were existing clients of SFIA before Fisher joined them; would that change your view? And suppose Fisher only looked impressive to the clients because he was able to use SFIA’s back office systems and admin team?

    The guy signed a contract. Is this meaningless?

  4. Surely it depends on where the client relationship started. Did the adviseer bring the client to the firm or was the client introduced to the adviser by the firm. In the former case then I agree the relationship should be recognised as belonging to the adviser. If the later then they have a case to protect their commercial interests?

  5. Many advisers spend years nurturing client relationships and tailoring their services to the clients’ needs. Then the employer sells the business to a downmarket brand (e.g. Thinc – remember them?, Towry) or decides that the only way to build up value in the business is to bung it all onto Elevate and manage the money centrally with 2 or 3 generic portfolios. It is essential to ensure that investment advice is consistent across the company but many clients do not want generic portfolios. So, regardless of whether a client was taken into a business or not, if an adviser has to leave to continue providing the service that a client wants, that client will follow.

  6. As a practice owner (as I am) this really is a tough one to call.

    From a business point of view its very hard to see the revenue walk out the door and even harder to have to pay the clawbacks.

    But one thing should be bourne in mind the client will follow his or her adviser FACT !! even if the client was aquired through the company

    So all the contract signing will not alter a thing.

    Advisers move its a fact, we benefit when they join and when they leave we dont !!

    One thing that really gets me is we cant get any refund on the FSA fees we pay if they go mid term.

    Would novations help ? not sure !!

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