Towry chief executive Andrew Fisher has denied claims the firm is the “enemy of the consumer” because of the 12 month non-dealing covenants it imposes on its advisers.
Speaking at the High Court in London yesterday, Fisher (pictured) said the covenants are needed to ensure the firm has enough time to explain its proposition and cement client relationships without outside commercial interference.
Fisher was being questioned by the legal team representing Raymond James and seven ex-Edward Jones advisers Towry is suing for almost £6m over alleged client solicitation.
Towry is claiming the seven former Edward Jones advisers breached non-solicitation clauses in their restricted covenants and solicited clients after declining to become Towry employees following the national IFA’s acquisition of Edward Jones for £1 in October 2009. Towry is claiming £5.8m in damages.
The defendant’s QC Chris Quinn asked Fisher whether Towry was the “enemy of the consumer” because it was seeking to “fetter the consumer’s freedom of choice” by preventing them to deal with their adviser should they leave Towry.
Fisher said: “Towry is looking to do the best for consumers through its people, its infrastructure and its training, in order to be able to do that without suffering from unfair commercial interference we enter into contractual arrangements with our employees. The reason it is 12 months is because we feel that gives us enough time to explain the proposition, what we do and cement our relationship without the client going elsewhere and ending up in the wrong place as we see it.”
Fisher earlier said that clients had not signed contracts with the former Edward Jones advisers, but with Edward Jones itself.
Fisher was also asked about his unpopular coverage in the trade media and Quinn QC suggested that had a consumer seen press coverage highlighting this they would be less likely to want to invest with Towry.
Fisher’s cross examination will continue today at 2pm today. Towry head of strategic marketing David Middleton was the first to take the witness stand on Thursday last week and was followed by head of wealth advice Andrew Cowan, head of employee proposition Alex Rickard and finance director Paul Wright.
The court also heard that Fisher’s 20 per cent share in Towry could be worth as much as £160m in the event of an Initial Public Offering.