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Former Edward Jones adviser denies client solicitation

Former EJ adviser Stuart Hutton denied soliciting clients to move across to Raymond James in the aftermath of Towry’s acquisition of Edward Jones.

The former EJ adviser now with Raymond James, was being cross examined at the High Court yesterday by the claimant’s in the case where Towry is seeking £6m damages from Raymond James and seven former EJ advisers over alleged client solicitation.

Hutton said although some clients had followed him when he moved, it was their choice and based on the “strong personal relationship” he had with them.

Hutton said: “I have strong personal relationship with many of my clients due to my local office. Many of them told me that if I was to leave they would like to continue to work with me. I made it clear that it was their choice and I did not try to influence that. Many clients were concerned about my future as well.”

The claimants QC Adam Tolley accused Hutton of “sounding out” which clients would be most willing to move with him after an email correspondence between Hutton and Raymond James had showed Hutton referring to a “core” 55 clients.

QC Tolley later suggested Edward Jones was the owner of the client relationships and it was not right for Hutton to refer to them as his.

Defence QC Chris Quinn earlier alleged that following the departure of advisers from Edward Jones after the acquisition, some advisers were reallocated as many as 400 clients on top of their own. Quinn claimed it would take more than nine months to meet with these clients alone.

Quinn also alleged that some Edward Jones clients were still being sent correspondence from EJ advisers who were no longer with the firm and others had still not been contacted at all since the acquisition.

Hutton was the first of the defence witnesses to be called and will continue today. Barry Bennett, Pieter Burger, James Chandler, Wayne Hayhurst and Tracey Simpson are yet to be called.

Towry chief executive Andrew Fisher last week defended the non-dealing covenants imposed on advisers, but was accused of being “aggressive and threatening” to EJ advisers after the Towry acquisition.

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Comments

There are 3 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. I suppose that it would save to much by way of legal fees if someone just called about 20 clients to give evidence.

    Judge could simply listen to them give everyone else a flea in their ear and go home early for afternoon tea.

    These “client ownership” squabbles are pathetic. True clients build solid relationships and frankly make the decisions they do based on that strength.

  2. I suspect you will see more of these cases if Towry win this – based on the fact the pre-RDR more acquisitions will be made by big corporates and as such more advisers will want out of that situation.
    You cant sue clients for choosing to leave and that is what this amounts to.
    Corporates who take over these assets should be aware that they are buying nothing if the staff choose to exit.

  3. Have Towry told the clients that they “own them”? I imagine not as the client would soon put them right!!
    I agree with Darren, get the clients in and ask them. You’d quickly discover that most clients will just follow the adviser if there’s a good relationship.

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