Restricted national firm St James’s Place is looking into why one of its partners told a prospective client he provides independent advice.
In an email to a business owner seen by Money Marketing, an SJP adviser offers his advice services, and states he has a long history of being an independent financial planner.
He states he has helped similar organisations with “bespoke independent financial advice…for more than 18 years.”
The adviser says he is reaching out to the business owner because he may be able to help put together protection and pension plans for the business and its employees.
However, his FCA Register record, confirmed by SJP, shows he has been with SJP, and therefore restricted, since 2014.
Prior to that the partner worked as an IFA for a number of years, SJP notes.
When asked why one of its partners was claiming to offer independent advice an SJP spokesman said it is very clear on its status of its offering and is looking in to the case in question.
He says: “We are very clear that SJP partners offer a restricted advice proposition.
“This will be explained to clients during meetings with an adviser and within the literature they receive prior to investing.
“We are following up with the partner concerned.”
Money Marketing asked what compliance systems the company has in place to make sure advisers are not breaching the COBS 6.2A rule in the FCA handbook on describing advice services.
The spokesman says: “We have strict checks and balances in place to ensure compliance with our regulatory duties across all parts of the business.
“This includes communications to clients and potential clients, which are required to be reviewed by the business prior to being sent out.”
Last year consumer champion Which? ran an undercover investigation looking into how clear SJP advisers are about their restricted status with prospective clients.
Three of the 12 advisers in the investigation did not say they were restricted and some who did confirm their status played down the restricted/independent difference as a “technicality”.
SJP told Which? last year it does not believe “being restricted is in any way inferior to being independent”.
It said its advisers were trying to explain its “distinct approach to investment management” and that if advisers’ explanations dismissed the value of independent advice it was “regrettable”.