SJP system failure leaves clients stranded

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Problems with the back office system at St James’s Place mean clients are being prevented from transferring away from the wealth manager.

The issues with the back office system mean clients are unable to access written information on their investments and are facing severe delays to withdraw cash.

The problems relate specifically to its new back office system, called Blue Door, which it installed last October.

The system outage means written information on client Isa and unit trust holdings cannot be sent to investors.

Advisers report that the written information can only be sent to an SJP email address and not distributed more broadly.

Another adviser has reported waits of up to 45 days before SJP will reply to queries for client information.

In particular the tech failure is stopping clients moving away from SJP. Those clients with letters of authority from a new adviser are being prevented from accessing their investment holdings information, meaning new financial plans cannot be drawn up.

Advisers are also reporting waits of up to five weeks for cash to be transferred from client SJP accounts.

Plan Money director Peter Chadborn says: “No adviser is going to feel comfortable formulating any advice if they are not 100 per cent confident in the accuracy of the information they are basing their advice on. It puts non-SJP advisers and SJP clients in a very difficult position where clients may be seeking a second opinion but can’t get one until this problem is fixed.”

Informed Choice executive director Nick Bamford says he has experienced delays in transferring clients from SJP.

He says: “It is frustrating if you are dealing with clients with a letter of authority, the file on what they have got invested sits around for six weeks before we can do accurate reporting for the client.

“I don’t think bigger organisations really fully understand that it impacts the delivery of service to the client when the process of moving paper from one place to another takes so long.”

SJP declined to comment on the specific faults with the system, but says it is working on the problems.

In a statement, SJP says: “At the end of October we upgraded some of our back office systems with a view to improving our service delivery.

“Unfortunately, in the short term there have been some bedding-in issues causing delays in some aspects of our service. We sincerely apologise to any clients impacted by these issues and would like to assure them that they are temporary.”

However, SJP was not able to state when the problem will be fixed.

SJP decided to consolidate its back office system last year, from a number of providers into one supplier, IFDS.

IFDS declined to comment, saying it is company policy not to speak about client affairs.