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Solicitor referrals must only be made to independent advisers, says SRA

The Solicitors’ Regulation Authority has confirmed that referrals of clients by solicitors for financial advice may only be made to independent financial advisers.

This follows claims from SIFA that solicitors are in some cases referring clients to multi-tied sales organisation St James’s Place.

Last month the FSA proposed a distinction between independent advice and restricted advice in its RDR consultation paper.

The SRA, the regulatory arm of the Law Society, says: “The SRA is aware that some law firms have been approached by multi-tied and tied advisers seeking to enter into restrictive arrangements to provide financial services to the law firms’ clients.

“Firms must always act in the best interests of their clients. This means that they must refer clients to independent financial advisers for investment advice.”

Sifa says confusion in the minds of solicitors as to the status of financial advisers has resulted in widespread breaches of the Solicitors’ Code of Conduct.

Sifa says it has received numerous calls from IFAs reporting instances of solicitors referring clients to St James’s Place.

It adds: “Where appropriate, this information has been passed to the SRA.”

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