A senior St James’s Place adviser is marketing herself as a specialist who takes referrals from solicitors, despite regulation that specifies solicitors can only refer clients to IFAs for investment advice.
In July last year, the Solicitors Regulation Authority confirmed the rules for solicitor referrals following claims from the representative body for solicitor IFAs, Sifa, that solicitors were in some cases referring clients to SJP.
In August, SJP was forced to issue new guidance to its partner firms reiterating that solicitors can only refer clients to intermediaries for investment advice although referrals for non-investment advice can still be made.
SJP senior partner Janine Edwards claims on her web-site to specialise in working closely with professionals, such as solicitors and accountants.
It states: “Janine works closely with a number of law firms in many specialist areas to mutual benefit, with Janine and the law firms both referring clients to each other.”
The website claims this work includes offering investment advice to estate beneficiaries and advice on investments, income and pensions after a divorce.
An SJP spokeswoman says: “Our partners regularly work with other professionals in meeting our clients’ needs. On occasion these professionals ask us to work with them with their own clients where they deem it appropriate. It is the solicitor who decides whether or not to make a referral to St James’s Place.”
Sifa managing director Ian Muirhead says: “SJP often claims it is not giving regul-ated advice to clients referred to them but I find that very hard to believe.
“It is like admitting to smoking but not inhaling. Some of these sales staff are in denial.”
Syndaxi Chartered Financial Planners managing director Rob Reid says: “The wording on the website implies that the referral service includes regulated investment advice.”
A Solicitors Regulation Authority spokesman says: “Solicitors should refer clients only to independent intermediaries where they need investment advice.”