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St James’s Place retreats on solicitor stance

St James’s Place has issued new guidance to its partner firms after the Solicitors Regulation Authority confirmed that solicitors can only refer clients seeking investment advice to IFAs.

SJP has conceded that its partner firms cannot provide investment advice to clients referred to them by solicitors.

The guidance issued by SJP acknowledges that the SRA views an independent adviser as one who can “advise on products from across the whole of the market and offers the client the option of paying fees”.

But it also stresses that solicitors can continue to refer clients to SJP partners for “a wide range of advice”, including advice on inheritance tax planning, trusts, business succession planning, long-term care, protection, general insurance and mortgages.

An SJP spokeswoman says: “Our guidance remains in line with the rules regarding solicitors’ introductions but we have updated it to take account of the further guidance issued recently by the SRA.”

Ian Muirhead, managing director of representative body for solicitor IFAs, Sifa, says: “This is a major step forward but the war is not yet over because SJP are still encouraging their salespeople to provide advice to solicitors on matters such IHT planning and trusts. It seems extremely unlikely that the salespeople for a company where 90 per cent of its income comes from the sale of its own investment products will be able to provide advice without also making a sale.”

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