SJP rejects mis-selling and forgery allegations

A client reported the firm to the Ombudsman over doctored documents

SJP

St James’s Place (SJP) has rejected allegations of wrongdoing after an investigation by The Sunday Times accused a financial adviser who is part of its network of misleading a client and forging documents.

Daniel Walton, director of Wakefield-based Regency Financial Planning, told a client that her previous adviser had retired, when that was not the case, according to the newspaper.

He then persuaded her to move her savings, amounting to more than £60,000, from investment firm Skandia to SJP in order to keep receiving advice.

The transfer landed the client with a capital gains tax bill. She claims Walton did not tell her she could have avoided the tax charge if she moved the money in instalments.

The unnamed client then complained to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

Alleged doctoring

The documents Walton provided the FOS did not match the ones the customer was given.

They show additional tax advice regarding the capital gains tax bill and, according to the client, a forged signature.

However, SJP told Portfolio Adviser that it rejects any allegation that the documents were forged, or that doctored files were gives to the Ombudsman. It claimed that the allegations are “simply not true”.

A spokesman for the company said SJP was unable to comment further due to data protection rules, as it did not have the client’s permission to do so.

Walton is still working at Recency Financial Planning.

Portfolio Adviser contacted the FOS for comment, but it said that the Ombudsman would refer the matter to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) if it had concerns about the business.

Willis Owen head of personal investing Adrian Lowcock said: “In general any financial adviser worth their salt, and that in my experience is the majority of them, are generally very clear about any loss of benefits or potential tax implications that may be involved in any of the recommendations they make to clients, usually with a preference of avoiding  creating a tax bill for them.

“If the complaint is founded then procedures need to be reviewed and tightened, motives of the individual for the action needs looking at as well as whether any company incentives are leading to incorrect decisions.”

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