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SJP trainee banned for lying about qualifications

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SJP trainee banned for lying about qualifications

A former St James's Place (SJP) trainee adviser has been banned and fined by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for lying about qualifications and forging learning statements. 

The regulator issued Alexander Stuart with a £34,000 fine and prohibited him from performing 'any function in relation to any regulated activities carried on by an authorised or exempt person, or exempt professional firm'. 

The FCA outlined how, between 2014 and 2016, Stuart misled SJP and the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) by falsely claiming to have passed the necessary exams to earn a level 4 qualification.

An spokesman for the advice business said: 'SJP is committed to maintaining excellent professional standards and ensuring clients have access to the highest levels of knowledge and expertise. We take this responsibility very seriously and have stringent compliance procedures in place to address isolated incidents such as this.

'Action was taken to suspend Mr Stuart as soon as it became known that false statements and documents had been provided in relation to his qualifications. No financial detriment has been incurred by clients and he is no longer at the partner practice concerned.'

Stuart was approved by the regulator on 4 April 2014 to perform the CF30 function at SJP through appointed representative London-based Clearwater Wealth Management. 

Following the retail distribution review (RDR), all retail investment advisers needed a minimum of a level 4 qualification and a statement of professional standing (SPS) from an accredited body for independent verification.

Stuart was a trainee at the time and thus did not need an SPS, but was required to be supervised by a SPS holder. Advisers are required by the FCA to obtain the level 4 qualification within 30 months of starting employment in a trainee role.

In two meetings with his supervisor in December 2014 and April 2015, Stuart falsely claimed that he had passed the R04 and R02 exams respectively.

In November 2015, he claimed to the CII to have passed the R06 exam and received a learning statement containing record of his examination history, and further claimed it did not contain all of the exams he had passed. 

In December 2015, Stuart then forged a learning statement which falsely showed that he had passed R03, R04, R05 and R06, and gave a false statement to SJP asserting that he had attained the level 4 qualification. 

Stuart was rumbled by the CII in January 2016, when he attempted to deceive the professional body with a copy of the forged learning statement. A letter in return set out the allegations against him, leading to his suspension by Clearwater. 

He admitted to the allegations in September 2016 and was subsequently fined £34,000, a 30% reduction for settling at an early stage of the FCA's investigation.  

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