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Shalton leaves Guardian Wealth Management

by William Robins on Nov 08, 2012 at 14:16

Shalton leaves Guardian Wealth Management

Former Institute of Financial Planning (IFP) president Marlene Shalton has left Guardian Wealth Management five months after joining from Bluefin.

Shalton joined Guardian in June having previously worked at AXA-owned national IFA Bluefin.

In a statement Guardian chief executive David Howell said: 'Marlene is longer at Guardian and for professional and legal reasons I am unable to comment further.'

In October New Model Adviser® reported that AXA had alleged Shalton solicited clients after leaving Bluefin.

Shalton (pictured) left Bluefin to become managing director of financial planning practice at Guardian, responsible for converting the firm’s worldwide network of advisers to financial planning.

Shalton was unavailable for comment at the time this was story was published.

30 comments so far. Why not have your say?

Joe King

Nov 08, 2012 at 14:38

Watch the door on your way out!

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l'ifa passeport en provenance de France

Nov 08, 2012 at 14:39

axa what her clients back

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peter davies

Nov 08, 2012 at 14:51

a twisted web?

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Man in Black

Nov 08, 2012 at 14:53

That must be the translation: she couldn't deliver any clients to Guardian because Axa's lawyers were on top of her?

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Mark Stokes

Nov 08, 2012 at 15:14

For whatever reasons things have clealy not worked out. There are real people involved on both sides.

Please let's not forget that Marlene has given many years excellent service to this industry. Supported the IFP over many years, to the extent of risking her own money a couple of years back.

I am sure we all wish Marlene well and will see her back doing what she does best in the near future.

Guardian should also be aplauded for trying to raise the bar where there client offering is concerned and I hope they stay the course.

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peter davies

Nov 08, 2012 at 15:35

Mark, we most definitely don't forget the work Marlene has done with the IFP. However, although I am not aware of the circumstances involved here, one must remember that if one receives payment for their clients and signs a non-solicitation clause then that agreement must be adhered to.

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Nov 08, 2012 at 15:47

Real losers in these debacles are of course the clients .

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Sean Condon

Nov 08, 2012 at 15:53

Peter Davies - "However, although I am not aware of the circumstances involved here..."

And yet still you feel the need to comment.

These blogs are one thing when it is an industry issue and everyone can have an opinion, but when an article is so clearly about an individual and so clearly does not present all of the information, my heart sinks with the speed with which 'fellow professionals' are happy to jump in two footed and make really petty points.

Pat yourselves on the back, boys!

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peter davies

Nov 08, 2012 at 15:56

Sean, what nonsense. The point I make is worthwhile and if everyone adhered to it there would be a lot fewer legal wrangles going on.

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peter davies

Nov 08, 2012 at 16:01

Sean Condon - was this article about you? New Model Adviser March 2011 ? Perhaps you can let the readers know how you got on.......

"Bluefin is suing for £1 million in a case against former member Sean Condon, alleging the adviser poached clients when setting up his new business.

Bluefin member firm Layton Blackham Financial Services in January launched legal action at the High Court Queen's Bench against former adviser Sean Condon and his new business Yew Tree Financial Planning. Bluefin has alleged Cheshire-based Condon broke his contractual and fiduciary duties to his former employer.

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Ian Lees

Nov 08, 2012 at 16:02

What a disspointing array of comments. Marlene has been a stalwart at the IFP - helping out on the finances as well as being a great personality and staunch supporter of financial planning overall. Marlene has given a great dela of her time - when not " banged up " for charity - and the amount of money she raised. I wish Marlene all the very best in what ever career she chooses - and her motivation and other qualities will be used to great success.

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Sean Condon

Nov 08, 2012 at 16:18

Yes Peter - that story was about me. From March 2011. So I am accutely aware of what it feels like to have allegations published about you that you cannot respond to becuase you have to go through legal channels to defend yourself. So here we are in Nov 2012 and have I been to court? Did I pay a £1 million?

According to your logic the answer to both must be yes. After all 'allegations' are as good as being guilty. There can't be another side to it, can there? I must have just missed those follow news story's about me.

Oh, but of course not everything alledged is true. What did Towry alledge against the Raymond James advisers? What did the court find?

Peter - try to understand that when a story is about an individual, it is not helpful or 'worthwhile' to have someone like you make such petty comments. Just because you CAN make a comment, doesn't mean you SHOULD.

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Emil and the Detectives

Nov 08, 2012 at 16:49

There is something fishy about this. I don't think the whole story is out there yet. More clues to come??

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Stephen Ng via mobile

Nov 08, 2012 at 17:45

Hang on Sean. Peter is really making a valid comment about those who sell their clients and practice yet feel that its okay to court the very same clients after a short period. He's not said that's what Marlene or you have done. The point is that if you sell something it doesn't belong to you. If selling IFA's feel that after a time related covenant they can go after their former clients, legally or otherwise, its immoral! Simple. I have no doubt Marlene has contributed hugely to the IFA world over the years.

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Sean Condon

Nov 08, 2012 at 18:52

Hi Stephen - you, like Peter, are missing my point. Of course people shouldn't go around deliberately breaking contracts, just like people shouldn't do any bad things deliberately - the list is endless of broad advice you can give that would make for a better world. And in a broad debate making those points is perfectly valid.

But when you make those comments directly under an article like this (an article by the way, that has no mention of contractual wranglings) you are, by implication, harking back to a different article and you are suggesting wrong doing by the person concerned. You are taking the allegations that have been made at face value and making a judgement of the person concerned.

That's why I felt the need to respond to Peter's comment originally.

The point I am trying to make is that without hearing from both parties fully, you cannot make that judgement call with any validity.

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Phil Bill

Nov 08, 2012 at 20:07

I think the only points worth making here are those recognising Marlenes contribution to our profession, and wishing her well. With which I concur.

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Mark Stokes

Nov 09, 2012 at 04:47

Here,here Phil.

That said and Ihope you will agree is that although this particular blog is not the place to speculate on what has transpired between the parties on ownership of client relationships and intellectual copyright etc, a sensible debate is much needed.

it is clear we need some sor of code of conduct that keeps the client at the heart of the relationship but allows the transfer of 'ownership' of the same at a safe and reasonable value for the seller and of course acquirer. Without this whether we value our business on turnover, multiple of recurring income or profi or percentage of assets is irrelevant.

From my experience some high profile cases such as Towrie will continue to stifle substantial new investment and sensible consolidation in our sector. Look at Vantis and Tenon as an example of consolidation failure in accountancy. This is after many firms have sold and stayed for a decade. We seem to manage less than 2 - 3 years before many of our peers move on and the clients 'seek them out' or the buyer broke promises not to make a better profit than we did from our businesses!

I am not saying that every deal is perfect but to protect an advisers life time of work some protection and integrity is required to establish fair value and continued investment to benefit the clients being transferred.

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Ian Lees

Nov 09, 2012 at 07:00

Over many years in the industry of insurance - it is driven by greed. Any personal relationship with a client, prior to and after has no bearing on honest dealing. If I have a car - and I sell my car - I cannot expect to turn up at any time - to drive it away. The same applies to the sale of a client bank. I had experienceof this at Hambro Life - where client banks were purchased and sold to each consultant - who was willing and able to service the client. In Fife an estate agent sold and repurchased his client bank several times. A number of insurance companies bought the client bank - discovered that it was the agent who " worked his clients and client bank", something insurance comapnies have failed at so often over so many decades - yet they still retian this dysfunctional delision -they can manage clients expectations. Financial institutions fail becasue they are one stop sales people - the old style of product flogger - which has faile dclients over and over again - but the commissions have lined many an advisers silk pockets, and their manager, and area manager and sales Director and theri bosses.

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Phil Bill

Nov 09, 2012 at 07:41

Thanks Mark,

This is not the place, as you say, but there IS work going on to draw up a template code of Conduct, and IFA Centre is very activly involved in this.

That said, historically low barriers to entry have been an issue, and the weak branding and low levels of service and engagement from the consolidated firms have certaibly been a factor.

This debate should be under a seperate article!!

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Nov 09, 2012 at 07:58

Ian makes a very good comment here. Probably a client bank is not an asset you can sell. You can't sell valuable relationships you have with your clients, you just can't.

People like Marlene or Sean may have learn this the hard way. Obviously it is only a speculation.

It is time for consolidators to learn that in the financial planning business they waist their time and probably their money. I see new consolidators buying a bunch of firms and trying to sell them for £60m. I wish them luck, in my opinion they have thrown good money away.

It us time to learn from their experiences and find different ways of retiring from a business where multipliers come second and the clients come first.

I look forward for Marlene and Sean to put the Axa affair behind and learn from their experiences. There are people I value so much.

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Mark Stokes

Nov 09, 2012 at 07:59

Agreed Phil.

We should catch up at some point soon.

Again best of luck to Marlene should she happen to be following this.

We may only be a small representative of our total numbers but for the most part there is a level of intelligent debate about key issues that many sectors would and should truly envy. Still a great business to be in long term.


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peter davey

Nov 09, 2012 at 09:06

Forums are a wonderful thing. I have had a few calls on the Marlene/Guardian thing saying "well done mate - well said" and "how very dare you". Just thought I would clarify that the comments I that are being attributed to me were made by PETER DAVIES - NOT ME - PETER DAVEY.

Bless you all!

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peter davies

Nov 09, 2012 at 10:11

Peter Davey- well thank you for the kind words!

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peter davey

Nov 09, 2012 at 11:13

My pleasure - I am sure you are all lovely people! I am a firm believer that we are all entitled to our opinion - I wish I had one!!

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Jon Golding

Nov 10, 2012 at 00:56

Anyone who knows Marlene, her long standing reputation, her going the extra mile, her good works for others will not be taken in by this legal smokescreen and facile comments expressed by some on this blog.

To wit:

@Eugen – “People like Marlene or Sean may have learn this the hard way. “ What a stupid statement (morally and grammatically!) Who are you to make such a potentially libelous remark? You don’t have a name so do you work for Bluefin?

This blog seems to display a total lack of understanding of the legal process which has come across from the US (where I have seen this movie before when operating businesses there over many years). No win-no fee; legal intimidation by plaintiff without having a substantive case; abuse of our legal process is what seems to be going on here.

Several high profile people have left Bluefin recently and this is not the first case of them suing a leaver on similar grounds of alleged client poaching. None of this will end up in court! High nuisance law suits intentionally dragged out over time typically look for eventual out of court settlements (which count as a win) since the total reputational and financial costs for the defendant and frozen downtime just do not make sense so they are forced to settle, unless they have deep pockets.

Note well that the Guardian statement did not say they let Marlene go or that she resigned (since if they did she could sue them and if she did they would no doubt pay her off well as compensation for her not being able to carry out her mandate as expected). And of course, like arbitration, silence on both sides is a pre-condition which always leaves a nasty doubt. But there may be a bigger plot here.

How can Marlene or Guardian build their new business with a prolonged cloud over Marlene? They can't. Bluefin may be attacking both Marlene (and their competition Guardian) so that other key people in Bluefin do not follow her over. Clients will read about it and they too will follow their trusted advisors willingly as some may already have done without being solicited. If so, shrewd move Bluefin, I'd say! This is like a divorce. It's no longer about the parties it's all about lawyers exploiting ambiguity to make fees! I’ll bet on it!

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Julian Stevens

Nov 10, 2012 at 11:25

I recall many years ago meeting a former director of one of the now long-since subsumed national IFA firms who said he'd been contacted by some clients with whom he'd dealt with in the past. He made it very clear right from the word go that he was bound by a non-solicitation clause and that if they [the clients] wanted to transfer their business to the firm of which he was now a director, he would have to be seen beyond any doubt to have had no hand in the process. He told the clients that they would have to write to his former employers stating unequivocally that they had sought him out, that he had not initiated contact in any way and that their wish to transfer their affairs to his new firm was entirely their own decision without any influence, persuasion or solicitation whatsoever from any outside party.

If, upon leaving a firm and receiving payment for your client bank, you sign a non-solicitation clause and then, if clients seek you out, respond in any other way, you're on very sticky ground.

On what basis AXA/Bluefin consider Ms. Shalton to have breached her contractual obligations or indeed just what those obligations are we know not but, if she has, she may have rendered herself vulnerable to everything that AXA now seem intent on bringing down upon her.

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Ian Lees

Nov 10, 2012 at 12:21

I am extremely dissapointed with " Social Media", the lack of any controls and given the latest BBC foul reporting against Lord McAlpine, and Philip Schofied a presenter at ITV , - living up to his job title by " presenting " David Cameron with his list from the internet " to be investigated ? ". It appears Marlene Shalton has become a Ms ? and is up there with the array of the tirade of tedious comments and tiresome opinions - which do not appear to have any validity - or substance . . . nor does anyone other than those involved, have any knowledge - yet provide their own opinions - or suspicions. . . . .generated by the social media correspondants - or as we used to call them " Pen Pals ". Only those with any knowledge - i.e those involved should be involved and rectify the matters - if indeed they require to be rectified. Still social media allows those who contribute - to become better known - for whatever reason. It is disspaointing that the opinions often have little value - and less substance, something which has usually been attributed to poor quality of journalists, and their expansion of a story to meet their editors needs - rather than provide factual information to their readers for their benefit.

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Jon Golding

Nov 10, 2012 at 18:07

It is encouraging to see good professional opinion coming into this thread, especially with Julian's and Ian's last comments. That is the same level of intelligence and analysis expected by clients from a trusted advisor.

Social media gossip will always be around, sad to say, by those who (a) are mischief makers / attention seekers or (b) anonymous allies of the one whose side they are pro-actively taking to try to discredit (in this case) a new competitor and former President of the IFP. The IFP is being smeared by extension so members should not be silent. As a founder Council Member 25+ years ago I have to stand up and say something when I see comments like these.

For those who depend on public confidence for our livelihoods, in an already challenged industry, we cannot allow these blogs to descend to the dirty washing level led by anonymous (a) or (b) saboteurs.

Citywire's job is to report the news factually to us without passing any opinion. It is not News of the World! But they give it back to us (ie the informed practitioners in the industry) to interpret for one another and for the benefit of less informed readers. So we owe it to ourselves, and our clients, to be constructive and fair in any comments.

Readers should conclude after each discussion thinking more not less of our profession. It is therefore our duty to be vigilant to keep out the miscreants. Also our duty to try to resolve misunderstandings and conflict, if we are in a position to do so (offline of course!).

We are heading into major changes in 2013 and ‘trusted advisor’ is going to become the common tested concept for both advice (fees) and broking/selling (commissions). We need to use these excellent, free New Model Advisor forums to build substance and credibility within these two channels. But we must protect our practitioners first, not the product providers. They can take care of themselves.

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Arthur Pint

Aug 23, 2013 at 06:18

All those bought by Bluefin made a pretty penny and many left taking clients, she wouldn't be the first!

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Ian Lees

Aug 23, 2013 at 10:37

We as advisers build up a client relationship - as we do with friends and family. The sale of a business is usually because big companies look at the funds under management - and want to churn them for their own advantage eg companies like standard life who are " looking to attract new clients to their wrap account ". What is usually overlooked by the reckless purchasers is the CLIENT, and all good advisers look after their CLIENTS as customers - rather than a " potential sale ". Companies who have large influx of business . . .should be able to identify this for the NEW FCA - and demonstrate the value of the CHURNING or PROPER TRANSFER OF BUSINESS .. .for any good reason. Commissions at 4.5% is not a good reason ! We have seen many insurance companies over the years purchase Estate Agents - and Mortgage Brokers " to boost their assets under management ", who fall flat on their faces - and have to sell them of because they are incompetent in handling their purchase e.g TSB Bank sell off of many businesses RBS sell of of many businesses. These asset strippers - form no good part of our society and cause anxiety and stress - which is unnecessary. Good advisers tied and Independent ( because restricted advisers are much the same as Tied Agents ) - look after their customers - which the FCA is forced not to accept - because of illicit lobbying by banks and insurance companies who have demonstrated they cannot be trusted to " Look After Clients Money ". EG the Pension Trustees at Scottish Widows - who stole part of my PENSION FUND .. and who are now flogging auto enrolment - using the same pension management trustees.

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