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SJP pays £1.3m redress bill as police investigate rogue adviser

by Michelle Abrego on Nov 22, 2013 at 08:30

SJP pays £1.3m redress bill as police investigate rogue adviser

St James’s Place (SJP) has paid £1.25 million in compensation and redress to clients of a rogue adviser who has been banned from running a company for 14 years.

Christopher Bladen, who was a SJP partner from July 2009 to November 2012, allegedly misappropriated at least £858,000 of client funds according to the Insolvency Service.

The Insolvency Service said that between July 2009 and November 2012 Bladen also invested at least £402,500 in funds he was not authorised to. The funds underperformed and the clients lost their investments.

SJP said it had handed over ‘information and evidence’ related to Bladen’s ‘serious misconduct’ to Kent Police and has offered to repay his clients £1.25 million in compensation and redress.

‘Late last year we discovered serious misconduct by one of our partners. We immediately terminated his contract, informed Kent Police and have ensured none of our clients were disadvantaged,’ it said in a statement.

‘All evidence and information was passed to Kent Police in 2012 and the matter is in their hands. It would therefore be inappropriate for us to comment any further whilst they carry out their enquiries.’

The Insolvency Service said its investigation showed that Bladen received funds given to him for investment, either through cheques made payable to himself or paid directly into his personal bank account.

It alleged that on several occasions he amended the payee details on cheques for his own benefit and used the money to fund his own lifestyle, pay creditors and gamble.

Bladen, who was previously a member of collapsed network Alpha to Omega, filed for bankruptcy in February 2013 and following the Insolvency Service’s investigation has been handed a 14-year restriction for ‘breaching and abusing a position of trust and misappropriating clients’ funds’.

Andrew Stanley from the Kent Official Receiver’s office said: ‘Bladen held a position of trust whilst acting as a financial adviser. He took advantage of this to abuse this position, choosing instead to exploit the trust his clients placed in him for his own gain.’

‘Bladen’s actions were of a serious nature and gaining the highest period tariff for a bankruptcy restriction undertaking will deter others from committing similar acts and uphold the integrity of the insolvency regime.’

26 comments so far. Why not have your say?

Evan Owen

Nov 22, 2013 at 09:14

"Partner"...

A much abused term in firms, it should be banned, it is misleading.

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Chris Boylan

Nov 22, 2013 at 09:33

There are many reasons why I have a particular dislike of SJP but, in their favour, at least they are looking to pay compensation for their "partner's" misdeeds. This is a better prospect for us then SJP's closing their business, dumping all on the FSCS and re-opening next month as "Place of St James" or whatever. Oops - have I given them an idea?

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Julian Sunley via mobile

Nov 22, 2013 at 09:36

For all the negativity that seems to be attracted to the comments sections these days, in the case of this story surely the stand out point is that SJP has ensured no clients have been detrimented and they should at least be applauded for that.

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Jonathan Kirby

Nov 22, 2013 at 09:39

Chris & Julian

You beat me to it.

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Evan Owen

Nov 22, 2013 at 09:43

Julian, are you suggesting that no other firm does this?

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Julian Stevens

Nov 22, 2013 at 09:48

SJP are obviously doing the right thing and what it's now going to have to pay out won't make much of a dent in its huge profits, but what always amazes me about such stories is how the perpetrators of such deeds can ever think they can get away with them. It's a guaranteed path to financial self destruction.

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Lee Clarke

Nov 22, 2013 at 09:49

Chris, Julian and Jonathan, you beat ME to it! Thank goodness SJP make good profits, or the wouldn't be able to do this and once again it would fall on the rest of the advice community.

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Annoymous

Nov 22, 2013 at 09:52

KevHere

mmmmmmmm, why would SJP fight it - why not acquire some positive press and they hadnt a leg to stand on

But the main issue is - how did they or there compliance/HR and the FSA miss the adviser was banned from running a company ?

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DP's IFA

Nov 22, 2013 at 09:58

Shame Capita are not that responsible when they make their own errors. Or the FSA for that matter let alone most of the banks! You can not account for every crook but you can try to put their wrongs right. So fair doo to SJP & totally agree with Lee's sentiment.

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Alex Morrison WM

Nov 22, 2013 at 10:06

You have to applaud SJP for dobbing in this this unsavoury character who gives all other decent advisers a bad name. And for immediately offering redress (albeit at miniscule cost to them) to the affected clients.

But I raise the same question. How on earth did this guy get £402,500 of unauthorised sales on the books and (I'd hazzard a guess) past their compliance scrutineers? I'd bet this guy was a high flyer who was on reduced case checking so took the bet he'd get these past scrutiny unchallenged!

Credit where credits due but come on SJP, heard of "duty of care"?

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Sascha K

Nov 22, 2013 at 11:00

Surely an upmarket rogue adviser should be properly described as a scoundrel, or possibly even a cad.

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Evan Owen

Nov 22, 2013 at 11:26

Nah, partner will do

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James Clancy

Nov 22, 2013 at 12:45

The sad thing about this news is it gives the public another excuse not to seek financial planning advice.

Wonder what the headline will be in the Personal Finance Section of the Telegraph for their wealth manager of the year !

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DIXIE

Nov 22, 2013 at 13:19

UCIS, FILM PARTNERSHIPS, LIFE SETTLEMENT FUNDS, GEARED PROPERTY SCHEMES, EBTs, etc. Think I'll stick to 5 major asset classes in known wrappers!!!!! Boring, maybe, but free as a bird!!!

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What Gives

Nov 22, 2013 at 14:48

Sascha K.. very amusing... 'Upmarket Wealth Managers SJP.. a better class of Rogue IFA'... I can imagine him with his waxed moustache - swindling old ladies in Nice & Monte Carlo..

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Knoddy

Nov 22, 2013 at 15:12

Are there any more rogue advisers at SJP? Nobody knows!

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Julian Stevens

Nov 22, 2013 at 15:43

Whatever we may think of SJP's funds, products, charges, advice standards and the phoniness of their claim to recommend topping up what a client may already have with another provider if that's better than investing in one of SJP's own products...............any organisation is always going to have the occasional bad apple. SJP could hardly have known if the money he was taking off clients was going into his private bank account. The important thing, not least as far as the regulator is concerned, is that all the victims will be fully compensated.

That said, it seems (to me) extraordinary that the regulator doesn't/hasn't run some sort of cost-effective public awareness campaign warning people against:-

1. ever writing a cheque to an individual rather than to his business and,

2. even if they're asked to do the latter, make sure they see proof of the firm's regulatory permission to handle client money.

It seems so blinking obvious, doesn't it? Using their resources in a way that gets the most value out of the effort that they make. But no, the Grand Utopian Vision of the FSA's RDR was deemed to be a much more important allocation of resources. And look where that's got us. You have to laugh, otherwise you'd cry.

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Ian Lees

Nov 22, 2013 at 16:52

It does show the ethics of SJP for looking after them - as principal when their adviser - has not been open with his principal - or clients - and well done to SJP who have ensured clients are disadvantaged - or have to wait years for redress - like Equitable Life, or Endowment Missselling or Pension Missselling - or . . . .PPI - where the unethical selling - and instructed to pay out - LloydsTSB are still dragging their feet and still have not . . . .paid out claims ?

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Alfresco via mobile

Nov 22, 2013 at 17:47

Advice with a Guarantee works for me, and no doubt my clients. Well done sjp. I'm an IFA and have been contemplating how I take away risk from my business, now I know.

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IFA compliance officer via mobile

Nov 23, 2013 at 10:38

I bet the clients concerned are happy that they had SJP to quickly compensate and ensure they were no worse off. I doubt the situation and positive client resolve would have been the same with an IFA?

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Concerned.Consumer

Nov 23, 2013 at 15:12

Interesting that it is a non IFA doing the right thing !. This shows the great benefit of clients dealing with large non IFA firms as opposed to small so called "whole of market" firms that will just walk away and leave the mess to the FSCS.

Most of you appear to agree, given your positive comments that this was a highly commendable thing for SJP to do. Very consumer focused.

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Billywhizzuk via mobile

Nov 24, 2013 at 07:28

Concerned consumer - you've entirely missed the point. The fact that SJP is such a monolith contributed to their salesman getting away with it.

SJP is no more whole of market than you are a hedgehog.

This demonstrates that you know very little about how financial services work under the bonnet.

You'd be better off over at moneysavingexpert forums where the vast majority unknowingly demonstrate equal amounts of ignorance.

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Ian Lees

Nov 24, 2013 at 09:13

If concerned .consumer was as thorough as he purports to be - it was " non IFA " businesses such as standard life, scottish widows ( the life and pension element - which remains at LloydsTSB, Scottish amicable, LloydsTSB Halifax, Bank of Scotland ( all part of the LloydsTSB Brand ) and other banks and building societies eg Leeds Building Owned by LloydsTSB ( the co ope and their building society ownership ) who were flogging Endowments pensions PPI etc., - and who have no yet made redress eg recent report on LloydsTSB - the Edinburgh bank who have not yet paid out their claims . . . . in St James we Trust .. .to sort it out . . . . . who operate as " almost whole of market ". Nothing wrong with their ethics when it suits their advertising skills. I would like to note - that SJP also good at paying out claims . . in full . . .I have no objection to their charging structure - as they have worked out what they require to be profitable - and charge accordingly for their levels of service.

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Concerned.Consumer

Nov 25, 2013 at 18:28

@Billywhizzuk !!.. Why am I not surprised that a UK IFA gives himself a name like Billy Whizz. Is it really that surprising UK consumers do not take your Industry seriously..

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Billywhizzuk via mobile

Nov 25, 2013 at 20:31

Concerned consumer - FYI it was my nickname from when I served in the Army actually. Perhaps you should change your nickname to NoIdea?

You're clearly out of your depth. Go away and learn the basics, thenyou might start talking some sense.

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Ian Lees

Nov 26, 2013 at 09:09

@con sernned consumer. . .Billy Whizz . . .was fast . . .and ethical . . .and professional fictional character . . . .and complements the comic AL character of one who describes themselves as a " concerned " consumer . . of unknown origin - or unknown quantity, and reckless in their due diligence of facts . . and serves no other purpose - than to raise the blood pressure of the Real Advisers - who in REALITY . . . . care for their customers.

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