Ex SJP trainee banned for lying about his qualifications

Ex SJP trainee banned for lying about his qualifications

A former trainee adviser at St James’s Place has been banned and fined for lying about his qualifications and forging learning statements. 

The Financial Conduct Authority fined Alexander Stuart £34,000 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 regulator said that between 2014 and 2016, Mr Stuart misled SJP and the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) by falsely claiming to have passed the necessary exams to earn a level 4 qualification.

The FCA said: "The authority considers that Mr Stuart is not a fit and proper person as he lacks honesty and integrity, and poses a serious risk to consumers and to confidence in the financial system.

"Consequently, the authority hereby makes an order prohibiting Mr Stuart from performing any function in relation to any regulated activity carried on by an authorised person, exempt person or exempt professional firm."

Mr Stuart was approved by the regulator in 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.

Mr Stuart was a trainee at the time and 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.

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

In November 2015, he also told the CII he had passed the R06 exam and received a learning statement containing record of his examination history. But he went on to claim it did not contain all of the exams he had passed. 

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

But Mr Stuart was exposed by the CII in January 2016 when he attempted to deceive the professional body with a copy of the forged learning statement and he was suspended by Clearwater. 

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

In a statement, SJP said: "St James’s Place 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."