A former St James's Place (SJP) trainee adviser has been banned and fined by the FCA after lying about his qualifications and forging documents that suggested he had passed the necessary exams to advise clients.
Alexander Stuart was fined £34,000 by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and banned from performing regulated financial activity after his actions came to light.
Between 2014 and 2016, the regulator said, Stuart misled SJP and the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) by claiming he had passed the various exams needed to obtain a level 4 qualification.
On 4 April 2014, Stuart was approved by the FCA to perform the CF30 controlled function at SJP due to his relationship with Clearwater Wealth Management (CWM), an appointed representative of the advice giant.
After the Retail Distribution Review, the FCA decided the minimum level of qualification for all retail investment advisers should be level 4, and that level 4 advisers were required to hold a Statement of Professional Standing (SPS) from an accredited body such as the CII, to independently verify their qualification.
At the time, Stuart was a trainee, meaning he did not need an SPS, but had to be directly supervised by someone who had one. The FCA requires advisers obtain the level 4 qualification within 30 months of appointment as a trainee.
During a meeting with his supervisor at SJP on 3 December 2014, Stuart stated he had passed the R04 examination. Then, during another supervisor meeting on 1 April 2015, Stuart said he had passed the R02 exam. Neither claim was true.
Later that year, on 11 November 2015, Stuart told the CII he had passed the R06 exam and had received a learning statement - which provides a record of the units and results an individual holds and can be used towards completing CII qualifications - from the CII, which did not contain all the examinations he had passed. Again, this was untrue.
On 8 December 2015, Stuart forged a learning statement that purported to be a genuine statement that had been issued to him by the CII, setting out the exams he had passed.
The false statement showed he had passed the R03, R04, R05 and R06 exams, although he had actually passed none of these. That day, Stuart gave the false statement to SJP, which in doing so led the firm to believe he had attained the level 4 qualification.
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