A client's best interests have to be an integral consideration for advisers before they make a referral to a law firm, delegates were told at the 2019 SIFA Conference.
Speaking at the conference last week (6 June), Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) policy associate Jatinderpal Loyal told advisers to re-engage with law firms as it would not only potentially benefit the client but their business too.
During the talk, which was chaired by SIFA director Dave Seager, Loyal said that working together would offer a better experience for the client. "Law firms might not be competent enough to give advice in financial services or might be acting outside regulatory permissions," he added. "That is the biggest risk."
Loyal referred to the SRA Standards and Regulations, which includes a code of conduct for solicitors and firms. When referring a client to a third party for financial advice, the code says, law firms will have to make sure the referral is best for their clients.
Furthermore, he added, firms also need to have in place effective governance structures and systems and controls that help make sure that arrangements with another business are compliant with the SRA's rules and any legislation.
Loyal also said referrals to a third party should be based on a "measured approach" that set out to benefit the client. "Clients should understand and agree to what is happening," he added. "This helps to protect client confidentiality, among other things.
"Clients are not to be sold as commodities. Don't allow arrangements to be dressed up as something they are not."
Talk chair Seager, who was promoted to MD of SIFA Professional in May, said that now is "fabulous time" to be approaching the legal profession where advisers can succeed in building "meaningful partnerships with solicitors."
Last month, Seager was aappointed head of SIFA Professional, which he described as "a membership proposition designed to support quality advisory firms succeed in building meaningful partnerships with solicitors".
"Now is a fabulous time to be approaching the legal profession," he added. "We are exceedingly lucky and grateful to have such a close working relationship with the SRA to inform our services to our firms.
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