Clients of a former St James’s Place (SJP) financial adviser are facing losses totalling £1.35m ($1.7m, €1.5m) after he persuaded them to invest in a start-up which was not approved by the wealth management firm.
About 17 customers of Philip Cox have seen their savings disappear following their investment in Green World Innovations – a firm created by one of Cox’s school friends – which entered administration in October 2019, British newspaper The Sunday Times has reported.
Cox used SJP company emails and letter-headed paper to convince his clients to make the investments between 2014 and 2019.
But they were not approved by the wealth management firm, which denies any responsibility for the financial losses the 17 investors are facing.
Cox was an SJP partner between December 2008 and May 2019 and now he is the director of a medicinal cannabis firm named Midicaleaf, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Separate from SJP
The British newspaper raised the issue with SJP’s chief executive Andrew Croft in March, and he said he would investigate.
Last week, the customers received a letter from Croft saying that he couldn’t help them because, after consulting with Cox, the adviser said he did not present the investment in the start-up as approved by SJP but as “separate and distinct from any product or service provided by SJP”.
The chief executive added that this argument was supported by at least one of the clients involved and by those who have not complained.
But the five investors who got in touch with The Sunday Times claim they only invested in Green World Innovations because they thought Cox was an SJP representative.
Cox was an appointed representative for SJP from November 2011 to May 2017, according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) register, which states that: “The principal [in this case SJP] is responsible for the activities of an appointed representative or tied agent.”
The five complaints have now been referred to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).
International Adviser reached out to SJP but the wealth management firm said it has “nothing to add” because there are client complaints involved which are difficult to discuss “without the relevant permissions”.