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Ex-Premier League and England Footballer Suing
St James’s Place Adviser Over Undisclosed Fees

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Chris Smalling is suing his former financial adviser and SJP representative, Klipp Wealth Management (KWM), for three-quarters of a million pounds over charges he claims he was not fully informed about.

Person Looking At Hidden Fees In Contract

A former Manchester United and England football player, Chris Smalling, has revealed that he and his legal team are bringing a £750,000 claim against his former independent financial adviser (IFA), Klipp Wealth Management (KWM), a representative of wealth management firm St James’s Place (SJP) for undisclosed advice fees.

We have recently covered several stories about SJP, mainly relating to its obscure fee structure, non-existent ‘ongoing advice’, and negligent advice from some of its advisers, known as ‘partners’.

According to KWM ‘s LinkedIn page:

“KWM Wealth Ltd is an Appointed Representative of and represents only St. James’s Place Wealth Management plc (which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority) for the purpose of advising solely on the group’s wealth management products and services.”

According to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) website, an ‘appointed representative’ (AR) “carries on regulated activity under the responsibility of an authorised firm, known as ‘the principal'”. As part of this relationship, the principal – here, SJP – is responsible for any ARs and should consistently monitor them, including:

  • Assessing the AR’s senior management
  • Evaluating whether the AR has the proper safeguards in place
  • Monitoring the risk of harm to consumers
  • Ensuring that ARs are overseen to the same standard as employees

The FCA is the UK body responsible for regulating financial firms and markets.

Chris Smalling, who now plays for Serie A side Roma, met with a representative from KWM in 2015 to ascertain what investments he should look into to fund his lifestyle after his professional football career ended. According to Smalling and his legal team, he wanted to find out what the charges would be and how easy it would be to exit the contract if he was unhappy or it did not perform in a satisfactory manner.

According to Court documents, KWM recommended Smalling open two bond wrappers: an international regular investment bond to which he contributed £80,000 per month and a £1.2m lump sum into a regular investment bond. The former Manchester United player claims that he was not made aware of how difficult it would be to exit the bonds and that they were unsuitable for his circumstances. He argues that his fees were much higher than the 1.5% – 1.6% he was initially told he would be paying, and over the 50-year bond period would cost him almost £98 million.

Smalling and his legal team allege that it was not until 2021 (almost six years after the initial recommendation and investment) that he found out that he would incur a 45% tax charge if he tried to withdraw his investment, as it would be treated as income. He is suing KWM for the £750,000 he invested between 2015 and 2023.

KWM refutes the claim, and their legal team has stated that it is “without foundation”.

In early 2024, SJP announced that it was ring-fencing over £425 million to cover expected client complaints relating to its opaque pricing structure, charges for advice it did not provide, and unsuitable advice.

Following a 2023 crackdown from the FCA, known as the ‘Consumer Duty’, which aims to hold firms accountable for delivering good outcomes to consumers, SJP announced an overhaul of its fee structure through which it would scrap:

  • controversial exit fees
  • capped advice fees
  • fund charges

The new fee structure, including the controversial exit fees, is only available to new investors from the end of 2025. Existing clients—and clients who sign up before the new structure is implemented—will still need to pay fees of up to 6% if they leave within six years.

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), the government-backed body responsible for investigating and resolving disputes between consumers and their financial services providers, has also upheld several complaints against SJP relating to the firm’s unsuitable investment advice. As a result, current and former clients of the wealth manager have received compensation or reimbursement for poor returns resulting from the advice they were given.

If you have invested with St James’s Place or one of the wealth manager’s 2,500 AR firms, such as Klipp Wealth Management, and think you have been paying undisclosed fees or have received unsuitable advice and would like to discuss your options, speak to TLW Solicitors’ experienced financial mis-selling team.

Working on a ‘no win – no fee’ basis, our experienced financial mis-selling lawyers can help you through the compensation process, whether this is settled in the early stages with SJP directly or through the Financial Ombudsman Service.

We have extensive experience of successfully taking cases to FOS and securing client compensation, even if they have been knocked back previously.

Sarah Spruce, Legal Director and Head of the Professional Negligence department at TLW Solicitors, commented:

“It’s not just the rich and famous who can fall foul of unsuitable financial advice and hidden fees; IFA clients enter into the adviser/client relationship with the assumption that their best interests are being looked after, and it is clear that this is not always the case.

If Mr Smalling’s claims are correct, SJP, as the principal firm, should have ensured that their appointed representative was operating fairly, openly and reasonably.”

If you, a loved one, or colleague, are a current or former client of St James’s Place, Klipp Wealth Management, or another of SJP’s authorised representative firms and believe you have paid for hidden fees or received unsuitable advice, you could be entitled to compensation.

Get in touch with the professional negligence team at TLW Solicitors for a no-obligation conversation about your possible SJP refund claim.

You can call us on 0800 169 5925, email info@tlwsolicitors.co.uk or complete one of the forms below.

Time limits can apply, and so anyone wishing to bring a claim should do so without delay.

Minimum claim values apply.

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