Dive into the financial pool

I refer to the letter in The Lawyer 23 January which expresses concern about solicitors becoming involved in giving financial advice ('Not ready for finance advice').

While I would agree with some of what the writer says with regard to the need for control, experience and expertise, I do feel it is necessary to put the other side of the story.

Many major firms have been involved in giving financial advice for a long time. And my own firm, Blake Lapthorn, has been doing this in one form or another for over 100 years, and the same is true of many of the firms who belong to the Association of Solicitor Investment Managers (Asim).

All those involved in giving advice in this firm are, as they are required to be by the Law Society, properly qualified in their respective fields, whether portfolio management, insurance and insurance products, or pensions.

With the current state of the finance industry, many clients who might have gone direct to an insurance company as a product provider or to a city institution now realise the dangers of doing this. They very much welcome the opportunity to be able to leave their financial affairs in the hands of a solicitor they have probably dealt with for many years and whom they feel they can trust.

A lawyer financial adviser is in touch daily with the markets and city brokers and can sometimes have a better overall view of the situation.

I can assure the writer the Law Society is keeping a close eye on the whole area – firms doing investment business are not only required to have qualified persons in place but are subject to monitoring visits.

This firm, in common with most others, received a visit consisting of two monitors over a period of three days last year and I believe we satisfied the society's requirements.

Financial services may not be a service for many solicitors to offer, but it is an area solicitors have traditionally been involved in and have given very good service to clients. Yes, it is something of a specialist area, but then so are most areas of legal practice these days.

David Collins

Head of financial planning

and investment

Blake Lapthorn

Portsmouth PO1 2QR.