Spanish expats warn incomers to beware of dodgy financial advisors

Published:  13 Mar at 6 PM
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While it’s obvious from online forums that unscrupulous financial advisors preying on newly-arrived expats isn’t just a Spanish problem, expats in the sunny destination are among the first to speak out in warning.

British retirees are especially at risk, with many arriving in their chosen countries and immediately joining up with expat clubs and other such meeting places. Looking to invest their savings to supplement their meagre UK state pensions, they’re easy, inexperienced pickings for the dodgy FAs often linked with the clubs.

Costa Brava couple John and Carol Woodall are two such, who met up with a charming, well-dressed FA at a hotel-based social event. Having taken his business card, they called him for financial advice once they’d settled in.

Over coffee at an upmarket resort, they told him they were looking for low-risk investments, but were persuaded to take on higher-risk options. According to John, they just assumed he was an expert in his field and finally gave in.

The result, obvious to those with basic knowledge of the pitfalls of investing, was a total disaster, with the value of the investment dropping like a stone and the couple losing £63,000 of their savings almost overnight. Carol is heartbroken, wishing she’d given the money to family or a charity.

The moral of this sad tale is that new arrivals in overseas locations must check all FAs’ credentials with the relevant authorities and ask hard questions about the individual’s authorisation, qualifications, experience, track record and how he is paid for his advice. If any uncertainty creeps in, run!

Along with the bad apples in every retirement barrel, there are a few crisp, fresh examples who can ensure a good, if not spectacular return on investments. Expats should remember the old saying – if it sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is.
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