Financial advisory companies in Thailand turn to full SEC regulation

Published:  14 Oct at 6 PM
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Continuing reports of investment mis-selling in many expat world destinations is forcing not only action by government regulators but also by financial advisory firms themselves in seeking legal registration with local financial authorities.

Recent media reports have identified countries as far apart as Hong Kong, the UAE, Spain, the UK and several Southeast Asian states including Thailand as being hotbeds of unqualified, unregistered salesmen persuading unsophisticated expat investors to take on unsuitable funds, bonds and property investments. The financial advisers are expats themselves, often preying on the newly-arrived and unwary through trusted expat organisations in order to claim high commissions.

The latest investment mis-selling to hit the expat community worldwide concerned funds issued by an Australian company, whose Managed Performance Fund was being peddled to unsuspecting expats in several countries until just before the company itself called in the administrators. Commission rates to FAs have been represented as high as 10-15 per cent, and many investors have lost their savings as a result of the blatant mis-selling.

However, it seems that nowadays financial advice companies are beginning to realise that the unprincipled actions of the few arre severely damaging the reputations of the many, and are taking steps to fully legitimise their activities by registering with regulatory bodies in the countries in which they operate. The UAE, Honk Kong, Singapore and Malaysian governments have tightened up regulations and, in Thailand, several FA firms are registering with the SEC.

Online expat advisory sites are offering tips on how to recognise reputable FAs, including the need to check with the local regulator as to registration, confirm any home country registrations given and check any professional qualifications claimed. Many quote the old saying – ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it isn’t true’ and, as more governments tighten regulations and FAs follow, expat investors may finally be reassured.
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