Help for UK expat victims of fraudulent financial advisors

Published:  22 Mar at 6 PM
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Although the UK’s financial industry has been forced to clean up its act as regards mis-selling at home, UK expats across the world are still at risk of losing their pensions and retirement nest eggs.

Although the sheer numbers of pension and investment disasters perpetrated by commission-hungry IFAs in the UK have finally led to a more regulated financial services industry, the sharks are still out there, trawling for unsophisticated soon-to-be retirees. The real danger, however, is found in retirement hotspots across the world, with unscrupulous, unregulated advisors carrying on their scams and ripping off victims by the thousand.

Most target expat pensions, with offshore providers traditionally the payers of the highest commissions linked to the dodgiest deals. The risks have multiplied since the liberation of pension pots via the cancellation of the requirement to buy an annuity with the fund. The few decent advisors’ schemes available are lost in the hustlers’ clamour, much of which still originates from unregistered fraudsters operating illegally online from within the UK.

Finding the right advice is tricky at best, especially for new investors, and there are good reasons for transferring a pension offshore if it’s poorly performing or even frozen. Regulations can be sparse in many countries, leaving those who’ve fallen foul of the sharks with nowhere to turn.

One website offers sound advice, and is run by Angela Brooks, a former tax advisor, Director of the British Taxpayers’ Federation and a lay barrister committed to supporting victims of financial mis-selling. Pension Life’s web pages tell how the offshore arm of the industry works and are aimed specifically to expats. She admits she isn’t always right, but for those who’ve lost almost everything, her advice is well worth having.

The crux of her advice comes in the form of questions which should be asked of every offshore IFA before any decisions are taken. Regulation and the activities it covers is a must-know, followed by investor protection availability from the regulator. The FA’s qualifications, means of checking them and their relevance to the advice being given are all essential information, as is the holding of relevant professional indemnity insurance. Top of this essential list of questions should be commissions, fee schedules and early encashment penalties.
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