Proceed with caution when investing
Sadly, it has become even more important to understand just who you are investing with and what you are investing into.
“Not all advisers are created equal”
Not all advisers are created equally, there are regulated onshore advisers who are kept under the watchful eye of the financial regulator, The Financial Conduct Authority, and there are those who are unregulated or who operate offshore and therefore escape regulation. This does not however mean that they are not actively seeking to involve investors in their latest investment wheeze.
It is therefore, very important that investors understand the distinctions between ‘financial adviser’ and ‘independent financial adviser’ or ‘independent wealth manager’. Only ‘independent financial adviser’ has any legal standing as this is a restricted term in law unlike descriptions such as ‘consultant’ or ‘financial adviser’ which do not.
The first piece of advice I would offer is to ignore the fancy business card or website. They are cheap and easy to produce and provide. Even very smart websites and brochures can cost not much more than a few hundred pounds to set up.
Check the bona fides
The second piece of advice and probably the most important is to check the status of the adviser and organisation on the FCA Register. Here you will be able to check the name, status and full contact details for regulated individuals who can offer financial and investment advice. If they are not on the register then I would strongly urge you to discontinue any discussions right there. Further, if there are any variations to that which was given to you do likewise.
If the ‘adviser’ has suggested they are an accountant or legal adviser, terms which again have no protection in law, you can search with the appropriate bodies such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants or the Law Society who also maintain registers of those authorised to give investment advice.
Only by doing so can you really be sure that the bona fides are there before you decide to proceed.
If and when you do decide to proceed you should ensure that you are being offered appropriate advice on regulated investments as they offer the protection of the Financial Ombudsman for complaints and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme for any redress you may be owed further down the line if advice is judged to have been inappropriate.
The types of investments which are generally offered are those which are regulated;
- Unit Trusts and OEICs
- Investment Trusts
- Stakeholder and Personal Pensions
- Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs)
- Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs)
- Enterprise and Seed Enterprise Investment Schemes (EIS and SEIS)
- Insurance Bonds
- Portfolio Management
- Retail products offered by UK registered banks and insurance companies
You should proceed with caution when investing or considering advice to invest in such wheezes as tax mitigation schemes, teak forests, parcels of land, garage rents, hotel rooms or any of the other nonsensical ‘sure bets’ offered by unregulated advisers. If it sounds too good to be true it almost always is.
Even regulated advisers occasionally get involved in these types of thing, please don’t proceed without real caution and even a second opinion. It is highly unlikely you will have any recourse to the Financial Ombudsman Service and Financial Services Compensation Scheme as they purely consider regulated advice regarding regulated products.
At Investment Quorum we have never felt the inclination to go outside of the regulated investment arena to meet the financial planning and investment requirements of our clients. Whilst some unregulated products may have a place for those willing to take on more risk or who have a higher capacity for loss than the norm we just do not feel that we have ever had a client in a situation which required the use of them.
If you would like to more about out award winning wealth management service please don’t hesitate to contact us or call us on 0207 337 1390. We would love to discuss how our ethical, and regulated, approach to assisting private investors might be of some benefit.
Lee Robertson, CEO
Lee is a Chartered Wealth Manager and is listed in the definitive Spears Wealth Management Index as one of the UK’s top 10 wealth managers. He is a regular contributor to the financial press and is often on television discussing wealth management and investment issues.
The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Investing in shares should be regarded as a long-term investment and should fit in with your overall attitude to risk and financial circumstances.
Investment Quorum is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
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