Do you want to find a decent honest Offshore Financial Adviser ?
Of course you do, so let’s give you some tips to help you find one! Just bare in mind, you might not have the time to do all the checks below for an Offshore Financial Adviser, but if you just do 2 of them then there are many clients who have been abused in the past that will tell you that a little time now could save a fortune and a lot of time in the future.
In this recent blog about independence ( Independent Advice), we talked about the Offshore Financial Adviser and whether the adviser was independent- based on the licence held . Assuming you have found a an Offshore Financial Adviser or two who are regulated and have the right licences- what next?
Here are our five must read tips about finding the Offshore Financial Adviser for you
1. Qualifications and Experience-
Check what you are told and look for websites from regulators, but understand that these websites do not mean that the person you are talking to is regulated.
Check the terms of business or contract you are provided with to make sure that it is has exactly the same name and details as the regulated body at the same address in the same country. Is the Offshore Financial Adviser using another firm’s licence or from another country with a similar name? If so, check who has ultimate responsibility for the advice and whether your advice locally is covered by regulation.
Check the actual certificate is an original, where exams are claimed. Also, check that the name and address is exactly as per the individual giving advice, or that of the company represented.
Ask for 3 independent client contacts so that you can ring the clients and ask them what they think. Also, be keen to offer a reference to future clients of your Offshore Financial Adviser!
Do NOT blindly believe any customer testimonials on websites!
This site has them, like many others, as happy clients like to give references . There is no suggestion that testimonials are not genuine but they may be out of date. The testimonial merely proves that someone as some point in the past received a good service.
Additionally, if the Offshore Financial Adviser used to work in the highly regulated UK or USA, for example, ask for a reference from the previous employer.
3. FCA register ( FCA Register )
If your Offshore Financial Adviser claims they worked in the UK, did you know you can check this out? The register holds information about every registered adviser- past and present. Try the link above.
However, do not just rely on this. The link for the Offshore Financial Adviser will also be to his old employer. They have all their contact details on there so it is easy to check out any UK registered adviser. past of present, from 2001 onwards.
4. Professional Institutes
Is your Offshore Financial Adviser a qualified member of a professional institute? Check to ensure they are a qualified member. Many institutes allow anybody, including you, to join them as a social member. Remember, a season ticket does not allow you to play in the team!
Contact the institute and ask them for membership levels (if it is social then the membership status is largely worthless. CII and CISI are not qualifications )
If your Offshore Financial Adviser is qualified, the institutes have codes of practice that you can read. Again, do not just ask your adviser, check out your Offshore Financial Adviser certificates. The investor must satisfy himself/herself that the adviser
- Has specific pension qualifications and experience. Ask for proof and an original reference from a professional body such as the PFS or CISI. Real advisers hold professional credit card sized membership cards, only in Silver or Gold colours, exclusively produced by the professional bodies, as well as original certificates with gilt edge bordering. Fakes abound but do not have the gilt edge bordering, nor the professional hard plastic membership silver or gold cards with an “Expiry date” and exclusive “Pin”
- does not claim all the charges amount to 1.6% or less – immediately avoid any adviser claiming this. They are employing hidden offshore charges.
Following on from this:
5. Get a breakdown of fees and contracts in writing
Make sure that any recommendations you receive are linked to where you are resident and where the advice is given. Frankly, anything else is worthless. **
You should receive a written report on the firm’s headed notepaper that contains the recommendations, with the name of your Offshore Financial Adviser and the name of the firm and regulated individuals where appropriate. The Offshore Financial Adviser should give you a few days to read the report before you agree to proceed with the recommendations.
The report, ideally, should include-
- The reasons for any recommendation
- Take account of your current and future plans
- Clarify the risk you are prepared to take and all the product costs.
- Disclose the earnings the adviser will receive by way of a fee or, in some cases, commission.
- Breakdown the actual fees of the products (if it just says 1% it is worthless, that is a small part of the charges applied)
( ** Why do we say worthless? We have seen an Offshore Financial Adviser claiming to be in Switzerland, providing a report to someone in France on the basis of a Pension Transfer report generated from the Isle of Man and signed off by someone regulated in Gibraltar.
The Offshore Financial Adviser’s name and his company from Switzerland was printed on the report . It claimed to be regulated but when the client had a problem, not one of the 4 companies involved accepted any responsibility for the advice. Ultimately the money ended up in a high commission generating insurance bond held in Dublin for a pension QROPS in Malta. The client lost 50% of his money, and the Offshore Financial Adviser disappeared.)
Offshore financial adviser – Only if you ask will you find out.
Don’t be afraid to do a little bit of homework before taking any action. It could save a lot of time and money later on.
A good Offshore Financial Adviser will help you by providing all necessary contracts and certificates. If he/she does not, then this is not the right offshore financial adviser for you.
While being regulated is the starting point, it is not the only thing worth considering. If a client has to contact a regulator, then something will have gone wrong. Prevention is better than cure, so try to choose carefully.
There will be many a thoroughly capable Offshore Financial Adviser in the marketplace . In highly regulated jurisdictions, it may be easier to get information to help you choose the right Offshore Financial Adviser by just looking at a register. In other jurisdictions, you will need to ask your Offshore Financial Adviser a few more questions- the good Offshore Financial Adviser will be more than happy to help with this.
With regard to Point 1 above:
- Not all financial advice or financial products require high levels of qualification. There are many decent Offshore Financial Advisers that can provide competent financial planning for many expats.
- Someone with Certificate Level qualifications ( such as CII( Award ) , CertPFS or the old UK FPC papers ) should be able to advice on life insurance, mortgages and savings products.
- Diploma level advisers, a UK requirement, are qualified to provide more comprehensive financial planning, cashflows and more complex investment advice. (usually DipPFS or DipFA)
- Anything above this level is a bonus and just shows the Offshore Financial Adviser has shown a lot of commitment to become more qualified. However, ideally, anyone looking to transfer a UK pension should ask for an AF3 or G60 qualified adviser.
The views expressed in this article are not to be construed as personal advice. You should contact a qualified and ideally regulated adviser in order to obtain up to date personal advice with regard to your own personal circumstances. If you do not then you are acting under your own authority and deemed “execution only”. The author does not except any liability for people acting without personalised advice, who base a decision on views expressed in this generic article. Where this article is dated then it is based on legislation as of the date. Legislation changes but articles are rarely updated, although sometimes a new article is written; so, please check for later articles or changes in legislation on official government websites, as this article should not be relied on in isolation.
Article published 1st February 2016
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