Protect yourself from pension scams
Financial scams are unfortunately common, with rogue advisers often targeting the international market. Be proactive if you have concerns about a scam. Get a second opinion if you might have suffered from poor financial advice. Search for our international regulator directory. Get in touch with your local regulator directly if you think a firm is trading inappropriately.
Before taking advice, ask for a few key details about the person and firm you’re dealing with
Financial regulation aims to protect customers from investment scams and miss-selling
The international ‘advisory’ market has been a target for rogue salesmen for years, and it can be difficult to identify a truly reputable firm. In some jurisdictions, intermediary regulators don’t exist and central banks aren’t interested. There’s a few ways to protect yourself from rogue advisers and ensure your advice is insured.
If you have overseas assets and are preparing to return to the UK, ensure you read our Guide to Financial Repatriation to ensure any non-UK compliant assets are properly prepared. This can avoid unnecessary adverse taxation, and if you haven’t received the right advice, you may not understand your reporting requirements.
Protect yourself under regulated pension advice
Where is the firm regulated?
Check our database of international regulators. Regulation is mandatory in the UK for all financial advisory firms. You can check this on the FCA register. If you live outside of the UK, consider searching the appropriate registers in your jurisdiction. EU regulated firms are often approved to ‘passport’ across EU jurisdictions, but must be recognised and registered for this. If you live outside of the EU, such as the USA or Australia, there are strong local regulatory bodies with searchable registers.
Is the firm professionally insured to provide advice to you?
Reputable firms hold Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) for their intermediary and advisory activities. This demonstrates a commitment to their advisory responsibilities, and a level of reassurance to you, as a customer.
What are your rights as a customer, to complain or voice concern about your pension?
Reputable firms are regulated in jurisdictions with strong financial governance, like the UK, USA or the EU. Ask for a copy of the firm’s complaints process or check for the presence of an ombudsman, such as the UK Financial Ombudsman, who can step in to resolve customer complaints. Make sure you’re not dealing with a one-man-band adviser who are common and potentially dangerous in the international market. Deal with a firm with qualified responsible individuals and a good track record for quality advice.
Is the person you’re dealing with aptly qualified?
Most advisers internationally are qualified to UK standards. You may hear the term ‘Level Four’ – this refers to the UK minimum qualification standard for financial advisers. Key professional qualification bodies include:
- The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII)
- The Personal Finance Society (PFS)
- The Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI)
- The London Institute of Banking & Finance (LIBF)
Is the firm regulated or registered to provide advice where you live?
Regulatory permissions can be complex. Make sure you ask the right question, and ensure you understand the firm you’re dealing with. Before you proceed under advice, find out how they are regulated and where they are permitted for activity.
Does it sound too good to be true?
While we offer a ‘free’ review meeting and free documentation and guidance on this site, we admit nothing is free. We are essentially marketing our services, much like other businesses. However, if the consultant or adviser you are dealing with appears to be offering more than a few hours work for free, or promising unrealistic returns or incentives, beware.
In the investment markets, nothing is guaranteed and, outside of strong banks or government bonds, very little is fully financially secure. Engage another adviser and firm for a second opinion if you’re ever uncomfortable.