Humour me – you may consider me to be naive – but I believe that the ills of financial services (especially offshore) can be put right. All it takes is for the ethical stakeholders to outlaw the unethical ones. Yes, it will be a bit like something out of the Old Testament – but I firmly believe it can be done. And, more importantly, it MUST be done.
So many thousands of victims have lost part or all of their life savings already – and these people must be compensated. But, above all, future victims must be prevented.
Here’s my TOP TEN wishes that I want the Magic Financial Services Fairy to grant (as a matter of urgency):
Governments in the UK and all expat jurisdictions must wake up to scams – both offshore and at home. They must empower/galvanise law-enforcement agencies and give them the resources to tackle financial crime.
Regulators must put together effective regulations – and then ENFORCE them. Regulations on their own are worthless and pointless – the industry must be policed and failure to comply with regulations must be severely sanctioned.
Ceding pension providers must stop handing over thousands of pension transfers to scammers. The Scorpion campaign has had a negligible effect and all leading providers are still at it.
Advisory firms must be regulated – and not just for insurance. If all a firm does is sell insurance, that is fine. But if pension and investment advice is given, the firm must be properly regulated.
Advisers must be appropriately qualified. If they don’t have the right qualifications, they must demonstrate that they are studying and aiming to qualify within a reasonable, pre-determined time frame.
Investors with DB scheme transfers must get proper advice – avoiding flimflam which takes no responsibility for the end result of the transfer. QROPS providers must ensure they only accept business from regulated firms.
QROPS providers must also ensure they have understood and verified the members’ risk profiles – and then ensure that any investments made on behalf of those members are in line with their risk profile.
Life offices must stop accepting business from known scammers and unregulated firms – and cease investing victims’ life savings in unsuitable assets – such as structured notes and UCIS funds.
Life offices must pay redress to their victims for investment losses caused by negligence and fraud.
There must be a quality assurance system to which all offshore advisers, life offices, trustees and fund managers subscribe and adhere.