This week, in my mission to disclose advisory firms´ claims to qualifications (or in fact the lack of them), I am looking into Square Mile International Financial Services – qualified and registered?
What the Square Mile website page says:
Despite referring to their Prague headquarters in a lovely paragraph:
“Square Mile has a dedicated customer care and administrative team based in our headquarters in the beautiful historic Old Town quarter of Prague, in the Czech Republic. Aside from picturesque surroundings, being in the very heart of Europe allows our customer services team to easily service our clients all over Europe, as well as placing us within 90 mins of London’s own ‘Square Mile’ where we have our UK team, and extensive links and partnerships with some of the worlds top financial institutions.”
…their website fails to list their team members, so over to Linkedin to see who the lucky people are.
But, firstly, a bit of background information about Square Mile, just in case you haven´t heard of them.
Square Mile International in Prague is run by David Vilka, a name that has been the star of several other Pension Life blogs. Vilka is linked to the Blackmore Global Investment Fund scam which saw victims’ pensions invested in dodgy AND illegal (for UK residents) UCIS funds. It should also be noted that David Vilka of Square Mile International Financial – was not regulated to give investment advice, but did so anyway.
Vilka transferred at least 65 pensions into a Hong Kong QROPS and then invested them into the Blackmore Global fund, courtesy of Phillip Nunn and Patrick McCreesh of Aspinal Chase. Blackmore Global is an unregulated fund, which has never had an independent audit. Investors fear their pension funds may well be lost, as there is no evidence as to where the money has gone. David Vilka has showed no shame for what he did, and has made no attempt to recover any remainder of his victims´pensions.
So, Square Mile International Financial Services – qualified and registered?
IFAs and their clients are invited to add to this blog, correct it or improve it. Here’s a link to the three registers if you want to double check:
https://www.libf.ac.uk/members-and-alumni/sps-and-cpd-register – Claim to a DipFA
Please note that this data is correct as of 29/08/2018.
Staff list for Square Mile International Prague office:
- David Vilka – Managing Director – DOES NOT APPEAR ON ANY REGISTER – but we knew that already!
- Alan West – Head of Client Services – DOES NOT APPEAR ON ANY REGISTER
Well, the Square Mile International Prague offices´ dedicated customer care and administrative team´ doesn´t inspire much confidence. Only two staff members are listed – one of them is known to be linked to pension scams – and neither has any financial qualifications!
Square Mile International Financial Services – qualified and registered? 0%
On a final note, this is the statement made on the Square Mile retirement solutions section of their webpage:
´PENSION SCAMS & LIBERATION: BE AWARE– No properly authorised scheme should be able to offer benefits to you before age 55 – any scheme offering this facility or any adviser claiming to be able to do this is almost certainly involved in pension liberation. A bonafide scheme, whether UK or International, will be listed on the HMRC website. There is much sensationalism written about pension scams. The truth is that there are many more very good investments opportunities and very few scams in comparison. Good investments don’t sell newspapers so inevitably the few rotten apples make the headlines. Simple steps such as: checking your adviser is regulated in an EEA jurisdiction and is correctly passported into your jurisdiction, checking the levels of remuneration the adviser will receive, checking the lock-in clauses with the investment scheme and any penalties, and confirming directly with any professional advisers, auditors, or lawyers named on the investment of their involvement. Despite what is written an alternative or esoteric investment as part of a portfolio can reap very good rewards if proper research is undertaken.´
Interestingly, David Vilka (pictured here with John Ferguson, who was also involved in the Blackmore Global scam) is not regulated to give financial advice on pensions or investments, but did so anyway. The Blackmore Global scam victims are locked into a toxic investment fund, that should not have been sold to them as UK residents. Furthermore, they face penalties if they wish to withdraw the little they have left in the fund, as they are locked in for 10 years. No move has been made by any of the perpetrators to help these victims.
Square Mile International should be placed at arm´s length by anyone who wants a secure future for their pension fund.