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Cases Show Need for Caution in Choosing Financial Advisers

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Recent reports showing an increase in fraud, and newspaper headlines regarding the conviction of a banker and financial adviser after more than £1.4 million was stolen from the investment accounts of elderly clients, should serve as a reminder that if you are entrusting others to manage your money, you should take the necessary precautions.

In the UK, anyone offering financial services must be authorised by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), which requires members to adhere to strict standards and to have indemnity insurance. If you use advisers situated abroad or unregulated advisers (giving financial advice for gain without being licensed to do so is an offence, but it does still happen), you may be taking an unnecessary risk.

The following should make you particularly suspicious:

  • If you are offered an investment promising a rate of return well above the market rate;
  • If you are told that your investment is in shares but will be ‘safe’;
  • If you are approached by telephone by ‘investment advisers’ you do not know;
  • If the advisers do not have a UK place of business; and
  • If the adviser cannot give you full details of their registration with the FSA.

There is a seemingly inexhaustible supply of dubious characters with silver tongues seeking to separate trusting souls from their money. If you have concerns, do your homework before you part with any money.