Suspect pension advisers to be named on watch list

Excellent news:-

Firms and advisers arousing industry suspicions of wrongdoing will be placed on a semi-secret watch list to warn businesses considering working with them.  The Pensions Administration Standards Association (PASA) is working on a closed list with names of pensions schemes and advisers that have been flagged up as potential scammers, to be shared among pension scheme trustees and providers.

Margaret Snowdon, chairman of the association, said the goal of the list isn’t to stop any pension transfers, but to raise awareness among trustees and providers when a name in the list pops up, so they can increase their due diligence.  She said: “Some providers and trustees have their own watch list. What we are looking for is to create a closed network where they can share this information.”  Ms Snowdon is currently in talks with the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, the Financial Conduct Authority, The Pensions Regulator, HM Revenue & Customs and the Pensions Ombudsman to involve them in the creation of the list, which she expects to be launched by the end of the year.

However, details such as how the information will be shared, who will be in charge of the list or how potential legal implications will be avoided are still being discussed, she added.  We understand that the FCA is aware of the creation of this list but it’s not involved in these discussions at this time.

Several industry experts, however, have raised concerns about the efficiency of such watch list.  Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London and former pensions minister, said: “As a provider, and particularly as a member-owned business, we are very keen to explore ways in which we can better protect our members’ money at the point of transfer.  The idea of a list of receiving schemes where concerns have been raised is an interesting one which should be explored, but it would be likely to raise considerable practical and legal difficulties”.

Yes, we agree, but it is vitally important to protect the public from unscrupulous, individuals who give those of us who give good, solid advice a bad name.

FCA ramps up warnings over online investment scams

The FCA is warning the public to be vigilant protecting themselves from online investment fraud, with figures showing investors lost an approximate daily amount of £87,410 to binary options scams last year.  Latest data from the FCA’s Scam Smart campaign shows the kind of investor being targeted by online investment scams is changing.  The regulator says those under 25 were six times (13 per cent) more likely to trust an online investment offer made via social media than people aged above 55.

The data shows more than one in five (23 per cent) survey respondents say online customer testimonies and reviews increase their trust in an investment company.  A further one in 10 (11 per cent) say they wouldn’t conduct any of the listed checks at all, such as checking whether the firm was regulated by the FCA or registered with Companies House, before parting with their money.

FCA has issued a warning on fake regulator legitimising scam and FCA director of enforcement Mark Steward says: “As people have become more sceptical of investment-related cold calls and consumer habits have changed, we have seen investment fraud moving online and to social media.”  He adds: “While their websites and profiles appear to be professional, they are all too often run by fraudsters who fix prices and pay-outs.”

Tom McPhail, of a well known investment house, says investors need to be savvy on recognising unregulated firms.  He says: “The whole investment community including legitimate firms, the regulator and investors themselves must remain alert to the risk of fraudsters trying to separate ordinary people from their hard-earned cash.”

On 3 January, binary options became a regulated investment product, which means all firms trading in these products need to be FCA authorised.  The regulator has since published a list of 94 firms without FCA authorisation that it understands to be offering binary options trading to UK consumers


Where has the time gone, Grandad!

One of my clients, at the age of 43, was horrified recently when one of his team said the words, “alright Grandad”, to him the other day.  What crazy thing had he said to warrant this unprovoked attack?  Well, he had inadvertently used the word, “iPod!”   Yes “iPod” – apparently old tech, old school and confined to the archives.

And its not just iPods; Office 365 has overtaken whatever came before, Windows 10 has replaced DOS 3.1 (joking!) and Facebook keeps being updated to the latest version..

And it’s not just technology.  Financial Services is being updated all the time.  The EC’s MIFID II will shortly be in force as will the GDPR governed by the ICO and the FCA is constantly streamlining their requirements.

What happened to the wee boy of 5 who thought a clockwork spring driven toy car was the bee’s knees and the most up to date toy you could ever have?

New FCA Chairman

Former Slaughter and May lawyer, Charles Randell, who advised Government ministers on the 2008 financial crisis, has been confirmed as the next chairman of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).   Mr Randell, who replaces outgoing chairman John Griffith-Jones, will take up the role on 1 April 2018 and is scheduled to serve a five-year term.