Rogue financial advisers are swarming around British expats in Cyprus putting their life savings at risk.
Regulated financial firms on the Mediterranean island have warned the advisers are tempting expats with promises of high returns from risky investments.
Some of the firms are operating without a licence, they claim.
They may seem regulated as they hold a licence to give advice from the Cyprus Insurance Company Control Service, a local financial watchdog.
But that does not cover them to give advice about bonds backed by underlying investments.
Check out your adviser
Expats are advised to check out the advisers by asking some key questions, including:
- Do you deal with regulated providers?
- Where can I find your license details?
- Where can I find your company’s details on the regulator’s website?
- What are your qualifications and professional background?
- What are your company’s qualification requirements?
- Do you have a complaints policy in place?
- Can I access your company’s policies and procedures online?
One adviser, Michael Doherty, chief executive of financial firm the Woodbrook Group, said: “There are still many unregulated companies operating without the correct licensing, and we have heard many stories involving clients who have not seen or heard from their consultant after they placed their initial investment.
“When it comes to financial planning it is all about a solid return and managed risk, but more important is managing the downturn. We are living in volatile times, so prudent and trusted management is vital.
“Its vital expats should protect themselves by asking the right questions.”
The Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission is the island’s main regulator. The CySec web site list warnings about unregulated advice firms.
Stories abound about rip-off advisers preying on British expats around the world.
Manita Khuller is pursuing FNB International Trustees through the courts in Guernsey over a £170,000 loss she alleges she made on transferring two UK pensions in to an offshore Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme while living in Thailand.
Regulators in United Arab Emirates have warned several times this year of unauthorised financial advisers operating in Dubai following the conviction of Neil Grant for running an illegal investment business.
Similar warnings have been issued in favourite expat destinations such as France, Spain and Italy.