deVere Group Awards, Accolades and Accusations

Lisa Smith, BA (Hons), CeFA

Owing to its status as the largest and the highest profile expat financial advisory firm in the world, deVere Group often comes under scrutiny.

But rarely has it received this scrutiny in such extreme forms as it has this week.

On the one hand, deVere Group CEO, Nigel Green, posted a blog in which he highlights the recent slew of prestigious awards the company has been handed from several key media organisations. News of some of these awards has been picked up by influential media outlets, including Bloomberg.

This celebratory news is, however, set against a backdrop of tabloid newspapers in the US reporting that a former employee is suing the company for alleged harassment in its New York office; whilst another in Hong Kong is claiming that the firm has been suspended by the local regulator.

Quite a week of ups and downs.

deVere awards

In his ‘deVere Awards and Accolades’ blog, Green states: “The awards just keep on coming in 2015 for deVere Group.

“The awards season is certainly gaining momentum in 2015 and I am incredibly proud of everything deVere has achieved. I would like to congratulate everyone across our global network of offices for all their hard work.

“Here’s to achieving even greater success in years to come! Well done deVere!”

It would appear the man who founded the expat financial advice group in 2002, has reason to be cheerful.

deVere was named winner of the ‘Excellence in Independent Financial Advice – Global’ Award in the Innovation & Excellence Awards 2015.

The Corporate LiveWire 2015 Awards Director, Leah Jones says of this recognition: “I’m simply thrilled to announce deVere Group as the winner of Excellence in Independent Financial Advice – Global’.

“The judging panel at Corporate LiveWire has set its sights firmly on the most innovative, ground-breaking and client-focused firms that have transformed the way in which companies and individuals do business. Each and every winner has shown excellence, innovation and strong commitment over the past calendar year. Other winners include, EDF Group, LinkedIn, Google, Deloitte and PwC to name a few.”

In the 2015 Business Excellence Awards, deVere has won the category of ‘Best Independent Financial Consultancy Group – International’.

Nathan Angell of the Business Excellence Awards team comments: “I would like to congratulate deVere Group for winning the title of “Best Independent Financial Consultancy – International” in the 2015 Business Excellence Awards.

“Our Business Excellence Awards are quickly becoming one of our most popular, with businesses all over the globe eager to showcase the amazing work they’ve been doing to achieve stellar results for their clients while really setting the standards for what can be achieved in their sector.

“We’re proud to be able to showcase deVere Group amongst some of the most innovative and committed organisations from across the business world and they can be rightly proud of the game-changing work they’ve been doing over the past 12 months.”

The man at the top of the firm was also personally named as the recipient of two awards: ‘Ops Business Person of the Year’ at the FTF Awards and ‘‘UAE – Gamechanger of the Year (Financial Consultancy)’ at the 2015 ACQ Global Awards.

The first was in recognition of his campaigning against America’s recent global tax law, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA. Green has been a vocal critic of this legislation, which as has reported seriously and negatively impacts the estimated 7 million US expats worldwide.

On his blog on this award specifically, he writes: “This win will also act as a vehicle for deVere Group to speak out more on tax and personal finance matters to add value and assist our clients as much as possible.

“Winning the ‘Ops Business Person of The Year’ award will provide even further incentive to continue the anti-FATCA campaign and resign this polemical law to the history books.”

For her part, Maureen Lowe, president of FTF, affirms: “We had more than 250 nominations overall and nearly 10,000 votes, making this year’s awards’ season the most competitive FTF has ever seen. To be recognised as being the best by the industry itself, is something to be truly proud of.”

Of the second personal award, organised by ACQ and which will be featured on CNN and the BBC, Green is reported as saying: “Whilst I’m thrilled by this prestigious award, I would like to take the opportunity to say: it is not for me – it is for every member of our UAE-based teams for their phenomenal hard work, dedication and commitment to providing a world-class service to our clients.”

deVere accusations

Whilst the accolades continue to pour in for deVere Group – with a nomination in the Best Investment Management Company – East Asia’ category in the International Finance Magazine awards, with winners announced imminently – it has not been an easy week in other areas.

The story broke on Tuesday that an ex-deVere financial coordinator based in New York has filed a lawsuit against the boss of the firm’s US operations, Benjamin Alderson, and against the company itself.

She claims that she was the victim of harassment for being a woman, being married to a black American footballer player, and for her Christian religious beliefs. She alleges she was demoted for having reported that she felt she was “a target”.

As the story began to gain coverage in the tabloids, a deVere spokesman was forced to issue this statement, refuting the claims:

“These false and incredulous allegations made by a disgruntled former employee are vigorously and categorically denied. We are shocked and dismayed that a legitimate employment termination has sparked such a malicious response.

“Unfortunately, we are very limited about what we can say about this as it’s subject to legal proceedings, but we pledge to clear the names of those wrongly accused and look forward to doing so in court.”

In other less welcome news for deVere, a newspaper in Hong Kong set out claims that deVere had been suspended by the Hong Kong financial services regulator, the CIB.

Once again, the spokesperson issued a strongly worded denial. The statement reads: “Shell company deVere Hong Kong was sold last year and the new owners are in the process of changing the company’s name.   It would be inaccurate and misleading to in any way involve or link deVere Group to this suspension highlighted in the SCMP article.

Regarding the CIB investigation, as the entity currently has no chief executive or any company representatives, we understand that it has been temporarily suspended, as would be expected.

I would suggest the new owners of the company formerly known as deVere Hong Kong are contacted for comment on this CIB investigation.

The article falsely accuses Mr Green of purchasing “other brokerages to enable his business to operate” and of “rebranding”. This is simply false. The example they provide, namely Acuma Hong Kong Limited, is not a “rebranded” company of deVere Hong Kong. It is a separate entity with a separate business model. The accusations are unfounded and groundless.”

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