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AdviserWatch – Financial Firms To Avoid

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In a new monthly series starting from October 2015, we’ll be naming the latest investment firms to be denounced or investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

You should avoid dealing with any of the firms named in this list at all costs.

Firms are required to be authorised by the FCA before they offer you financial advice. Unfortunately, some firms operate without authorisation – they may be fraudulent or they may simply provide poor financial advice that leaves you with a mis-sold investment product, completely unsuitable for your needs.

Of course, your top priority will be to take every precaution against poor financial advice, unscrupulous sales tactics and fraud.

But if you mistakenly deal with an unauthorised adviser, you may not be protected by the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme should things go wrong.

The firms in this list:

  • Had a public warning against them published by the FCA in the last month
  • Have had their FCA authorisation revoked
  • Were never authorised by the FCA
  • Have been investigated for fraudulent activity

It’s important to note that this list can’t account for every unauthorised firm in the country – if the firm doesn’t appear on this list, you should never assume that it’s legitimate.

AdviserWatch List – October 2015

Taking Action Against Unauthorised Companies

If you’re contacted by a financial company and you’re suspicious about their activities, it’s advisable to get in touch with the FCA or FOS as soon as possible. By doing so, you’ll be helping to protect other people from falling foul of unscrupulous businesses.

How to Find Out Whether a Firm is Authorised by the FCA

If you know the name of the company you’re planning to invest your money with, it’s easy to check whether they’re approved by the FCA or not, by simply searching their Register. However, it’s a good idea to regularly check the companies that have been blacklisted by the FCA and other financial regulatory bodies.

Types of Companies Blacklisted by the FCA

There are a huge number of companies blacklisted by the FCA. Generally speaking, they fall into two main categories:

1. Clone companies. This scam, referred to as being a ‘clone firm’, involves the fraudulent business adopting the name, details and even firm reference number (FRN) of a real company. Obviously, it’s especially difficult to detect whether or not a company is genuinely who they say they are or not. However, a common tactic clone companies employ is to cold call prospective victims, and to use pressurised sales techniques.

2. Unauthorised companies. Some firms approach customers in the UK without seeking authorisation from the FCA first. They may be based in the UK or could be based abroad. If you suspect that you’re dealing with an unauthorised company, you should be especially careful, as they may be knowingly running scams. If you do choose to use their services, it’s important to note that you’ll find it difficult to seek compensation if you do lose your money through negligent or fraudulent practice.

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