22 February 2012

Bidding war for Financial Advisers - what it means for you

News that major players in the financial services industry are involved in a bidding war for financial advisers should alert investors that they may be left paying the bill for irresponsible behavior by the employers of these advisers. After all, more pay for the lucky advisers who have large amounts of money lavished on them means that they are expected to 'produce' fees and commissions that justify their increased income. This could well tempt some - or the majority - among them to put their customer's money into investments that are selected not because they are particularly suitable but because they result in higher fee income for the adviser. Investors should therefore be wary whenever their financial consultant changes employer and take independent advice before considering shifting any accounts to a new firm.

9 February 2012

Unbelievable neglect of customer confidentiality!

It is reported that in the course of its agreement with US authorities UBS in Switzerland accepted the obligation to report the destination banks for all US customers. It may have been done via the Swiss authorities but the bank should have been aware of the consequences for its 'clients'.

7 February 2012

Private Banker diverts Sfr 1.5 million and escapes jail!

The selection of an trustworthy financial adviser is of the utmost importance. While no customers of the bank in question have lost any money the case case should still set alarm bells ringing. When the director of a bank can escape a prison sentence even after he admitted that he 'diverted' Sfr 1.5 million from commission payments to his own accounts the sentence demonstrates that crimes by banking and finance professionals are still not punished in the same way as crimes by 'ordinary' criminals and investors should be extra careful when selecting a financial adviser. That the banker in question enjoyed a basic annual salary of  Sfr 240'000 and at one stage received an annual bonus of Sfr 816'000 is proof for the extent of his greed.

5 February 2012

What are 'complex financial products'?

An arbitration award that related to the sale of a 'complex financial product' illustrates the problem that ordinary investors face when offered these products. In nearly all such situations they find themselves at a severe disadvantage vis-a-vis the salesperson or financial adviser. It is like asking the patient to make a judgement about the correct procedure when faced with cancer. So trust is of paramount importance in any relationship between an investor and financial professionals. Sadly, we can only recommend to always get a second opinion from a neutral expert before buying any financial instrument as the layman cannot really know when an investment vehicle is 'complex' enough to warrant special caution and analysis.