This is from the PFS – Professional Finance Society – my professional body.
The proliferation of investment and pension scams have been a growing concern over the last few years, but since the introduction of pension freedoms unregulated activity has multiplied leaving consumers vulnerable to ever more sophisticated scams.
During 2015/16 more than 3,000 people reported being caught up in scams with an average loss of £32,000. As most scam losses go unreported the actual numbers will be much higher. It is clearly time to take further action and as a profession we have a vested interest in contributing to the wider effort of helping protect consumers.
The 15 minute commitment
I announced at our London Financial Planning Symposium in November that we had joined forces with the FCA in an effort to help protect growing numbers of consumers. Members have been asked to help raise awareness of scams amongst their clients and professional networks. But for personal finance professionals, scams and unregulated investment schemes with overblown promises are easier and quicker to spot than unsuspecting members of the public. We therefore need to mobilise as a united profession to help the authorities by sniffing out and reporting suspicious investments and potential scams.
The small commitment we are asking Personal Finance Society members to make is to spend just 15 minutes per month to help identify and report potential scams. As a profession we have the opportunity to make a huge impact in smoking out and helping close down investment scams before they do too much damage.
Visit the PFS website where there are ideas on how to spend 15 minutes. The website contains information and case study videos along with an overview of the tactics used by scammers. There is also a link to the FCA’s ScamSmart microsite where you can find the latest warning list and details of how you can report a potential scam.
Contact me about this if you wish
It’s not just inexperienced investors who are falling victim to scams; savvy investors are falling victim too and are the target for more sophisticated scams. Affluent retirees aged over 60 are now most likely to be victims.
Just a quarter of people seek the advice of a professional adviser prior to committing to an investment and one in eight people spend little or no time researching investment products before handing over the money. It’s time our profession played its part in demonstrating the value of professional advice and helping protect consumers from the unscrupulous.