Days after the Financial Conduct Authority enacted changes to pension transfer rules intended to safeguard scheme members, a group of Brits living overseas has accused the DeVere Group of losing significant portions of their retirement savings.
An allegation the company denies.
Some of those affected were NHS nurses and dentists, employees of oil and construction companies as well as wealthy expats, according to newspaper The Times.
They allege that they were cold-called by DeVere advisers and convinced to transfer their money out of their traditional UK pots, including lucrative NHS pension schemes, into investments – some of which incurred high charges and undisclosed commissions.
Many claimed they didn’t know the investments were unregulated and often high-risk.
A spokesperson for DeVere Group told International Adviser: “The [Times] article has a high number of false allegations and many inaccuracies.
“DeVere reviews all complaints on their merits. We have no wish to answer blogs. We reply to all clients and deal with them fairly by email through the proper procedure.
“The reasons for the fund choices and the advice given at the time are documented and were correct at the time of the investment. The choice of fund was approved by and signed for the former clients. All charges were fully disclosed, approved by and signed for by the former clients.”
According to the British newspaper, investors were left trying to track down their holdings by following a trail of accounts in tax havens, after they were not able to contact their DeVere adviser.
But when they tried to complain, the expats claimed they couldn’t get much help from either local regulators nor from the FCA or UK ombudsman, as some reported losing as much as half of their savings.
Others tried to share their experience of the firm, after which they claim to have received ‘cease and desist’ letters from DeVere, while others were offered large confidential settlements, including one expat who was offered £79,000 ($105,800, €92,270) by the firm’s lawyers to not speak to the press about their experience.
In August 2021, a group of expats set up a Facebook page called ‘Financial ruin by DeVere advisors in all corners of the world’ to share their experiences of DeVere’s practices and their advisers. At publication, the group had 97 members.