Independent financial advisors in Geneva

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I recently moved from Paris to Geneva to work with an international organization here and have been approached by a representative of a company which claims to be the world's largest independent offshore advisory company and which opened a branch here not too long ago. Although they cold-called me at work and didn't explain how they got my number (which gave me pause for thought... is that even legal here?), I agreed to meet their advisor, as I need to sort out my finances and thought I might as well start with this. The advisor seemed knowledgeable/competent/straightforward, etc. and was pretty thorough with his questions about my financial background and marital/inheritence status, but since I am not financially knowledgeable and have no experience of dealing with advisors, I have no way of telling how reliable any subsequent advice from the company might be. Nor do I know if they are regulated and if their advice is in any way guaranteed. The advisor said he had 20 years experience as a financial advisor and mentioned the name of a large firm with which he said he'd been associated, but I have no way of telling whether this is true. I've checked the company's website (for some reason, they don't have any written material about themselves), and there is a disclaimer on the first page telling you that they bear no legal responsibility for any information contained in the website. There are quite a lot of references to them on the internet, and they seem to have branches in a lot of places. A couple of things I've been wondering about are: (1) can such a big company really be independent, and (2) if an "independent financial advisor" is an actual profession in the UK requiring specific qualifications, do this company's advisors have these qualifications? Does anyone know how to tell whether the company/advisor is reliable?

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Number 10 1180632734





I work in this field myself and can offer some simple advice when looking to use an IFA.


You will find that most global companies of this type have a presence in most major business centres. They are particularly active in the far and middle east.


Regarding the cold calling, I don't know what the specific regulations are regarding this in Switzerland but it is certainly not rare for IFA's to source clients in this fashion. Not all IFA's work in this way however, and as to how they obtained your information - well that could be one of a number of ways.


The important thing with a financial advisor is your personal comfort with the individual. You will have a pretty good idea from the meeting you've had whether they are someone that you would like to work with over a long period of time and so aside from the professional issues this should be the first question you ask yourself.


Do some research on the company, it sounds like you have already - but my advise would be don't necessarily treat an individual's words as gospel. Do your own research and draw your own conclusions as to whether they are the right outfit for you.


In terms of regulations etc. You should check that a) the advisor is qualified to do the job and b) that the company he is representing is legitimised within the duristiction in which they are advising you.

Angleterre79 1180633852

Thanks for your reply, Number 10.


"Regarding the cold calling, I don't know what the specific regulations are regarding this in Switzerland but it is certainly not rare for IFA's to source clients in this fashion. Not all IFA's work in this way however, and as to how they obtained your information - well that could be one of a number of ways."


What kind of ways? My name isn't in a public phone book. They used my work number. Couldn't tell me how they got my name. Said they worked from references, but didn't give me the name of a person who might have referred them. It's very puzzling.


"The important thing with a financial advisor is your personal comfort with the individual. You will have a pretty good idea from the meeting you've had whether they are someone that you would like to work with over a long period of time and so aside from the professional issues this should be the first question you ask yourself."


Do you mean that if I think that the person is a nice guy who I could talk to, that's what matters?


"Do some research on the company, it sounds like you have already - but my advise would be don't necessarily treat an individual's words as gospel."


The thing is that I'm not financially knowledgeable, and if the person says they are a financial expert, I go to them in good faith as a customer and expect them to be giving me reliable advice. Surely it goes with out saying that they're going to tell me the truth, if they expect me to be upfront and honest with them. That is in fact what this guy said to me first off. "Tell me all about yourself. You've got to be completely honest with me."


Dave-134472 1180634841




Regarding the cold calling: after our initial consultation, the guy I spoke with (from another company) asked me to provide names and contact numbers for other individuals I thought might be interested in his services. This was presented as a reasonable request in return for a free consultation. No doubt that's how he found me in the first place and that's probably how this company works too. So, ask around your friends/colleagues and you'll probably find someone who gave him your name.

Angleterre79 1180635534

OK, thanks Dave. I could try that. Have so many colleagues, however, that I wouldn't know where to start! I thought it would be easier just to ask him. When I did ask him how he got my name, he kind of dodged the question and started talking about something else. If a colleague of mine, let's say Mr X, had passed on my name, you'd think that the advisor would have said "I got your name from Mr X. I'm advising him too". Apart from anything else, that would surely boost the advisor's credibility. The advisor said that they work by recommendation/word of mouth only, which implies that satisfied customers are passing on the advisor's or company's name to people they know, not the other way round.


Which company was phoning you?

ChrisWatson 1180636690

Ask him how exactly much commission he and his company are getting for the product they recommend and ask him to put it in writing. This is a perfectly reasonable request which any FSA-approved IFA operating in the UK is expected to grant you. You need to know this in order to know how well any proposed investment will perform and how its growth will be affected by commission charges. If he says he can't or won't do this, or in any way is vague or avoids telling you, leave by the nearest available exit.


Bear in mind that cold-callers, whether they're offering financial advice or baskets of pegs, tend to want to sell you something.

Angleterre79 1181040203

Well, I did try to ask about commission, but he told me the service was free and that they were paid by the investment companies. He said he didn't know exactly how much he was being paid in commission, as it was company policy not to tell them.

Jivebaby-134257 1181090747

A79


I've worked in finance all my life and what you have outlined seems very odd. The fact that the IFA "found" you is not surprising, however their reluctance to reveal the rreferal slource should ring alarm bells as there is no reason why this should not be revealed. Secondly it is common practise for IFA to reveal commision rate up front on a transparent basis. I do not know is this is mandatory in Switzerland or not. If they won't reveal their interest then why should you trust them.


Lastly, as mentioned, if you don't feel comforatble, trust your instincts: As you've just arrived why rush anyway?




Jivebaby

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