In 2009 we approached a firm named Siddals in UK to obtain advice on investments which were to provide an income for our retirement in Spain. We made it very clear that we were not prepared to invest in anything that put our capital at any serious risk. The questionnaire that we completed confirmed our investment profile as “cautious”, which was described as follows: “I am cautious and dislike risk. I prefer security of capital and predictable investments. I accept that this may result in low rates of return being earned on my portfolio. I also accept that interest returns from deposit based investments move up and down, and when compared with the rate of inflation may produce a poor real return.” The proportion of my portfolio allocated to this risk profile was 100%. Siddals was subsequently taken over by the deVere Group.
In November 2009 deVere produced a report that recommended four funds: (a) Aria Absolute Income Protected Fund, (b) EEA Life Settlements Fund (c) Iveagh Wealth Fund, and (c) New Earth Solutions. The Aria fund offered 80% protection of the invested capital.
In June 2010 on the advice of deVere Spain’s managing director we sold our Aria investment and invested heavily in United Asset Management Strategic Growth Fund, United Asset Management Sàrl of Port Valais, Switzerland, (UAM). At that time, and not disclosed by deVere, was the fact that the deVere Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Nigel Green, was the 100% owner of UAM. This is clearly confirmed by the registration records of the Confédération Suisse of which I have copies.
At the time we were given a factsheet that described the fund as being “United Asset Management – Strategic Growth Fund”. The factsheet also stated that “currently, Mr Kellermann acts as the fund manager to United Asset Management”. This refers to Mr Cobus Kellermann, who at that time was joint owner of the Mauritius based Belvedere Management Group with Mr David Cosgrove. In a newsletter in March 2015 deVere claimed to have had a role in exposing alleged investment fraud being carried out by Belvedere. What deVere failed to mention was that the perpetrators of that fraud, Messrs Kellermann and Cosgrove, held senior positions in United Asset Management at the time and were instrumental in the failure of the Strategic Growth Fund.
Mr Cosgrove one of has, due to his failure to comply with the codes of the FSA, subsequently been disqualified by the Financial Services Commission of Mauritius from “holding position as officer in any licensee of the FSC for a period of 5 years”.
According to its News Letters deVere boast that it is the worlds largest “independent financial adviser”. As such it has an obligation to remain completely independent. This obligation was breached by its selling of investments through a company wholly owned by its CEO who was benefiting from an additional layer of fees paid by us as the investors.
In February 2013 deVere informed us of problems with the UAM Strategic Growth Fund and advised us to sell our holdings. We completed a dealing form instructing the sale of those holdings and the purchase of holdings in an alternative fund. Unfortunately, the advice from deVere was given far too late and on 22 February 2013, only five months after Nigel Green disposed of his interests in United Asset Management, the Strategic Growth Fund was suspended. Since 27 October 2015, the fund has been in administration with no guarantee of any monies being recovered by investors.
In November 2015 we submitted a complaint to deVere’s customer relations department. We received a response, not from deVere Customer Relations, but from deVere Corporate Legal. In its various responses to our complaint deVere has endeavoured to distance itself from UAM by saying that the Strategic Growth Fund had nothing to do with UAM. Initially deVere stated that the association between the two on the factsheet was solely for marketing purposes. If that were the case then the fund was, at best, being mis-represented.
deVere then changed its stance by stating that “whilst the fund in question may be labelled as the UAM Strategic Growth Fund by SEB Life International in its statements ...” This is a blatant attempt to distort the truth as the insurer at the time of our investment in UAM Strategic Growth Fund in 2010 was Irish Life International Ltd and not SEB. We also have a series of emails directly from deVere at that time which clearly label the fund as being “United Asset Management Strategic Growth Fund”.
Despite admissions by deVere that there was a serious conflict of interest and that there were other faults on its part the deVere Corporate Legal department constantly looks for loopholes and refuses to consider our complaint on its merits.
Through its unethical approach in advising us to invest in funds that were not appropriate for our risk profile, and its poor management, deVere has caused us to suffer a substantial financial loss and years of stress. This situation warrants financial recompense from deVere to compensate us for loss and stress.
Product or Service Mentioned: Devere Group Consulting Service.
Reason of review: Poor customer service.
I didn't like: Questionable advice given environment and customer profile.