Colin Kneale, a senior partner with deVere Group (Geneva) called me in August 2010, telling me he understood I was a British citizen now resident in Switzerland.
He asked whether I had pension savings back in the UK and, if so, with how many different institutions. I confirmed that I did, and explained these funds were spread across four different funds.
He then told me that I could benefit from the QROPS programme, established by law in the UK in 2006, which allowed UK citizens no longer resident in the UK to move their pension savings into offshore accounts that met specific criteria. He explained that by doing this, I could consolidate those various savings into a single account, making things easier to manage and make my money “work harder”.
I agreed to meet him to discuss.
At that meeting, he asked me to provide details of my UK pension accounts and to sign a letter authorising him to act on my behalf. I did this.
A few months later, he told me that my UK pension funds had been consolidated and had a total value of £154,947.
He then asked what level of risk I was willing to take with those funds and I explained, several times, that as these were my pension savings, my appetite for risk was very low.
Colin recommended a plan with Providence Capital, the trustees of which were Sovereign Trust Limited. He assured me this investment was low risk, ideal for pensions as it would ensure the funds kept pace with inflation. The fund was established in February 2011. Of the £154,947, Providence Capital invested £153,197 in a bond with Royal Skandia International and deducted £1,750 for first year Trustee fees.
Royal Skandia subsequently invested those funds in Four Elements Strategic Growth Plus securities.
In March 2012 I received a valuation of the fund for year end 2011 which showed a slight decline to £145,684. At the end of 2012, the fund had reduced to £134,130 . At the end of 2013, the valuation was £109,087. At no time did anyone from deVere advise me to move my funds elsewhere. By the time I received the 2013 statement and sought to do so, I was told the account had been frozen. Today, it appears there is virtually no hope of recovering any of my savings.
Given that (a) this entire event was prompted by an unsolicited call from a deVere agent, (b) I gave specific instruction that the investment vehicle for my pension savings be low risk and (c) at no time did deVere advise me to move the fund's elsewhere (advice that was offered to other clients), I believe deVere has failed in its duty of care. I would therefore ask the company to restore my pension fund to its start value, as defined in the annual valuation certificate I receive from Sovereign Trust.
Reason of review: Bad quality.
Monetary Loss: $200000.
Preferred solution: Full refund.