Financial services regulation needs reform to beat scams

Victims told us they would like to see clearer warnings from government or providers - any kind of intervention - at the point the pension is transferred out. They want to be told 'don't do this' at some point in the process so that it becomes clear to them that this might not be the sensible idea they had been convinced - by (rogue) regulated financial advisers - it was.

They also said they wanted the FCA to do more to crack down on scammers earlier on and that there must be better cooperation between authorities policing the unregulated and regulated spaces, so tie-ups between unregulated firms and advisers can be detected earlier on.

Adviser Ricky Chan, director at IFS Wealth & Pensions, went further to say the regulator should put an outright ban on high risk unregulated products.

He said: “The issue is that these unregulated and extremely speculative investments, which typically are storage pods, car parking spaces, development in the Caribbean etc., were and are clearly unsuitable for pension funds but the FCA has resisted an outright ban for no good reasons. 

“Apart from greed, I cannot see why any prudent adviser or investor would look to invest in these, so a ban should be the only option as this has led to an increasing number of Fos & FSCS complaints and compensation.”

The authorities have said they are doing everything they can to crack down on rogues and outright scammers but the problem is they rely on the regulated entities to play gatekeepers and the consumers themselves to safeguard their money.

However, there are signs the regulator's messages simply are not reaching their target audience and consumers want more intervention in the process of selling financial products. 

The victims agreed something more radical needs to be done as experience has shown that, by the time the regulators are in a position to act, it is often too late.

The FCA was invited to respond but declined to provide any new comment on scams in response to our investigation.