OpinionFeb 16 2023

How many more bad apples are in the adviser barrel?

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How many more bad apples are in the adviser barrel?
In terms of financial advisers, how many bad apples are there? (Aphiwat Chuangchoem/Pexels)

What the Nexus and Campbell & Associates announcements have reminded me is that rarely can people ever 'see it coming'.

We were all stunned to learn the Financial Conduct Authority is investigating Nexus Independent Financial Advisers and Nexus Investment Managers.

It wants to know how nearly £2mn was transferred out of just five clients' accounts over 14 months. According to the FCA, £1.4mn of this was paid into principal Kerry Nelson's personal bank account.

Those facts alone are shocking. 

And it does not take too much Twitter stalking to see how many financial planners and advisers have praised Nelson in the recent past and now feel completely bewildered.

There are photos of her together with well-known industry names. There are respected providers and advisers tweeting admiration for her awards in recent years.

Some have even retweeted comments she made in a rival title's article, in which she said: "More needs to be done to stop scammers and fraudsters".

Big-ticket news stories like this do nothing to help the reputation of the profession

The feeling of shock and surprise when one learns the FCA is investigating her company is real. I feel it, too.

As reported by FTAdviser, the administrators said their appointment was "deemed necessary" because of the sole director’s absence from the business and "due to concerns relating to the director’s conduct".

The rest of the management team is still in place and the business has been marketed for sale. FTAdviser has not been able to contact her. 

And while we are wondering if she is okay, and where she is, and what could possibly have happened in the space of a year that saw Nexus go from winning significant accolades to the company allegedly siphoning off nearly £2mn smackers in 'advice charges', along comes Campbell & Associates

We have learned the FCA has placed restrictions on the Romsey-based company over concerns its sole director may have misappropriated £1.5mn of a client’s funds.

Like Nexus, Campbell & Associates is now prevented from carrying out any regulated activity.

Disappointingly enough in a profession that does not have enough senior female representation, the sole director is, once again, a woman.

Lisa Maureen Campbell is listed as the sole active director of the firm and is holder of senior management functions.

Again, it's absolutely shocking.

Big-ticket news stories like this do nothing to help the reputation of the profession, let alone restore the lost trust of those clients who appear to have been treated as cash cows by the people they paid to manage their money for them.

Charm is deceitful

And while it is easy to dismiss this as being just a few bad apples in the barrel, the fact is, nobody sees this sort of thing coming. How many more rotten apples are lurking around? What have we overlooked? Who have we overlooked?

Charismatic and outspoken advisers have often been courted and feted as shining examples of how to do it right: how to help clients achieve their goals and protect their wealth.

But as we have been reminded: you can't always see it coming.