InvestmentsJun 8 2020

Millions unlocked as adviser buys client book of failed DFM

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Millions unlocked as adviser buys client book of failed DFM
ByRachel Mortimer

A UK-based advice firm has bought the client book of failed wealth manager SVS Securities PLC, meaning clients could next month access their share of £24m in funds secured by administrators.

SVS Securities entered special administration in August 2019 after the Financial Conduct Authority identified "serious concerns" about the way in which the wealth manager was operating. 

The regulator found some of the company's 19,000 clients had paid fees and charges as high as 20 per cent of their total investment.

In an update today (June 8) financial advice and investment services company ITI Capital confirmed it had bought the client book from SVS Securities, with the "vast majority" of clients expected to transfer on June 11. 

This means clients could access their money, which has been beyond reach for almost a year, again from as early as mid-July. 

In March administrators Leonard Curtis confirmed about £24m of client funds had been secured, with the majority of investors expected to reclaim their money.

At one time more than 100 brokers were interested in purchasing the SVS client book, with a transfer of company assets advised to be the "quickest and most cost effective" way to return funds to SVS clients.

Earlier this year administrators confirmed a regulated broker had been selected and heads of terms agreed for the transfer of client funds, but until now the identity of the buyer had remained unknown. 

Rahul Agarwal, managing director for UK private clients at ITI Capital, said the broker appreciated clients had not been able to access their assets for almost a year.

Mr Agarwal said: "We are doing what we can to speed up the process for these clients.

"We are thrilled to welcome the SVS client base to ITI and we are confident that we will be able to deliver a much superior proposition at a competitive price to the client base.

"These clients will be able to trade almost any asset class, globally, all via a single online platform and our advisory service is a true hybrid model where we plan on leveraging technology to offer a customised as well as an automated advisory service."

The FCA first intervened at SVS when it conducted "urgent" supervisory work after receiving a tip-off about the assets in which the company was investing the money of its clients.

Following this the watchdog ordered SVS to cease all regulated activities and it collapsed into administration in August last year. 

The regulator found the company was targeting IFAs to promote its model portfolios to clients after a defined benefit pension transfer or Sipp switch.

The City watchdog warned the proportion of illiquid and high-risk bonds in these model portfolios were unlikely to match the needs of clients. 

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