There’s nothing like living a dream and the top spot in my nominations for people who are doing so in Thailand must go to the Bangkok Post’s financial advice columnist Andrew Wood who has survived three financial scandals and continues to be retained by the newspaper.

I don’t think they pay him anything because he gets a free plug for the company he works for PFS – Platinum Financial Services – one of Bangkok’s many financial advice companies not registered with the Thai Securities Exchange Commission.

My attention was brought to him today when I was caught by the headline in the Post’s Spectrum (I usually read this Sunday section days later) the ‘Underlying Costs of Having Children’.  It was billed as an Investigative Report so I read on.

But having got to the eighth paragraph ( I am raising kids aged 2,4 and 6)  and learned nothing I scrolled down to the end and saw this. I had missed Wood’s name at the top.

“Andrew Wood has been an expat in Asia for 35 years and is executive director with PFS International. He has been writing Net Worth articles for seven years and has made a significant contribution to the PFS library of financial service articles dating back over 10 years. These articles, which cover the complete A-Z of financial planning, are available to readers on request. Questions to the author can be directed to PFS International etc. etc.”

Oh dear. He we go again.  Andrew Wood is on his fourth strike and not out.

The first strike was when, through Barclay Spencer , he sold unfortunate clients shares of London Nominees CTA in the ‘Football Fund’.  
This fund crashed disastrously and was exposed in a documentary aired on Britain’s Channel 4.

Andrew Leppard who ran London Nominees and got his colleagues at Barcley Spencer to sell the fund to its clients ended up running a launderette in Pattaya – but he’s now back in the Expat financial field running courses for people to protect themselves from people like him.

The second strike came when Wood sold his clients shares in Axiom Legal Financing.

Once again clients lost thousands and Axiom was exposed on Offshore Alert as nothing more than a Ponzi scheme in which the financial advisers were pulled in by the lure of very attractive commissions.

From Offshore Alert

The third strike came when he sold clients shares in Centaur Litigation another Ponzi which went into liquidation earlier this year along with over us $10 million of client assets. Liquidators are looking for the directors Australian Scott Williams and Briton Brendan Terrill.

The fourth and latest strike came of course when he sold clients share in LM Managed Performance Fund which of course readers of this site will know a lot about.

LM similarly offered financial advisers attractive rates – up to 9 per cent of their clients money if they could lock them in for three years – but as it turned out everyone was locked in anyway as they were not giving redemptions. Now they will be lucky to get 5 cents on the dollar.

South China Morning Post financial writer Benjamin Robertson singled out Andrew Wood after he quoted Bangkok expat Charles Baker as saying: ‘I have not a clue [who to complain to] and I don’t trust anyone here.”

In July 2011 67-year-old Baker invested all the money £137,168 he had saved for living expenses and his daughter’s education locking it up for 3 years. At that time LM had long since stopped paying redemptions and Wood knew it.

At his age there is no way Baker can make it up. He was sold the policy by Wood at Barclay Spencer (which also was never registered) the for-runner to PFS.

Wrote Benjamin Robertson: “Baker’s adviser at Barclay Spencer, Andrew Wood, says he became aware of fund redemption delays in 2010 and started telling clients in 2011. 

“Baker says Wood did tell him about the delay when they met in person, but he can’t recall the exact date. He strongly believes it was after he made the three-year investment. 

“I find it unlikely I would have put my money into something where I would not get it back,” says Baker. 

“Wood declined to comment on whether he remembered the date of the meeting and on whether he pitched the fund as low risk. He did say his company had visited LM’s Australia offices and conducted a number of due diligence checks. 

“These included a review of LM’s accounts and registration details. In the future, Wood says “stricter standard due diligence tests” should be applied to investments by advisers and regulators. 

“In 2009, Wood’s firm was acquired by Hong Kong-based Platinum Financial Services. A spokeswoman for Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) says it can find no record of a licence being granted to his firm, under either of its names, or to Wood himself.  

“The spokeswoman says it is an offence to give investment advice without a licence in Thailand. Wood was asked by Post Magazine to provide proof that he and his firm are licensed. He did not do so.”

From my memory the South China Morning Post has a 51 per cent stake in the Bangkok Post (Post Publishing) It also appears they have much smarter financial writers.

Wood is not going to queer his own patch – But I might take advice on how to financially take care of my kids by asking the cashier at Mothercare.

No point in remonstrating with the Bangkok Post. But what a great example of ‘plus ca change’ in Thailand.

With apologies to those straight ifa’s out there!

About the Author

Andrew Drummond

Andrew Drummond is a British independent journalist and occasional television documentary maker. He is a former Fleet Street, London, journalist having worked at the Evening Standard, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, News of the World, Observer and The Times.

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