Independent Financial Advisers – Are these guys sharks or dolphins?

The leading Bangkok English language magazine for ex-pats BIG CHILLI has come under flak today from an investment watchdog site for a two page advertorial it is carrying promoting a new financial services agency, which appears to be born out of MBMG International.

Lindell Lucy’s says on his site ‘The Rape of Hong Kong’: “Over the past year, Big Chilli has published several articles about the financial devastation caused by unscrupulous, unlicensed “financial advisers”.

“The magazine appeared to be committed to alerting the public to the deceptions, rip-offs, and criminality which have plagued the country’s financial services sector. Now, sadly, Big Chilli has become a facilitator.”

The advertorial ‘Swimming with the Dolphins or Drowning with the Sharks:   Who is looking after your investments?’ promotes SEAC (South East Asia Capital).

“The advertorial is loaded with blatantly false, misleading, and hypocritical statements, but that’s only the beginning of the problems, “writes Lucy.

All of SEAC’s directors—Ian Ferguson, Billy Popham, and Stephan Tierney—previously worked at MBMG International, which is on the SEC’s Investor Alert List.

The advertorial is impressive. It gives the impression that SEAC provides a proper and honest service in an area where Independent Financial Advisers have a reputation only a notch or two above “boiler rooms’ and possible two notches below pay-day loan sharks.

MBMG with one of its co-bosses Graham Macdonald being a former President of the British Chamber and a recipient of the M.B.E. – a fact it played on heavily – was former claimant to the being the whitest of IFA companies in Bangkok – that is until we got our teeth into.

This is not my investigation and I should point out that ‘Big Chilli’ did put a lot of effort into helping victims of the LM – MPF scam. But then again the magazine has taken a lot of adverts for boiler room establishments over the years.

Colin Hastings publisher of ‘Big Chilli’ when asked to comment replied: “Its an advertorial as you noted.”

You can read the advertorial hereand ‘The Rape of Hong Kong’ article here. Its a long detailed and interesting read.

However my personal favourite part of this two page advertorial was the following question SEAC posted itself….Can you advise people – see cut-out right)

The bosses of ‘Big Chilli’ would have known of course that, RLI 360. Friends Provident, Generali and Skandia (Old Mutual) all put up LM MPF as a fund with their seal of approval and thus played a major part of the ruin of many people.

And does the last sentence mean, er, ‘but we know some people who ARE regulated’ ?

Declaration: Up until the LM MPF crash this site carried advertisements for Global Investments which had millions of (now lost) investors’ money in the fund. We do not recommend any site which is not registered with the authorities. Nor, incidentally, do we believe that registering with the Thai authorities should give the investor much confidence.

In short we do not recommend any IFAs based in Thailand or who have addresses in banana (offshore) republics.