Quality control for financial advisors

42 posts in this topic

Posted

Hello!

I am looking to get some independant financial advice from a financial advisor. I have spoken to two or three such people in the past few months, but I am not very impressed so far.

What I would like to know is if there is some central body which controls/certifies such people or businesses? I think in the UK we had the Financial Services Authority (FSA) who rubber-stamped such companies as being competent. Is there something similar here in Germany?

Are there any websites which rank these types of services or provide feedback forums?

Many thanks in advance for any replies

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Posted

Hi, muenchlaender,

Had any luck yet? I'm looking for the same in the Darmstadt-Frankfurt area. If you do, I'd appreciate your letting me know direct: silverferntranslations@t-online.de.

Thanks.

silverfern

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Posted

If possible, personal referrals are the best way to go.

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Posted

Yeah, I know.

Trouble is, nobody where I live (slightly NE of Darmstadt) seems to know of any suitable company / person. I've asked.

Also, I'm sure the two companies mentioned elsewhere in this webseíte (First Financial Direct and Thomas Zitzelsberger) are very good but they're based in Munich and I prefer to deal with people personally, i.e. eye-to-eye at the same table, rather than by telephone. For financial reasons, going to Munich to see them is not an option. And somehow I don't think it'd be polite to ring those two up and ask them whether they know anybody in the Darmstadt area, either.

But thanks anyway.

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Posted

Personal contact is important for building up trust, but once that's in place then the FA can work from almost anywhere provided you have a fax and/or scanner with email. You suffer only from the inconvenience of having to post forms that need your signature.

I've met Starshollow (on this board) once for a preliminary discussion and we got on well, a larger company that also provide generally good but rather conservative advice is MLP.

Edit: And read my previous posts on this topic - many many advisers here (and probably worldwide) are little short of crooks and they feed on uninformed expats. Be very very careful. I can't over stress that point.

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Posted

The equivalent to the FSA here in Germany is the "BAFIN"

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Posted

Just remembered one more thing to mention: of course for ExPats it is helpful if someone not only speaks English well but has an understanding of the different system you come from and also understands that a different approach is necessary in several areas in the selection of suitable solutions if someone plans to stay in Germany only for a couple of years...

Cheerio

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Posted

How about the Deka Bank? Or the advisors from the Quirin Bank (they all speak English and will come to you) or do you really want to find independent advisors ?

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Posted

Quirin bank is a good choice for all forms of investment since they too offer advice based on a fee instead of a comission. I think the concept is very good and was long time overdue. the only thing I need yet to see are results and feedback from Quirin bank clients, but I have little doubt that the bank will grow and is right on track to outperform most of the "normal" banks.

Which leads directly to DEKA: DEKA is part of Sparkassen-Organisation and has tons of its own DEKA and DEKA-related investment funds and I have yet to see a Sparkassen and DEKA client who has not been made to buy in most cases the bank's own products, regardless if they beat their peers or even the relvant benchmarks. Therefore I would definetly from own second-hand experience (i.e. from seeing bad portfolios of many clients before they start independent advisory process) NOT recommend DEKA or put it on the same level as Quirin bank. You'd be better served with Comdirect or the likes.

An independent advisor, though, has the advantage - if he offers that and can swing it with high professional quality - that he can advise you on insurances, pension planning and investment and even financing/mortgage so that there is on partner who has insight in all your finance issues. Instead of island solutions for investment by the bank, for insurance by the agent etc.

Yet in the end it will always depend on how much you trust the person consulting/advising you and how much of your own energy you want to use for doing a lot research yourself or rather have someone do it for you. And speaking English alone does not mean understanding the situation of an ExPat in full either - it is often not only a language barrier alone which makes the advice ExPats tend to get often somewhat "sub-prime" too from all that I have seen...

Cheerio

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Posted

I have to add from my own experience: make sure your advisor and any brokerage he/she works for are registered with the Gewerbeamt to work in Germany, and talk with the vendor administering any investment (not just the broker) to make sure you were given accurate information on the terms, fees, etc. If the financial advisor company is registered, it's employees should also be registered. They must only advise on and recommend products that are authorised in Germany. If a broker or his company take money from Clients for further investment then a further permission from the Gewerbeamt must be obtained. Registration is a sign that the brokerage is working within legal guidelines, and another way to hold them accountable.

Unfortunately, my advisor was not registered name removed, and he basically stole 18,000 Euros from me by taking a huge commission for signing me up for a 25 year fund without my knowledge. I have a new broker who is negotiating with the vendor, (name removed) but don't know if I will get any of this back. By the way, name removed, who is still based in Munich, left name removed and is now with name removed, based in Frankfurt: I recommend running the other way if you come into contact with either!!! Apparently neither name removed nor name removed are registered.

name removed was referred to me by a friend who is in Finance. I asked to talk to one of his clients, and he referred me to an American in the Finance field as well (with a PhD). With two knowledgeable references, I thought I was safe. Unfortunately not. He basically lied about every aspect of the investment, and after I signed the agreement, he filled in another clause on the agreement, which I had not seen, dictating that the investment term would be 25 years. I understand that he received a hefty commission for this, and I will be struggling to get any money back since I am required to make a high ongoing monthly investment (I was told I could stop the investment at any time and take my money out; I was also told there were no management fees). The documentation he gave me on the investment was very misleading, and I found out later didn't have the right terms. If I could do this again, I would have demanded proof that the advisor was registered in Germany, and talked directly with the vendor about the terms before signing anything. Well, hard lesson learned.

The new advisor I found, Denis Hall is based in the Frankfurt area, and has done an excellent job of negotiating with the vendor, but I don't know yet if he'll be successful in getting liveable terms for the investment yet. Hopefully someone will be forewarned by my mistake, and at least not deal with name removed!!!

Names removed by admin in response to a threat of legal action

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Posted

I have since found somebody to take care of my personal financial affairs.

Now I have a second question.

I am also looking for a reputable independent insurance broker (as opposed to an insurance agent, who only represents one company), preferably in the Darmstadt area, but Frankfurt would also be acceptable as a second choice.

Like my financial advisor, I don't mind if the person/company concerned is German. Anybody got any ideas? Thanks.

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Posted

Anniela: I know the company, because they are also violationg German laws by "cold Calling" and I am trying legally to put a lid on that. I am also collection information on all these creeps like the one you mention and the companies the work for because - as you found out with the help of my esteemed colleague David Hall - they are lacking the proper legal licences. What I am trying right now is to get the relevant authorities, i.e. Gewerbeaufsicht mÜnchen, IHK München-Oberbayern (because the prodcut you signed is most likely an insurance product to beginn with and this requires § 34 D GewO licence to offer) and Ausländermeldeamt in order to make sure that these people are taken care off. I would bet my ... on it, that they also avoid paying taxes, too.

Your advice is to other Expats is very good and hopefully heeded by many - sorry that you had to go thru such a bad experience before.

ONemakr: a good financial advisor will offer both, investment advice and insurance advice because what you need is a 360 degree analysis of your risks and wealth, both. There are several independent advisors advertising here on Toytown and you should find one that comes with good references - though not necessrarily located in Frankfurt. But in my experience, insurance advice can all be done very well by email and phone, at least I cater to lots of clients throughout Germany and so do others.

The Newcomer festival will be coming up in Frankfurt in October and we will be there, if you want to meet people face to face in a first contact... but as I said, other good advisors are advertising here as well, take your pick. At least from the reference here you know with whom you are dealing....

Cheerio

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Posted

Dubious posting removed by admin

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Posted

mitchs: funny that you should just join yesterday with this happy news about your advisor... odd coincidence, don't you think? We have seen this happending before when there were negative postings about a company in Frankfurt for using cold calling and then "selling" and not advising so-called offshore products which are nothing but a major ripp-off when you look at the commissions deducted from your investment.

Mr [adminnote](name removed after legal threat)[adminnote] has so far violated the following laws for which I have proof:

1. he used and uses cold-calling to contact people, for instance at the European Patent Office and company GoreTex. I have sworn affidavits to that regards and will use them at court soon enough to put a stop to that

2. The offshore products he sells - and mind you, this is not an advisory process which would have to take under consideration German laws and possibilities to reduce taxes IN Germany etc - is an insurance policy, usually by GEnerali Insurance or ZUrich (there are other products available but those I found most often). In order to offer insurance products in Germany you have to have a license according to § 34 d GewO. Since this is a federal register it is easy to find out if someone is registered there or not. He is not, thus he is violatiing again a major law here

3. He most likely also does not have a license as financial advisor according to § 34 c GewO - at least the city of Munich where he claims to live could not confirm any to me when demanded in writing to check this out

So, I think no one in his clear mind would want to deal with someone who so blatantly violates major German laws which are there, btw, to protect consumers.

On top of that the VVG, the law that governs how insurance contracts are offered etc requires with each quote to fully disclose the amount deducted from the money paid in for both adminsitration and commissions. The disclosure must be transparent and show an amount listed in EUR. REcent quotes I have seen do not include this, obviously to hide that for -forinstance - a 25 or 30 year contract the "investor" (i.e. victim) pays 28 (!) of his monthly contributions for costs and mostly commissions before his own investment actually starts. This is waht Anniela refered to and there are many such cases... SO, yet another violation of German laws and consumer protection.

Also a minute of the advisory process is required in Germany, which I have not seen from him yet and much more.

So, mitchs: all leads to the conclusion that you are just writing some nice lines for Mr [adminnote](name removed after legal threat)[adminnote] to reduce the internet damage from all the information that has now come out eventually. Me and other registered and licensed advisors are trying to put a stop to his doing and we will finally be at one of his client meetings when he suspects it the least together with a nice guy from the German police to make sure he either follows the GErman laws or leaves the country.

That's all I have to say, others who are long-time members at Toytown and trustworthy can add their experience

Cheerio

PS: if he doesn't like what I write here, at least he knows where to find me - while his address, both business and private, are a mystery to everyone...

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Posted

By the way, several Toytowners have written to me since I posted my experience above, and have similar fraudulent policies created by [adminnote](name removed after legal threat)[adminnote]. Please make sure your financial advisor is registered (ask for proof), and warn anyone you know who may be investing to watch out for [adminnote](name removed after legal threat)[adminnote]!

I'll be happy to give you more details or answer questions if you send me a note, and would be glad to hear from anyone who has a similar situation since multiple clients have more pull with the vendors.

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Posted

I´m not particular happy with my current expat financial advisory firm in Frankfurt. Have you heard of redacted? What do you make of them? Like I said I´m not particulary happy with the advice I´ve been given on my investments which I subsequently took at the end of last year nor the customer service which only seems to be important to them if you wish to be investing more money!

Onemark: How is the one you found?

Anniele: Are you still happy with Denis Hall?

Are either or both of you able to give me the contact details?

Thanks.

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Posted

Joppo: for legal reasons I´ll be careful what I say and think about a certain investment group you may have inadvertently mentioned once on an internet forum somewhere. Suffice to say, you (everyone) should always check to see whether any advisor - whether insurance or investment or both - is legally registered in Germany as a tied-agent,independent broker etc, and has a professional liability insurance (ask for proof if you feel like it).

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Posted

John. I appreciate your reply. I see you are based in Hamburg but do you know and are able to recommend any financial advisors in the Frankfurt area?

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Posted

Joppo: no, I don´t know anybody in the Frankfurt area I could recommend. Tbat doesn´t mean there aren´t any . Let´t put it this way: you could look at the Toytown advertising board for financial/insurance services and call some people. No one ( I hope ) will be offended if you ask for proof of their legality as advisors. All will give best advice, I´m sure , as a poor reputation on this forum would not be very useful!

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Posted

Joppo - if you just invest a bit of time to search the internet for critical info about the company you mention you'll find a lot of devastating info. They have unfortuantely achieved thru legal threats that Toytown had to remove some threads that were very informative (I can't blame Toytown, it is not there job to fight this fight but rather for us financial advisors to take care of this eventually). I can send you this information if you send me your email address thru PM.

you should be aware that they are not financial advisors, neither legally speaking under German laws nor in fact by training. They are just hard-selling certain products which have just one goal - to get as much from your money into their own pockets as possible. If you have only signed last year you have a decent chance to retrieve your money, though, because as sure as eggs they have violated, too, in the process of "advising" you all kind of consumer protection laws here in Germany.

As JOhn Gunn pointed out, there are a number of dedicated and well-respected financial advisors active here on Toytown, both with unbiased and free advice in this chat forum as well as advertisers. Contact any of them, they all work German-wide and most of the advice can be done by email and phone anyway. And depending on how much you want to invest and what other issues there are to be discussed with you, most will certainly consider visiting you in Frankfurt, too.

Cheerio

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Posted

If you are looking to just find out about companies i use the website www.vwd.de this also a website where i can check up on my investments.

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Posted

BTW those no good corksoakers whose name can't be mentioned somehow got hold of my business cell phone number and tried to cold call me. I told him if he didn't delete my number from his database I was gonna stick his phone up his ass for him. I haven't heard from their lawyer yet.

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Posted

I am a registered insurance broker in Germany - Industrie und Handelskammer (IHK) registered number is D-MJNP-4VCMD-14. 27 years experience and previously employed with large respected companies and brokers before setting up my own company here in 1995.

I am based near Monchengladbach but I do travel to Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt from time to time. However for those in Frankfurt/Darmstadt etc., who want a local adviser I suggest and highly recommend the following:

Cathy Matz-Townsend and her Husband John Townsend - both very highly qualified and very ethical. See www.insure-invest.de or call: 06173-995-020.

In Munich definirely 'Starshollow' - although I do not entirely share his apparent views about Generali - but I suspect this is more in relation as to how these products are sold and by whom!

In Hamburg - then John Gunn (Gunn and Partner).

In Berlin perhaps DIVAL - although this is a German firm and not so hot on the english language except Ines Habenicht (great name for an investment adviser - but a very nice and competent lady!)

I personally will be away for 3 weeks from Friday 17 September until 11 October. Upon my return I then expect to be making arrangements to travel to Berlin, Munich and possible Hamburg over the next couple of months.

If you want to contact me please just e-mail and I will reply when I return. Please use my business e.mail spectrumint@aol.com or the Toytown connection. I don't read these Forums regularly so may miss any messages here.

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Posted

Have you heard of redacted?

It's also called redacted is a more recent name. It now owns a company called redacted and has a network of affiliates called redacted.

Just do a Google search. You can find what people's experiences are of a particular company by typing in words like "I", "me", "my", etc. along with variations of the company name. Keep an eye on the address line, in case the site is hosted by the company itself. You could also try to find out how it recruits its staff/what skills they need by typing in words like "job", "recruitment", etc.

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