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What's the point of suing someone with no money?  [:)]

Also - we are not offering professional advice, only offering our views, for better or worse.  You can't sue the bloke down the pub who gives you a duff tip on a horse, either, so don't go getting any ideas.

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[quote user="Llwyncelyn"]

Dear Quillan you say that Siddalls meet all the legal requirements.  With respect before you arrive at that decision you must have some legal experience and upon which you arrive at your decision making process.

Yes you are correct when you rightly say they have conformed with both UK and France based legislature.

However please do take advice from a neutral source in that (and based upon my research) there has never been a case where a French resident (of UK birth) has  mounted a cross-border action and brought into play the protection(s) that would ordinarily be available to him or her if they had been resident of the UK and such as the FSA.

Likewise a UK resident with a home in France and who has relied upon French based advice.

I have no doubt whatsoever as to the credibility of Siddalls none whatsoever but to take what they say carte blanche is not the way to go especially when you (as a forum administrator) have lots of people who are viewing daily your words.

Quillan you say that Siddalls 'may well worth be having a chat with'  That with the utmost of respect is advice of a sort.  I have no reason to suspect that was an innocent approach none whatseover but please be careful for this is an open forum and whilst other contributors may not be exposed as to their advice and guidance your position is something else!  In part you may well be seen as to be arguing the position of Living France.

Your later comments are spot on.

[/quote]

I have no legal experience whatsoever so your comments go right over my head. In fact it would be fair to say that I don't have a clue for the most part as to what you are saying.

I did a search on the internet and put the information I found here. That information has been backed up by another source here. I do not work for LF which is also true of all the other MODERATORS although Forum Admin does and he is the ADMINISTRATOR of this forum (all we moderators get is a free magazine).

Anything that is free in life is 'worth a punt' and based on what I have read and others have stated Siddells seem to be above board and operating within UK and French law. If that is not the case and you being a lawyer (is that a solicitor or barister?) should say so in plain English. Actually reading through that you best say it somewhere else in case LF gets sued.

In my free magazine that I get for being a MODERATOR I see there are loads of companies and from what I have found out and put here I had hoped that it would help the original poster to make up her mind as to different companies qualifications and ability to give her advice. Of course she is free to buy any French magazine and reply to any of the adverts found within them.

As has been stated if I need to say something as a moderator I put my moderators hat on otherwise I am no better or worse than the rest of the forum members and must abide by the same rules (as do the other moderators).

And on a personal note I wouldn't deal with them either having spoken to them over the phone five years ago but that's because they could not offer a product that suited my needs. That does not make them a bad company neither does it make them a good one either they just didn't suite me so I do consider myself neutral in that respect.

So to the original poster (Sweet 17) you now know what to look for and where to go to check people out and I would strongly suggest you check whoever you consider doing business with out before handing over any of your hard earned dosh.

 

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[quote user="Cassis"]What's the point of suing someone with no money?  [:)]

Also - we are not offering professional advice, only offering our views, for better or worse.  You can't sue the bloke down the pub who gives you a duff tip on a horse, either, so don't go getting any ideas.
[/quote]Phew!
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Dear all, I feel a breif response (excuse the pun please ex lawyers etc) would be suitable to the comments raised by Llwynclyn. Our French registered advisors deal specificaly with French residents only. If these same clients want advice relating to UK pension schemes then we tell them they need to seek UK advice as these are UK registered/regulated products and as such we have no mandate to advise on these products in France. Clearly this client is free to take advice from any UK IFA or indeed anyone else they may deem suitable. However Siddalls in the UK do have in house experts for pensions advice who work within the rules of the FSA and so if this client uses Siddalls for this purpose then we welcome their support and can provide this service.

It would be folly to think that Siddalls have never taken advice on how we should be organised as a company. We have taken advice on our structure and both the FSA and the French Authorities have looked at our company and are happy that we meet the best interests of our clients. If it were ever proven that we did not act in the best interests of our clients then we would "face the music" as a company and both the FSA and the French Authorities have the ability to cause a company to cease trading should such a serious allegation ever be made and upheld by them. We work fully within the system and there is no question that the clients needs are upmost. To my knowledge we are the only "IFA" company currently registered under both FS authorities in the UK and France, although would be happy to be proven wrong on this account should this not be the case! And if there is a company out there, I have a feeling I will be told very soon....

In the 12 years or so there has been a French registered office we have not had any problems in the way the company opperates "across boarders" and have clients running into the thousands. In 12 years the business has been operating in France, to my Knowledge we have received 1 formal complaint and (this was settled amicably)  have never been subject to any legal action whatsoever. We are extremely proud of the service we offer and our status as an Independent Intermediary.

A strucutre is already in place within our company that provides the cut between UK and French advice and perhaps my previous email was not clear in this regard. We, as experts in our field are fully aware of what advice must be given and by whom, and I reiterate that our "books" have been scrutinised by those that matter, being the finanical authorities that regulate the advice we give. They have no problems, the huge majority of our clients have had no problems and we maintain a clean deck insofar as keeping up with changes in the law and having an open door to regulators scrutiny.

I urge anyone wanting advice not to sit back and do nothing through fear of what they may have read on this link as the head in the sand approach could lead to disaster. Seek expert advice from someone if you need it.

If it ever came to pass that a regulator looked over its glasses and started wagging a finger at Siddalls, then rest assured we would listen, work with them and resolve any possible conflict of rules or interests. This has never happened as we try to keep ahead of legislation changes at all times.

The simple matter of the fact is Siddalls as a company do their best and are as clean as a whistle. There is no problem with what we do and I accept that our services may not meet all client needs in all circumstances. It is free of charge to call us, or have an initial meeting, so why not just decide for yourself, you really have nothing to loose. Again, to my Knowledge, none of our clients have ever been bitten by one of our advisors, although I once got bitten (by a clients dog) which wasn't very pleasant.

Anyone is welcome to investigate our company, any which way they decide is best, in fact I welcome it because there really in nothing to hide and this can only improve our situation. We accept that working in two countries has its challenges, who better would Know than us. Any improvements suggested to how we opperate would always be greatfully accepted, we have nothing to gain by not taking advice ourselves, should it be offered and correct!

We are an excellent company with an excellent history who has done its utmost to comply within the laws laid down in France and the UK. We continually talk with the regulators, French/UK accountants, solicitors and Notaires alike to keep abreast of change.

I really cannot see what more I can add?

Sorry, so much for the short reply.

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This debate is really about a straightforward concept that has been made complex by some of the previous member posts.

If you are buying financial advice or products, then the provider must be regulated under the laws of the country in which they are operating.  Siddalls clearly comply with this requirement, otherwise they would be in breach of the law (in both countries) and would not be permitted to trade.

Example:  I have a current account with UK Bank which is registered with the FSA.  I also have an account with UK Bank (France) which is registered with their French regulator.  This ensures that the advice and products of both banks meet the required standard as set out by their respective national financial regulations.

If I want to take out a French financial product such as a bank loan, I would not be able to ask UK Bank for information or advice because they are only permitted to offer UK financial products.

My UK bank account is a contract which has its basis in UK law.  My French bank account has its basis in French law.  If my UK bank breaches the terms of my contract, I can sue it under UK law.  If my French bank does the same, then my recourse falls within French law.

 

 

 

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Hello,

This thread has been interesting albeit a bit convoluted at times. Indeed, I suspect many may be seeing the wood but counting all the trees on the way. To seek and pay for broad financial advice and tax planning seems a perfectly valid commercial transaction for both parties.

Where the waters become muddy is the specific subject of investment advice. Such counsel can be given in good faith, comply with any regulatory regime and still not be terribly good. The reason is simple; if these people were so good, I repeat in the field of investment advice, they would be too busy making fortunes for themselves than earning from advising others. Perhaps before seeking any investment advice reading some background literature may be appropriate. If I was to recommend just one easily readable book ;try "Where are the Customers Yachts ' by Fred Schwed, Jr".

Regards

Owen
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Hi Owen, when a FA gives advice with regards to investment the advice will be tailored to the individuals specific needs. ie their tax situation, attitude to risk, their age, whether they require income/capital growth or both etc.

Apart from hightlight what HAS been happening within the clients chosen investment sector or fund, they cannot gaze into a crystal ball and predict how their investments will perform. 

If only it was that easy.  [:(] 

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Honestly Owen -I despair. My sister is a well qualified IFA, and has studied the subject, these are not 'Mickey Mouse' exams.

( From the web site of the company of which she is a partner: She holds the much sought after G60 (Pensions) , K10 (Retirement Options) and K20 (Pension Investment Options) elements of the Advanced Financial Planning Certificate. This makes her one of the most experienced women in the pension business.)

As well as that she has 20 years industry experience. In order to profit  from an investment to the extent you seem to be hinting at, you first have to have a sum to invest, she wasn't born with a silver spoon so where is the fund supposed to come from to start with?  She earns a comfortable living - and why shouldn't she?

If you want good financial advice you should choose someone who is qualified in the field you are interested in, with the integrity to be honest when something is not their speciality.

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All this crystal ball gazing [:)] .

I don't suppose anyone has this weeks winning Euro lottery numbers by chance ?

I personally think that any form of investment incures a certain amount of risk it's just that the best you can do is to limit those risks as much as you can. If you realy are worried about the risk then perhaps you could stick with the old building society accounts back in the UK but thats my personal opinion.

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Exactly.  Depends if you're a risk taker and how much you can afford to lose on a high-risk investment.  An IFA will advise on the type of investment or investment portfolio that suits you.  What they can't do is promise how higher risk investments will perform. 

An example of playing safe is going for interest bearing accounts at something like 2.75% and watch your money dwindle in real value.  Whereas if you like to manage your own investments and don't mind taking a "medium" risk, then nipping in and out of the Fidelity European Fund or a CAC40 fund a couple of times this year would have yielded well over 20% (before tax).

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On a general thing (and nothing to do with any companies mentioned in this thread), if work I did turned out "as well" as many supposedly safe investments I'd be in big trouble. I need to take advice but whenever I start to thinking about it I remember "endowment mortgages", retired people who have lost their pensions, my own pension performance, etc. - and then get scared. I tend to have the feeling that many of these investments seem "a good idea" but so often they seem to go "belly-up".

And then, if people are "bailed-out" who pays for "bailing them out". For example, all those people claiming compensation because of the failure of their endowment mortgages are getting money from who - in practice everybody else (as banks just put up charges to meet their costs and generate their required profit levels). Then there are those poor people who are not rescued from "safe" schemes (e.g. pension fund failures of lack of performance). Thing is they really are poor (now) and despite many having taken advice, invested in "safe" things, they now cannot afford the lifestyle they had paid for.

Ian

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I have read this thread with interest and would make the following observations. Perhaps at first, it is important to provide a sort of personal snapshot, in order that my own perspective can be viewed from a position of a little experience.

I elected, early onto study professional exams and part from excursions into various business adventures -which still continue! - I currently practice as a public practice accountant and business strategic consultant, specialising in finance, which includes considerable experience of Venture Capital. In the 70s, I worked internationally, as an independant finance broker  on sovereign risk and project areas, prior to which I worked in the City as firstly a dealer and later, on Corporate Finance and Investment.

Until late 2000, I was an external moderator and examiner at MBA level in Financial Strategy, as a Business School. In recent years not only have I been FD of an IFA operation, I have also provided consulting services to financial advisers as the business evolved from the first legislation (1986) to date. Much of this consulting work was on compliance issues as regulatory law evolved.

With investments, a person has basically two choices: one is to take the time to study and consider capital markets and learn: considerably! Choice two, is to leave it to professional advisers.

If you are really wealthy, then you hand over your affairs to a discrete investment bank, who handle your money for you.

Unfortunately, most people aren't very wealthy (in relative terms of reference): additionally, they do not wish to spend the time boning up on markets and mechanisms: they have other things to do.

So, you have your pile, what do you do? March into your bank and hand over the cash? Not wise.

Stick it all in the stock market through a broker? Not wise either. Bung it in a mutual like a Building Society, if you can find one these days, at effective negative interest (i.e. rate less inflation means you are losing money).

Financial Advisers are a relatively new animal: they have evolved from brokers selling a wide range of product from Insurance (i.e. Car, Home, Boats etc) through Assurance (life, pensions, annuity etc.) and, of course, the proverbial Man from the Pru.

A good Financial Adviser is able to provide a mixture of professional experties, which should include taxation, residence, domicile and etc. Quite obviously, a bloke in an office in Scunthorpe is unlikely to be able to advise on french or spanish tax law and etc.

Why use an IFA? (Hint: note the term "Independant"), well mainly because unlike a tied agent, the IFA should be able to provide a wide range of options from many different providers.

With all respect to any IFA's professionalism and expertise, however, it behoves anyone endeavouring to secure their financial future, to do some grunt work and study the markets.

Buying an ISA for example, can be a simple decision: mixing up the potential benefits and risks can help protect your investment and add significant capital, however, as many ISAs allow you to Mix and Match funds, thus you can elect to place part of the capital in a potential recovery position (e.g. Japan when it was down, but still achieving balance of trade surplus: a no brainer for capital increase.).

As to the criticism of IFAs like "Why aren't you a zillionaire?", well most zillionaires are not very nice people. I have received the same cynical criticism here and there from potential consulting clients, the favoured smart comment being, "Huh! A consultant is a bloke who borrows your watch to tell you the time!" I tend to point out thereafter that I am not the one with the problem! Which I created!

As with most professionals, there are good IFA, bad IFAs and excellent IFAs.

You pays your money (literally in this case!) and you takes your choice.

Investment law, tax law and pensions law are extremely complicated subjects, these days: when it comes to cross-border investments it just becomes more complex.

No one with any brain would grant an architect carte blanche to design and build them a house without some minimal input from the client. You might, but then whilst your new house might win awards for innovation, it might as easily win the Turner prize and look like something Salvador Dali designed on an off day with an immense hangover!

After all the bruahaha of mis-selling, poor advice, lost pensions, etc all financial advisers are now regulated and invariably indemnified like all practicing professionals.

A financial adviser, however, is only as good as the client's instruction and game plan. IFAs are not magicians: they can only advise on what is, according to what they are told and what the market currently offers. And like all of use, their advice is subject to a highly fickle and currently volatile capital market, globally.

So, do the research a bit firstly, since after all, it's your financial future or disaster, no one elses.

Sorry to go on, but I sincerely hope this assists.

 

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a hi everyone who has kindly shown an interest and given advice

sorry about the late response.  i have had mega problems with my broadband access and have had my hard disk completely wiped and things reinstalled. etc.  not that happy now with the print on this site but, still, i can read the replies.

as posted earlier, i see no problems with contacting siddalls for my free initial consultation and i will then check out their response using other sites and/or persons

also, as promised, i intend to post a record of my experience so that everyone can have the "benefit" (ha, ha) of my conclusion!

thanks again, one and all.  love you all for caring!

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special thanks to gluestick for a most comprehensive response.  now feel, if not more confident, then certainly more well-informed as to what i wish to do.

i take on board everything that has been said.  will proceed with caution but accept that at some point, i will be the one making the decisions.  that's ok.  there are no guarantees in life but at least there's no need to blunder into things without taking some trouble to find out exactly what you're blundering into!

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[quote user="Quillan"]

I personally think that any form of investment incures a certain amount of risk it's just that the best you can do is to limit those risks as much as you can. If you realy are worried about the risk then perhaps you could stick with the old building society accounts back in the UK but thats my personal opinion.

[/quote]

Wrong, should these institutions go belly up, they are only liable to return a percentage or a disclosed amount of your cash.  Best bet is to spread your cash and do your homework on what the implications would be should the inevitable happen.

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[quote user="Just Katie "][quote user="Quillan"]

I personally think that any form of investment incures a certain amount of risk it's just that the best you can do is to limit those risks as much as you can. If you realy are worried about the risk then perhaps you could stick with the old building society accounts back in the UK but thats my personal opinion.

[/quote]

Wrong, should these institutions go belly up, they are only liable to return a percentage or a disclosed amount of your cash.  Best bet is to spread your cash and do your homework on what the implications would be should the inevitable happen.

[/quote]

I really can't see Abbey or Nationwide for instance going belly up. However loads of people lost a shed load of money with Jupiter and Fidelity (I used these two in the past that’s how I know) when both their Technology and Communications funds crashed back in the late 90's. Of course they were high risk funds and initially they doubled your money every year. I was lucky because I keep an eye on mine and pulled out just in time and got my money back but I know many who lost almost all their money. It’s neither Jupiter’s or Fidelity’s fault this happened and I would use them again. An IFA can only give advice based on past experience and the information they have available. It's a form of gambling really, you can get the best, genuine and most well meaning tip in the world but once the horse has left the starting block anything can happen.

I have a new IFA now and he seems very switched on (plus he spends half he year almost next door from me here in France so I know where to find him, well half the time anyway [:D] ). I had a pension mortgage back in the UK (via the building society I got my mortgage from) which didn't perform so I have given it to him to deal with. We have discussed where the money should be 'spread' and I have a few high risk investments (commercial property) to try and claw back the zero growth I received in the last few years. Judging from the previous companies results I am glad I don't have this form of mortgage (well I don't have any mortgage now in truth) because I feel that it would be highly unlikely that it would be able to pay off the mortgage and would have left me with a large shortfall. But that’s not the fault of the person who sold it to me because based on previous figures I should have done very nicely out of it but the world changes and as they say at the bottom of all the adverts your money can go down as well as up.

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I became a sort of adoptive engineer, many years ago, mainly due to my love of motor cars, oily bits and above all else, motor racing (inherited from my late Dad: Castrol R and 104 octane in the veins instead of blood![:D]).

As I became more and more involved, I used my physics, maths and chemistry to try and educate myself and understand much more of the technology. Still liked loud exhaust noises, though![I]

 

 

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[quote user="Just Katie "][quote user="Quillan"]

I personally think that any form of investment incures a certain amount of risk it's just that the best you can do is to limit those risks as much as you can. If you realy are worried about the risk then perhaps you could stick with the old building society accounts back in the UK but thats my personal opinion.

[/quote]

Wrong, should these institutions go belly up, they are only liable to return a percentage or a disclosed amount of your cash.  Best bet is to spread your cash and do your homework on what the implications would be should the inevitable happen.

[/quote]

Not quite Katie. Building Societies have always enjoyed a special status as effectively Trustee Bodies, unlike banks, per se, which are chartered by the Bank of England.  Indeed, it was this special status which caused the banks to cry "Foul!" when they became envious of the BS's tax status.

One of the reasons for this, is that Building Societies break the first golden rule of banking: they borrow short to lend long: i.e. they take in deposits which are "At call" and re-lend for many years.

Deposits with Building Societies are accepted as Trustee Status investments, by for example, the Bank of England (for bank's reserve assets), start-up insurance companies (after the various crashes of the early 70s when insurers played naughty games with insured's premiums - remember Dr Emile Savundra?[6]), and Trustees, generally.

Building Society deposits are pedestrian, low interest and considered to be amongst the lowest risk: gilts (Government long-dated securities) are also effectively zero risk, but carry capital risk in the secondary market.

Thus Building Society deposits tend to be used as the benchmark of safe but very slow.

In any case, both the Bank of England (who have a special responsibility here, in any case) and the Building Societies Association would work very hard to protect member's assets in the event of a liquidity crisis, as the knock on affects would trip a UK wide financial crisis.

 

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Oh all right, Banks. 

However, as a young cashier in Abbey National (whilst still a mutual) I was questioned about this and looked into it for a client and, at that time the limited liability was £20k.  Perhaps things have changed since then with regards to mutuals.

My point is that with the smaller institutions (banks or building societies) I would only be prepared to invest what they would be liable for should the worse happen.

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I believe that any limited liability, is a typical first defence: thereafter, the overall guarantor circumstance comes into play.

I do agree with what you say, as a wise investment strategy, though, Katie. One always but always spreads the risk around! Even major global banks have their "Limit of Exposure" in the money markets to each other.

The core reason for spreading the risk with BSs is since in the case of default it could be many, many months before you could access your funds: might even be a year or two.

A core precept of investment strategy is to never put all your eggs in one basket!

In fact, the UK is well overdue for something following the US model: the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp) which is a federal body charges all banks an annual premium which guarantees depositors up to (I think it's still this) $100,000 per bank.

 

 

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