The DeVere Group is frequently in the news for mis-selling ripoff insurance products and dodgy offshore funds. Yet, according to a job ad on Craigslist, the DeVere Group is expanding its offices in Tokyo, due to “high demand” for its services:
According to another job ad on GaijinPot, DeVere’s Japan office is also spearheading a Korea office in Seoul. DeVere is seeking people with sales skills. Remuneration is commission-based:
DeVere is a member of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan. DeVere’s Japan Area Manager, Tony Evans, writes a blog (Tony-Evans.com) promoting the company’s services. Presumably, DeVere has had an office in Tokyo since at least 2007, since Craig Featherby, DeVere’s Africa Manager, claims that he was managing a “very successful team” in Tokyo at that time.
Given how openly DeVere has been operating in Japan, one would assume that it is properly licensed and complying with Japanese laws and regulations.
However, a representative from the Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) has confirmed by email that the DeVere Group is not licensed and may soon go on FSA’s Investor Alert List:
Another FSA representative confirmed that DeVere’s subsidiary, “DeVere Group Tokyo K.K.”, is also unlicensed:
Article 198 of the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act states that a person carrying on unregistered financial instruments business “shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not more than three years or by a fine of not more than three million yen, or both”.
Article 317 of the Insurance Business Act states that a person carrying on unregistered insurance brokerage business “shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not more than one year or a fine of not more than three million yen.”
In 2008, the Monetary Authority of Singapore fined DeVere’s subsidiary, IAIS, a total of S$56,250 for multiple regulatory violations, which included letting eight representatives conduct financial advisory services without a license.
In Oct 2013, the South China Morning Post revealed that DeVere had been “disciplined seven times by its regulator over the past eight years for breaches of industry regulations.” The Post also reported that five of DeVere’s staff, including the head of Hong Kong operations, were unlicensed at the time the story was published.
In April 2014, Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) placed DeVere on its Investor Alert List for carrying on unlicensed securities business.
A year earlier, in June 2013, DeVere’s CEO Nigel Green shot a video of DeVere’s Bangkok office and uploaded it to YouTube (see below). At least ten expatriates are visible in the background. Some are making phone calls. The manager of the Bangkok office, Toby Williams, claims that the office has 25 consultants. Since the company was unlicensed, all of the consultants must have been unlicensed as well, and CEO Nigel Green must have been fully aware:
In all of the above-mentioned countries, the penalty for selling insurance and investment products without a license consists of large fines and imprisonment.
In a March 2012 interview with International Adviser, Nigel Green claimed, “DeVere Group is licensed correctly in all the jurisdictions that it works in.”
The complaint website, PissedConsumer.com, contains 190 complaints against the DeVere Group. DeVere has submitted 171 responses. Most of the responses sound very similar. Here are a few examples:
“As the most regulated independent financial consultancy in the world, deVere Group strictly adhere to international regulatory laws.” [Response to Complaint #110]
“deVere Group strictly adhere to international laws to ensure that only the very best advice is delivered to clients.” [Response to Complaint #190]
“All deVere consultants are trained to the highest possible standards receiving a CISI (Chartered Institute of Securities & Investment) qualification. deVere strictly adhere to international law, ensuring that all consultants have the correct paper work for the jurisdiction they choose to live and work in.” [Response to Complaint #80]
The Most Unregulated Broker in the World?
When DeVere’s US subsidiary was granted a license by the SEC, DeVere boasted that it had become “the most regulated broker in the world”. International Adviser even wrote a story about it, titled “DeVere claims ‘most regulated broker’ title as SEC grants licence“.
Given that so many of DeVere’s salespeople are not properly licensed or regulated in the jurisdictions in which they work, the above claim is very misleading and will have the unfortunate effect of lulling some DeVere customers into a false sense of security. US regulators will not help or intervene if DeVere customers in random Asian or African countries discover that they were mis-sold.
DeVere may have obtained licenses in more countries than any other broker. However, this doesn’t mean that DeVere is “the most regulated broker in the world”. On the contrary, it is possible that, in its quest for rapid international expansion, DeVere has cut more corners, broken more laws, and churned through more unlicensed and unregulated salespeople than any other competitor.
If this is true—and many insiders believe it to be true—then DeVere could equally lay claim to the title of “most unregulated broker in the world”.
Decide for Yourself
According to an article in International Adviser, “[CEO Nigel Green] says he is aware that deVere is the subject of unflattering gossip in some advisory industry circles, which includes claims that the company lacks licences in certain markets, and that it does not operate to the same high standards that others do.”
Green categorically denied these allegations.
Maybe in Green’s mind he really thought he was telling the truth, but readers should decide for themselves. Below is a selection of articles published by various credible sources:
MAS Fines DeVere $56,250 (Monetary Authority of Singapore – May 2008)
DeVere Leaves Singapore after MAS fine (International Adviser – 8 May 2008)
Who Took My Pension? (BBC Panorama – 4 Oct 2010)
BBC investigates high pension charges (International Adviser – 5 Oct 2010)
Former deVere manager ordered to pay £2.9m damages over AES move (International Adviser – 12 May 2011)
‘Publish at your peril’ warns financial giant deVere Group (Daily Mail – 17 Sept 2011)
DeVere pays out to elderly couple after fund failures (Citywire – 19 Sept 2011)
DeVere says it has moved more than one-third of all QROPS (International Adviser – 23 Feb 2012)
Riding the expat exodus wave – a profile of deVere (International Adviser – 23 March 2012)
Rise and Fall of DeVere in Singapore (International Adviser – 10 July 2012)
DeVere v PissedConsumer.com spotlights ‘gripe site’ phenomenon (International Adviser – 11 Sept. 2012)
DeVere v PissedConsumer.com Part 2: Where the ‘gripe site’ phenomenon is heading (International Adviser – 12 Sept. 2012)
Video: Nigel Green tells his version of why deVere exited Singapore, Belgium, and Mexico (International Adviser – 9 Oct. 2012)
DeVere plans legal fightback against ‘gripe sites’ (FT Adviser – 20 Dec. 2012)
Offshore financial advisers ‘overwhelm’ LinkedIn expat group (International Adviser – 31 Jan 2013)
DeVere Loses License in Belgium, Rejig of Europe ops announced (International Adviser – 5 April 2013)
Don’t knock other financial advisers: DeVere’s Mike Coady (International Adviser – 5 April 2013)
Pensioners put £285,000 in woeful ‘low-risk’ funds (Daily Mail – 11 May 2013)
DeVere’s Green slams bloggers in YouTube video (International Adviser – 13 May 2013)
Up to $50m of deVere client money trapped in suspended UAM fund (International Adviser – 23 May 2013)
DeVere claims ‘most regulated broker’ title as SEC grants licence (International Adviser – 6 June 2013)
DeVere Faces Down Bad Practice Claims (South China Morning Post – 24 Oct. 2013)
CEO’s Stake Risked Conflict of Interest (South China Morning Post – 24 Oct. 2013)
DeVere slams ‘sensationalist’ SCMP article; starts legal action (International Adviser – Oct. 25, 2013)
Ex-clients Quizzed in Probe of DeVere (South China Morning Post – Dec. 31, 2013)
DeVere pays £70k to Strategic Growth Fund investor (March 10, 2014, – International Adviser)
‘Financial advice made my pension dive from £89k to £20k’: Victory for Expat Retiree as This Is Money Gets His Pot Restored (This Is Money – Feb 28, 2014)
Investment giant deVere Group buys angry reader’s silence (Daily Mail – 26 April 2014)
DeVere chief defends his approach to hiring advisers (FT Adviser – 28 May 2014)
DeVere pays £190k for mis-selling (International Adviser – Feb. 5, 2015)
DeVere’s SA clients exposed to Belvedere for at least R50m (BizNews.com – 25 March 2015)
Funds marketed in Hong Kong linked to Belvedere fraud probe (SCMP – April 7, 2015)
Forums and Complaint Websites
[Note: Most of what is written in forums and complaint websites is anonymous, so it is not always possible to verify whether the info is true. Green has claimed that most of it is “complete rubbish,” but he acknowledges that some of it may be true.]
de Vere & Partners Financial Planners: Warning (Pissed Consumer – 15 April 2010)
DeVere scam, fraud and sexual harassment (Complaints Board – 11 May 2011)
De Vere Financial Advice Scam (Complaints.com – 16 June 2011)
DeVere & Partners: Formally Britex International (Pissed Consumer – 20 Jan 2012)
DeVere Director on the Run from HK Tax Authorities (Pissed Consumer – 2 Feb. 2012)
DeVere Group Scam: I Went on the Rip Off Course (Pissed Consumer – 26 July 2012)
Anyone have experience with the deVere Group? (Piston Heads – 5 Oct. 2012)
DeVere Group Harassment (Thai Visa – 27 Aug. 2013)
Expat Investment Advice – DeVere Group (MoneySavingExpert.com – 5 Nov 2014)
DeVere Group Kicked Out of Thailand (Thai Visa Forum – Feb. 2, 2015)