RFS has moved and yes, the new view is spectacular. Our crew is definitely enjoying the new space and while we still need some finishing touches, we are settling in nicely.
Moving is never easy but thanks to Courtneay’s organisational skills, it was as smooth as we could have hoped for. Left to the directors we would probably be sitting in the dark wondering where the furniture was!
There has been a little bit of confusion on visitor parking as there is metred parking in front of the building, but there are six, clearly marked, free visitor parks in the building driveway, two of which are designated RFS visitor parks specifically for our clients. The other four are also available if vacant and 90% of the time they are.
A big thank you to Tim Bloomfield from Bloomin Constructions, who has worked tirelessly to get the new fit out finished and finalise the make good on our old premises.
Now to scams.
Every now and then, we see thieves masquerading as advisers, get caught and hopefully brought to justice. The famous case in the US during the GFC was Bernie Madoff, (Investopedia- Bernard Madoff)) who recently died in prison and closer to home we have had the case of Melissa Caddick in Sydney (Accountants Daily, how-sydney-s-phony-adviser-pulled-off-her-scam ) in February. Bernie stole billions and Caddick stole millions (up to $30 million). The number is not the issue, it is the damage these charlatans have done to the individuals that trusted them that cannot be quantified.
These are the ones we see in the news, but there are all sorts of sophisticated scams going on continually and unfortunately, we only get to see the aftermath.
I know it sounds self-serving, and obviously as professional advisers, ‘we have a horse in this race’, but it is becomingly increasingly risky for ‘do it yourself’ investors as they are being specifically targeted using online information.
I recently took part in a Cybersecurity forum with a range of financial services businesses. When you have a presenter in the room who has real information on how much money has been swindled from unsuspecting investors (and that is just what has been admitted to), and is part of a task force that is tracking Ukrainian fraudsters that focus only on Australian investors with Self Managed Super Funds, you realise the risk is exponentially increasing.
These aren’t Nigerian scams or supposed ‘voice recordings from the ATO’ demanding “you pay them now or the police will come around and kill you”. (Not kidding, my sister got one of these calls where they must have used the wrong script – pretty sure our police aren’t doing that?).
These are co-ordinated groups of very clever cyber geeks whose working day is trying to find ways to access your data and then providing an attractive investment solution that sounds quite credible. The investment is clothed in a recognisable international brand and currently they are focusing on options that have a reasonable rate, well above but not ridiculously above, the very low cash rates we have.
This article talks to the recent offers. https://www.livewiremarkets.com/wires/an-extraordinary-scam-that-is-netting-millions
The brands they are using in this scam are Citi Bank, Nomura and IFM Investors.
PIMCo has also recently done a press release warning investors that their brand is being fraudulently used: https://www.pimco.com.au/en-au/fraud-warning
Another useful link is ‘Scamwatch’, a government site that talks to recent scams and what crooks are focusing on. https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/
As I mention above, we usually see the aftermath and one of the accounting principals of a practice we work with shared a story of a widow, who in December last year, had her entire savings of over $1.4 million removed from her bank account and now has nothing. She can’t even afford lawyers to chase the money. She didn’t come to see us as she didn’t want to pay for advice.
So how can you be sure we are not about to run off with your money?
That probably got your attention?
We absolutely understand that you are putting your trust in us and that is why we want you to be confident that you and your savings are safe.
Firstly, we are licensed and authorised and you can find us on the ASIC website. (ASIC Professional Registers. ) . As an example if you typed in ‘Troy Theobald’ in the Keyword area for ‘Family or Organisation Name’ and in the ‘Select Register’ drop down menu choose ‘Australian Financial Services Authorised Representative’, Troy will come up and you can see he is authorised. You can do this for RFS Advice and if you typed in “Australian Advice Network” and in the drop down chose ‘Australian Financial Services Licensee’ you will find us.
This search on Melissa Caddick would have shown she was not an authorised adviser.
The advice profession is heavily regulated and because we are authorised, as consumers, you have protections immediately.
- We must have ‘Professional Indemnity Insurance’, we must be a paid up member of AFCA (https://www.afca.org.au ) which gives you free access to dispute resolution, and we must be supervised and monitored by our Licensee and have all the necessary professional standards in place.
That is a good start but there is a lot more:
- Our advisers don’t just meet the education standards – they are well and truly in front of them and as soon as the new requirements came out in 2019, our team jumped straight in and did those as well.
- All advice is reviewed internally and actual transactions are done by a separate team member, rather than your adviser, so another set of eyes reviews it before implementation.
- Any withdrawals can only be paid to your nominated account and we will physically talk to you before we action a withdrawal.
- All products used by RFS are registered with ASIC, have external independent research and are only approved for use once our investment committee has agreed they can be added. This is a very thorough process and surprisingly few options get through.
- We use professional managers and we want you to be able to see your money, that we advise on, 24/7.
- The platforms we utilise provide online access and are repriced daily and in the case of Praemium, every 20 minutes. The money is held in trust by their Trustee (which is separate to them) and that Trustee has another very onerous number of hoops to jump through before they achieve Trustee status. The platform simply does the transacting, administration and reporting.
- You never actually invest your money with us – your payments are to the platform and their Trustee and any investment or rollover goes directly to them.
- We don’t like illiquid assets as we have seen the complexity they have added to client’s lives in the past. Unlisted Property Trusts, Hedged Funds and even Mortgage Funds, all have characteristics that can make strategic reallocations or withdrawals problematic. That doesn’t mean they are bad and your personal properties are examples of illiquid assets that you are probably very happy with. It is when markets or interest rates get into trouble that these become a problem and we want to be able to react and reposition quickly if necessary.
- Lastly, you have seen and been to our offices and know the calibre of the individuals and teams that look after you. RFS staff turnover has been zero since 2016 (though we had two retirements since then) and while we have added staff and replaced our retirees, no-one has left the business. As a business manager that is a great indicator of positive culture and alignment.
Advice does cost money and the management of assets also has a cost. It is the value, benefits and security that it provides, that we would argue needs to be your benchmark. What is the net benefit?
Good advice can literally save you thousands and in the case of fraudulent operators, millions.
In the current environment of low cash rates, investors who have benefited from term deposits and cash for years are being forced to take more risk to generate income and the scammers know it.
Please feel free to share these tips with your friends and help them avoid the traps that are becoming more and more prevalent.
Enjoy this wonderful autumn weather
Your team at RFS Advice