As an expat living and working in Malaysia you are often contacted on the phone weekly by "private wealth managers" or " offshore financial advisers" offering products that are apparently beneficial to those living offshore.
After years of resisting the pushy telesales tactics from the majority of the companies in Malaysia I decided to accept a meeting with Greenwood Private Wealth Management. I had given myself 2 weeks notice on the meeting which allowed me to do some research and upon doing so I realized this company used to be a franchise of a UK based Wealth Management firm "The Alexander Beard Group". Further digging put my mind at ease as this company seems to have a very decent reputation for looking after its clients in the UK.
On the day of the first meeting a Mr Matthew Green turned up at my office address looking a little flustered and over dressed for what I was told was going to be a rather friendly introductory chat. The start of the meeting was a rather awkward 10 minutes of small talk and general build up while he looked for an opening to begin his pitch about the services he offers & the company he represents. As I have some financial understanding I found it odd he used phrases like "let me put some meat on the bones for you" when trying to explain what was simple financial regulation & products based in an offshore jurisdiction.
As the first meeting bumped down the patchy sales path he eventually produced a empty fact sheet and dove straight into asking me some rather personal information, some of which I offered up honestly & some of which I explained I would feel more comfortable discussing after seeing his qualifications & financial background.
Upon further questioning about his financial background the best he could come up with was an offshore qualification & number of years doing this job in Malaysia, there seemed to be no financial training or university degree to back up the advice he was offering and certainly no reason for me to pass him delicate financial information regarding my myself and my family.
As the meeting had come to an end I decided to ask what happened to Alexander Beard Group and why it had changed to the new company name and formation, again he seemed to laugh it off and offer up a very vague excuse about the franchise agreement which I accepted. We shook hands and he explained he would be in touch with a detailed overview of what I should be looking to do to achieve my goals based on the information I had given him.
After the meeting and after a few days had passed I gave it some thought and wondered how someone with no financial training at university level or extensive knowledge in the field would be able to come to a conclusion about what would be best for my financial future, but I was intrigued to see what he would propose.
I decided to speak to a few colleagues and friends about the meeting and they had told me to expect a long term savings plan from either a financial institution called Generali or Friends Provident based on either my kids educational needs or my own retirement goals. They had also told me to beware of "special offer bonus schemes" that would only be available for a certain period of time and likely to run out a few days after my next meeting with Matthew thus giving the adviser a powerful pushy sales tool.
Upon my second meeting with Mr Green, it became very evident what my friends and colleagues had said where in fact correct, he had produced a long term savings plan to achieve the goals I had mentioned from one of the companies mentioned above. Surprise Surprise there was also a special bonus scheme if I signed up ASAP and Matthew had even gone to the great length of having the paperwork at the ready and requested that I bring along my personal effects to start the ball rolling straight away.
When I explained that I did not believe this was indeed the correct way to go he became rather pushy and flustered. I gave him my concerns that upon a bit of research these products in this type of industry had a rather sketchy image and he continued to laugh it off and push me towards it.
After this, I called time on the meeting and Matthew left at my request.
Due to my circle of friends in Malaysia I was able to do some digging and found out that indeed Matthew had no actual financial qualification from a recognized university neither does he have any real financial training or background. In fact he worked for a radio station in the UK and sales for an alcohol company.
Further digging shows there is current litigation against Mr Green regarding his company affairs and previous/current staff.
I would suggest that people really do proceed with caution when working with people from the offshore financial services industry. While I have heard much worse stories than the one above, I have actually had Greenwood recommended to me by people and if this is what is considered acceptable in an industry that takes millions a year from people working offshore then I would say there is very little to be found in the way of good advice. I have heard far more horror stories than I have heard good recommendations.
At the end of it all, Mr Green had the cheek to ask me for contacts that may require his services.
Review about: Financial Advice.