We’re under attack!

By Sam Kelly

DipPFS, EFA, BA (Hons)

Managing Partner & Financial Planner

s.kelly@chorusfinancial.es +34 664 398 702

Over the Easter break I went from feeling pretty proud of myself to feeling pretty desperate. Whilst I was relaxing at home on Sunday evening, I received a message from my colleague, Tracy Storer, with a link to a facebook page. Someone had been asking for a recommendation for a financial adviser on a popular Expat facebook group, and from dozens of responses nearly all of them were recommending Chorus Financial!

It’s an incredibly proud feeling when you have worked hard for years for something and you see just how many lives you’ve had a positive effect on, and I have to say that Tracy and I were both beaming with pride that evening to see all those lovely comments. It turned out, however, that perhaps other firms in our region weren’t so pleased to see our clients giving such positive reviews of their experiences…

I woke up on Monday morning to hundreds of notifications informing me of negative recommendations on our page. All the comments were from accounts based in South Asia, mainly Bangladesh – you can see a handful of them in the image at the bottom of this article. After a little research it seems that this was a paid spam attack, a tactic generally used by a firm’s rivals in an attempt to mislead potential clients.

So, in a very short space of time our 100% 5 Star rating had fallen to just 1/5 stars. We all understand rivalry, and generally this is healthy, and often to the ultimate benefit of a client with ever improving standards. Unfortunately, what isn’t healthy is when rival firms use fraudulent actions to deliberately mislead the general public.

This isn’t the first time Chorus have come under attack. In fact, this has been happening since I first started writing articles in Spain around 5 years ago. From the start I set out to warn our communities here about the dirty tricks financial advisers use to line their own pockets with your hard-earned savings and pensions, and I was immediately hit with some major resistance. I receive phone-calls and anonymous emails warning me to stop sharing this information with the public. Our website was attacked, and there were even attempts to blackmail some of the product providers we use.

What is important for people in our community to understand is exactly why Chorus are such a threat to established financial advisory firms here in Spain. Well, when Chorus entered the markets here in Spain we did so on the basis of transparency and conducting ourselves according to UK standards.

The UK FCA insist on full fee transparency, and do not allow firms to receive secret backhanders. This means that an adviser’s renumeration is transparent – if you come to Chorus for a recommendation we will tell you exactly what we will earn in simple monetary terms and also give you a breakdown in terms of exactly what your plan will cost you each year in pounds, shillings, and pence (well, just pounds really!). We were the first company to come out and make that promise here in Spain, and as far as we can tell, we are still the only company making these pledges in public.

What our articles have taught the general public here is how to identify the tricks used by advisers in Spain to hide fees (often a long tie-in via a high ‘bond-fee’), and indeed hide the eye-watering amounts they receive in hidden fees and commissions – we have seen this as high as 13% of the amount you invest paid to your adviser on the first day!

Our rivals can continue to attack us, but Chorus will continue to fight for our communities here, and hopefully one day we will see the back of these practises.

If you want transparent, honest financial advice from a fully regulated, and UK qualified financial adviser, please contact me direct on +34 664 398 702 or email s.kelly@chorusfinancial.es.

Contact Sam Kelly