Gran reveals how investment manager lost her life savings in risky gambles she knew nothing about He wasn’t just my financial adviser, I thought he was my friend ... until he lost my £ 200,000, closed his firm, left me penniless and didn’t say a word
– Isobel Bain
Agran feared she would have to sell her home after a financial adviser lost her £ 200,000 life- savings in high risk investments.
Isobel Bain, 73, says she was left unable to pay bills after financial adviser Andrew Wilson lost her nest egg.
Wilson, 54, earned thousands of pounds in commission from Isobel’s investments before losing the lot and leaving the former hairdresser on the edge of financial ruin.
By the time Isobel was aware of what had happened, Wilson had placed his financial firm, Clifton Financial Management, into voluntary liquidation.
It meant Wilson – whose business was based at his £1 million home near Stirling and an office in Glasgow – walked away from his disastrous investments.
Gran-of-two Isobel, who lives in Edinburgh, said: “I considered Mr Wilson a friend and even helped his wife, Anne, run a Christmas charity stall one year.
“I don’t have a private pension so my investment was always meant to be a steady income I could get into retirement. I didn’t
One day he disappeared and his firm was bust. It was the stuff of nightmares
know he had put it into such high-risk companies.
“I would never have knowingly agreed. I’d occasionally get paperwork to sign but relied on his professional advice.
“I used to get a monthly return then it started to be more sporadic. One day it just stopped, he disappeared and his firm was bust. It was the stuff of nightmares.”
She had paid off her home but the blow meant she couldn’t even afford household bills.
She said: “I only had my state pension of just over £ 400 a month to survive on – my council tax and energy bills were higher than that alone.”
She had asked former school friend and financial adviser Noel Valerio to invest £460,000 when she was left the money by an aunt in 1999.
He did so in a low- risk fund giving Isobel a steady income of up to £2,000 per month.
When Noel retired in 2008, Isobel’s investment was passed to Wilson, who took over the firm.
Mr Wilson moved Isobel’s money into another fund that netted him commission of £ 18,000 and then into riskier ventures, believed to have netted him further commission.
Those investments included an unregulated, offshore fund based in the Isle of Man called Premier New Earth Solutions.
That fund – which invested in British recycling facilities – was suspended in 2014 and collapsed in 2016. More than 3,000 investors like Isobel lost all the money they had put in.
If Mr Wilson’s company – which went into liquidation in 2016 – had remained open, Isobel could have raised a complaint with the Financial Services Ombudsman. That could have seen Wilson personally fined up to £150,000.
Isobel complained to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which originally said it could not investigate because Mr Wilson would not hand over his files. He later wrote a letter agreeing that Isobel did not get enough information about the investments, adding: “I would therefore suggest, with hindsight, that the client invested this money in good faith but without the necessary information to fully understand the potential risk to her money.”
The FSCS eventually agreed to award her £ 50,000. Isobel says
Wilson has never said sorry for pumping her money into high-risk investments.
“He’s walked away without any consequence. Others will pick up the bill.”
Her MP Ian Murray said: “It is simply ridiculous the FSCS would ditch an investigation into financial misconduct because the subject of that investigation refused to hand over files.” We contacted Mr Wilson at his home in the village of Balfron Station, near Stirling. He said: “The investment recommendations were made in agreement with Mrs Bain. Industry standard commission was taken. My recommendations were made in good faith.
“Mrs Bain was made fully aware of the fund risk level and signed the appropriate documentation. The fund was reviewed with Mrs Bain on an annual basis and she was happy with its performance.”
A spokeswoman for the Financial Conduct Authority said Mr Wilson was no longer active on their register of financial advisers.
A spokesman for the FSCS said: “If we do reject a claim, should a claimant be able to provide additional evidence, we may be able to consider this and pay compensation.”
Isobel Bain lost more than £200,000 due to high-risk investments
Our reporter approaches Andrew Wilson at his Balfron Station home