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

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - NEWS - By Gor­don Black­stock glback­stock@sundaypost.com

– 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

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