Middle East consumers demand greater transparency from offshore investment firms
AES International, an award-winning global investment firm, has revealed that the number of requests for its free ‘X-ray’ service, showing hidden commissions on financial products, has soared twelve-fold in 2016, from the same period last year. The ‘X-ray reports’ were initially offered through the company’s website in 2015 as a way for international investors to find out any hidden commissions that were paid to an adviser from the product provider or the investment provider. They also measure the true level of risk within a portfolio, check how funds have performed against their benchmark, assess if investments are properly diversified, see if a client was left exposed to tax and hidden charges, and uncover the lock-in periods which reduce flexibility and performance.
“We have been quite taken aback in the first quarter of 2016 by this massive surge in demand for a truthful, fully transparent assessment of individual investments,” said Sam Instone, CEO of AES International. “The unfortunate fact is that many financial companies operate in high pressure sales environments with tough targets, so they don’t always have their customers’ best interests at heart. This can lead to an unscrupulous and quite aggressive approach to selling – and I think the knock-on effect is what we are seeing now with this huge increase in demand for the X-ray service.”
The UAE has put many consumer protection laws in place over recent years, but one area that is still causing problems is investment schemes administered by insurance companies such as Friends Provident International, RL360, Hansard International, Old Mutual International, Zurich International, and Generali Worldwide. These are sold through financial advisory firms to people who put a lot of trust in what they are being told.
“We are passionate about setting the example of transparency and are making every effort to help people, who are often distressed, if they have historically made a bad decision,” added Instone.