Stockbroking firm Beaufort Securities has this morning been declared insolvent by City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority.
This means the Financial Conduct Authority – the UK’s financial watchdog – has investigated the firm and found it is not in a position to pay all of its debts.
Administrators from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) will now take over the running of the company and its sister Beaufort Asset Clearing Services, ‘in order to protect assets from dissipation and protect customers of both firms’.
Here Which? explains what you need to know if you’ve been affected.
How many customers are affected?
Beaufort Securities has more than 14,000 clients, who have invested as much as £700m through the stockbroker.
Administrators will begin contacting affected customers ‘in due course’. However, PWC has warned that clients could face a ‘significant delay’ in getting their money back.
Will investors lose their money?
Money you’ve invested with the firm should in theory be protected or ‘ring-fenced’ from the company’s activities. This means that when the firm goes bust, your money doesn’t disappear with it.
But this doesn’t always happen when a company becomes insolvent.
PWC has stated that it is in the process of determining how well client money has been separated from that of the firm. Once it has done this, it will protect and ‘in due course return client money and assets to rightful clients to the fullest extent possible’.
How long will it take to get my money back?
According to PWC, the process of paying back funds to investors will ‘be subject to an initial delay while the administrators carry out a number of critical tasks in order to be able to make a full assessment of the situation.’
It says that everything possible will be done ‘to expedite this process and minimise the hardship and inconvenience caused to clients.’
It committed to providing regular updates in the coming days on progress, but said it will be unable to address individual queries at this stage.
What happens if investors’ money wasn’t protected?
The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) protects up to £50,000 of investors’ money in cases where a financial services firm is unable to repay what it owes to its clients.
So far, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme has not issued a statement confirming if clients will be able make a claim against the firm, which has offices in London’s famous ‘Gherkin’ building at 30 St Mary Axe.
If you invested with Beaufort Securities on the recommendation of a financial adviser, you might also be able to claim back losses of up to £50,000 if it’s decided the advice was inappropriate.
Find out more about how the FSCS works for investments.
What investors in Beaufort Securities do next?
PWC has set up a helpline for clients to call on 0800 063 9283 (or +44 2072930227 from outside the UK).
You can also see the latest announcements on the PWC website.
According to reports, Beaufort last year wrote to investors encouraging them to lodge a claim against their financial advisers, who Beaufort said may not have sufficiently assessed and explained the risks involved with investing money with them.
In September of last year, the Financial Conduct Authority warned that a ‘clone firm’ was fraudulently using the name Beaufort Securities in an attempt to scam UK consumers.
Update on 5 March 2018: The US Department of Justice is currently investigating Beaufort Securities in relation to securities fraud and money laundering.