Today marks the second anniversary of Bond Review’s first ever article, which happened to be a review of the now sadly notorious London Capital & Finance.
So far Bond Review’s two years have seen:
- 90 reviews of high-risk unregulated investments promoted to the public
- 190 further articles bringing you news on the progress of these investments (or lack of it)
- 8 attempts at legal intimidation
- Plus a further 2 attempts to remove Bond Review from Google search results by making defamation claims to Google (without making any attempt to contact us directly)
- 0 court proceedings started
- 1 fake DMCA takedown
- 2 offers to buy the domain (and all its content) for an aggregate of £10,000 (to host a site reviewing James Bond films? sure guys)
On the industry side, 2019 saw a spate of collapses in the unregulated investment sector, starting with the high-profile failure of London Capital & Finance.
In 2020 we’ll see what effect, if any, the FCA’s recent ban on minibonds marketing to the general public will have.
The FCA has already confirmed that it expects some existing minibond schemes to collapse as a result of the ban (exactly who is unknown and unknowable). The outlook for minibond schemes in 2020 reminds me of the tagline for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: “Who will survive and what will be left of them?”
Arguably more important than the effect on existing schemes is whether the ban actually has any effect on the amount of unsophisticated investors’ money going into unsuitable ultra-high-risk investments.
As regular readers will know I am deeply dubious about this. Even before the FCA ban, many companies were paying and will continue to pay lip-service to the idea that all their investors are high-net-worth or sophisticated. And minibonds are only one particular structure. The ban will not affect other types of unregulated schemes, including the ever-popular “invest in our collective property scheme with a fixed yield of 8% per year” which the FCA continues to largely ignore.
The need for consumers to be able easily access the facts about the risks of investing in unregulated investment schemes – as easily as these investments can be promoted to them via Google searches for “best interest rates” is as strong as ever.
Whatever the unregulated investment market dreams up over the next year, if it’s unregulated or quasi-unregulated (e.g. IFISAs investing in a single unregulated company), and promoted to the public, we’ll be there.
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What you may have missed in November and December
(A selection of the more in-depth news articles since the last roundup)