The SCMP article also claimed that a number of deVere staff who were selling products from the company’s Hong Kong office were not licensed by the Confederation of Insurance Brokers (CIB) when they should have been.
The paper claimed its investigation revealed complaints which have been made to the CIB in relation to the sale of investment-linked insurance schemes, two of which were provided by insurer Generali. Specifically, the SCMP claimed one of deVere’s advisers had deliberately “churned” the product in order to generate a commission payment.
In addition to accusations of product churning, the SCMP also claimed a number of key people within deVere’s Hong Kong operation are not licensed, including one of the advisers responsible for a complaint to the CIB.
The list of those which the SCMP allege do not hold a licence include deVere’s area manager and head of Hong Kong operations Edward Rice. The paper claimed earlier this year Rice asked the CIB to approve him as deVere’s Hong Kong chief executive but that this was not approved.
When contacted by International Adviser deVere refuted almost all claims made by the SCMP, describing the article as “somewhat sensationalist”.
A company spokesperson confirmed there had been some complaints but said the “number of identifiable, credible client complaints is extremely low, when taking into account the large number – 3,650 – of Hong Kong-based deVere clients”.
The spokesperson added that all complaints are “taken extremely seriously and are always appropriately and internally and/or externally resolved with and for the clients as quickly and fairly as possible”.
The spokesperson also noted that the SCMP had stated in its article that “none of the above clients were responsible for providing the information that has been given…to the Post” and added that “indeed, we are aware that the referenced clients both contacted the newspaper more than a week ago forbidding them to use details of their dealings with the company”.
Furthermore, the spokesperson asserted that “there is strong reason to believe that the newspaper’s report has been based upon unreliable sources who deliberately provided misinformation” and that deVere “has now been forced to start legal proceedings action against these individuals”.
In reference to the individuals named by the SCMP as not holding a CIB licence, the spokesperson said “they are not consultants, they are not client-facing, and therefore not required to be CIB licensed”.
Finally, the claim about Hong Kong’s area manager Rice having his CIB licence rejected was also strongly refuted with the spokesperson stating: “The article’s assertion that the CIB ‘did not approve’ Rice’s CEO application, again, is wholly untrue. The application was withdrawn unilaterally and voluntarily by the applicant before the CIB review and approval process had been finalised. Therefore it is wholly wrong to say, suggest or imply, and I reject the claim, that the application was not approved by the regulator.”