Bad advice ends in loss

Financial experts always encourage consumers to save rather than to spend, especially if they are spending money they do not have.

Financial experts always encourage consumers to save rather than to spend, especially if they are spending money they do not have.

But some financial advisers do not steer clients to where their money would grow the most.

Some financial advisers even put their own interests before a client's and direct consumers to schemes where they earn huge commissions at the expense of the investor.

It is very disheartening to discover months or years later that a financial adviser has misled or ill-advised you on an investment.

I have been a victim of such circumstances. Last year a financial adviser at my bank gave me a courtesy call to advise me on the best investment available at the bank.

Relying on her expertise I withdrew my money and invested it where she advised me to.

It offered higher interest, she said. I cherished her.

I thought I was blessed and told friends about it. Some decided to invest too.

A month ago I went to the bank to activate a stop order so I could start saving for a rainy day and discovered that there was a much better investment account.

This account had existed for years but my financial adviser sold me a scheme that paid less than 10percent interest.

The reason? She got a bigger commission!

Damn, I would have been thousands of rands richer by now had the so-called financial adviser been Shadrack Davids or Edgar Shabalala, who introduced me to the Money 24 account.

Guys, I'm going to tell your boss you are doing a marvellous job.

This brings me to the terrible experience of Ruffat Mokonyane of Limpopo.

He has lost hundreds of thousands of rands in an investment he was told would earn him millions more than his bank was giving him.

When his investment matured he battled to get his money and when he eventually did, after Consumer Line intervened, there was less than R111800 compared with the maturity statement he received in May.

Mokonyane had saved for years at Standard Bank until he was enticed into investing in some products outside the bank's terrain.

He said that the bank's financial adviser advised him to invest his R3million with Liberty Life because he would earn better returns, but "Liberty Life has made more money from my investment than I did".

For the past five years the company has charged him R1milllion in contribution and guarantee charges he had not been told about when he invested his money, he said.

"Worse still, R53252 was withdrawn from my investment without my knowledge or permission," Mokonyane said.

He said he had invested his R3million in three investment policies of R1million each in 2002 for five years and expected that his money would double.

On maturity in December last year he cashed in one of the investments and asked Liberty Life to keep the rest while "I looked around for a lucrative product, which I found two months ago."

Mokonyane then asked Liberty Life to release his millions, but they ignored him, he said.

"That was when I discovered that R53 225,94 had been withdrawn without my consent," he said.

No one has explained who, when and how his money was withdrawn, Mokonyane said.

"I asked for statements for my two policies but was only given a statement for one of them.

Melanie van Eeden of Liberty Life said she could not "get the statement and has passed the buck to Benny, whose phone is engaged all the time or is redirected to a fax machine", Mokonyane said.

Erica Ntlhane of Liberty Life confirmed that Mokonyane had surrendered the policies.

His R1,6 million was paid into his bank account on Thursday, two days after Consumer Line took up the matter.

Ntlhane said they would pay the remaining million rand as soon as Mokonyane completed the surrender documents.

"The R53 225,94 that showed as a withdrawal on the policy is a three percent financial adviser commission fee (including VAT), which is payable by Liberty Life to Mokonyane's financial adviser.

"We would like to emphasise that the amount was not deducted from the client's investment, but was paid by Liberty Life," Ntlhane said.

"Also note that we have communicated with Mokonyane to clear up the misunderstanding and resolve the matter.

"He has also completed surrender documents for this policy and this surrender will be processed as soon as all required documents are received."

But Mokonyane said he had submitted the surrender forms and there was a further R111000 missing on the payout.

Mokonyane said he would not advise anyone to invest in Liberty Life and he was taking his money to a bank where financial advisers would not mislead him.