Foreign Chiang Mai Financial Advisor Denies Allegations of Incompetence or Malfeasance after LM Fund Collapse

 | Fri 28 Mar 2014 11:34 ICT

Alan Hall and Richard Prouse

Richard Prouse, a British born Chiang Mai expat, and partner in PFM International, a financial advisory company run out of Chiang Mai, feels his name, and the reputation of PFM, has been unfairly dragged through the mud lately following numerous posts on Thai web forums lambasting the two entities, along with Alan Hall, the founder of PFM and former president of Chiang Mai Expats Club.

The criticism, much of which has been taken down from web forums, notably Thaivisa – stating defamation as the reason – came after some of PFM’s clients lost money with the company. One of PFM’s investment plans included an Australian fund called LM Investment management. The fund collapsed in March 2013. As PFM had invested clients’ money in this fund, some people lost large amounts of their life’s savings. The criticism, much of which has been written on web forums, mostly consists of people accusing PFM of mismanaging, or misappropiating their money as PFM had allegedly put all their investment into this one fund alone (investments are usually diversified). At the time of writing not one of these people has come forward to CityNews, although we have been sent various emails about the subject and accusations have been made but nothing which could be deemed illegal practice. People have also blamed PFM for working without SEC registration, which may have secured them against loss. Alan Hall, people have stated on web forums, has left Thailand and not responded to their emails, which has led them to accuse him of ‘doing a runner’.

As a result of this Richard Prouse spoke to CityNews in an effort to clear his name and also to clear up some issues concerning PFM and his partner Alan Hall.

Firstly he said, PFM is up and running, although Alan Hall is in the UK suffering from an illness. Prouse said this was a private matter and would not state what this illness was. He did however say, “To think Alan has run away is absolute nonsense. He’s contactable by phone, or email. I’m in contact with him every day.” Hall, said Prouse, will be back in Chiang Mai at some point to take charge of his business again.

“We have over 500 clients,” said Prouse, adding that only about 9% of those clients had money in the doomed LM fund. His contention is that only a small number of clients lost money with PFM because of the LM fund collapse, and that indeed most PFM customers are happy with their investments and have been seeing good returns. The most unfortunate of PFM’s clients were those whose entire investment was in the one fund, which was, according to Prouse, about 10% of the aforementioned 9%.

“I can count those people on one hand,” says Prouse of the people he says have been besmirching his character online – which goes much further than financial mismanagement and includes violence and domestic abuse. “Two or three people have a personal grudge, using all means they have to pillory him [Alan] and myself.”

He believes a small amount of expats are out to destroy his reputation and Hall’s too. He admitted that it is true that some people’s money, in its entirety, was invested in that one doomed fund. I questioned Prouse about this as I understood that usually not more than 10% of someone’s investment goes into one fund in case that fund were to collapse. The money is usually spread out to protect people against total loss.

He responded by saying that if the amount was under 50,000 pounds sterling then “there’s not much we can do with it” and so small investments under this amount were not diversified into different products, and in fact were put into this one fund. It is just unfortunate, said Prouse, that this fund collapsed and small investors lost their lot. He contends that other investors lost money with LM but are still with PFM and are still happy with their portfolio. Hall himself, said Prouse, lost over 150,000 pounds in this fund. “He was the biggest loser,” exclaimed Prouse, adding “we are still friends with people who lost money in that fund.” A fund, he says, that had been brining in money for people for over a decade.

As for the SEC registration, Prouse contends that SEC wasn’t enforced in Thailand until 6-12 months ago, and even now he says “only three companies in Thailand that I am aware of are registered with SEC.”

He emphatically denies much of the online accusations about PFM. “Someone wrote that PFM had lost 30-50% of its clients’ money, which is ludicrous!” He adds, “PFM, a scam!? There is no PFM scam and there never was. There was an investment, and it went wrong.”

Prouse wanted to talk about a recent editorial I wrote in which I mentioned that Thailand expats clubs have been used by certain predators to take advantage of people in need of advice and help. Prouse agreed that this does indeed happen, but as for Hall, who started the Chiang Mai Expats Club, and himself, a board member, this was certainly far from the truth. He admitted that perhaps other clubs in the country are questionable, but Chiang Mai is not comparable, he says. PFM were sponsors of the club, he says, but it was not used as a marketing tool for their products. Hall has since resigned due to illness, and Prouse has also stepped down.

He says recent remarks have not just hurt the company, but have also damaged his own name. He has been accused of domestic violence, though – he shows me scars on his arm – he says the charges were against his wife for attacking him, not the other way around as has been stated on web forums. “It was always me that was the victim,” he states. He also states that his ex-wife had large gambling debts, and that is why someone threw acid into her face. He was also accused of this, he says. He says he has not slept for weeks due to this kind of harassment leveled at him, all of which, he adds, is spurious and unfounded. There have never been any charges against Prouse for violence, he finally states.

It’s business as unusual, Prouse explains, at PFM. “I’ve been sending out updates. All of our clients have been able to contact us. There’s never been any problem to contact PFM.” He asks people to contact the company if they have enquiries. As for Hall, “he will be back when the doctor says he can come back.”

You can contact Richard at [email protected]