Before you invest any money with an investment firm, you should always check if the firm is regulated. Only regulated firms are authorised to provide investment services and firms can only provide investment services in the European Union (EU) if they are authorised to do so by an EU regulator. If a firm is not authorised to provide investment services and activities, it is not allowed to provide them.

The authorisation is only granted when the firm complies with certain requirements and standards which set out, among other things, how firms should treat you and what sort of information they should give you. Each country’s regulator keeps a register of firms which it regulates. This register specifies the types of investment services that each firm is authorised to provide. Authorised firms must appear in the public register of the regulator of the country in which they provide investment services. You can check if a firm is regulated in Ireland by accessing the website of the national regulator, the Central Bank of Ireland and checking its public registers.

Unauthorised firms try to avoid complying with the controls that legal, authorised entities are subject to, leaving investors totally unprotected. In some cases, national regulators identify a company or a person that is not authorised to provide investment services and who they have evidence, or suspect, of carrying out these services without proper authorisation. The details of these companies/persons are usually published on the websites of the regulators.

The investor alerts section of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) website gathers the alerts and warnings published by IOSCO members about firms which are not authorised to provide investment services in their respective jurisdictions and are believed to be, or to have been, targeting investors.

Be careful if you invest with a firm that is not authorised:

  • You run the risk of dealing with a fraudster and may lose all your money.
  • You will not have access to complaints procedures and compensation schemes in that country if things go wrong.