Astute Capital hit by FCA warning, still being promoted on Facebook

Astute Capital logo

The Financial Conduct Authority has posted a warning about Astute Capital, whose bonds were reviewed here in March 2019. A search for Astute Capital on the FCA register now brings up:

This is an unauthorised firm that may be providing financial services or products in the UK without our permission. If you deal with unauthorised firms you will have less protection if things go wrong.

along with details of what to do if investors think they have been scammed.

What to do if you think you’ve been scammed?

It can be easy to fall for a scam – the people that run them are skilled at persuading their targets to part with money. If you think you have been contacted about a scam or have paid money to fraudsters there are steps you can take to protect yourself.

Exactly what regulated financial services the FCA think Astute Capital is carrying out is currently unclear. Astute Capital’s main business is commercial lending, which does not require authorisation for the FCA. Astute Capital has raised money from investors via bonds listed on the Euronext, Vienna and Frankfurt Stock Exchanges. That does not require authorisation from the FCA either.

I was unable to find a current trading price for Astute Capital bonds on any of these exchanges, suggesting the bonds remain illiquid.

In 2019 Astute Capital promoted its bonds directly to the public via Google ads.

Astute Capital Google ad

That did require authoristion from the FCA – and as Astute didn’t have that itself, it would have needed a third party to sign off the ads (Section 21 authorisation). But that was back in 2019 so it seems unlikely that it has anything to do with the FCA’s warning. But it took them 5 years to issue a warning against Asset Life plc so who knows.

In interim accounts for 2019, Astute Capital stated that it had terminated all relationships with unregulated introducers.

Yeah, totally can’t read that at all.

Despite this, Astute Capital is being promoted on Facebook by a third party unregulated introducer called “IPB”, in bizarre ads which sort-of but-don’t-really-at-all obscure Astute’s name.

Who is behind IPB is unclear as no ownership details are provided on its Facebook page. Similarly unclear is why IPB are promoting Astute after they claimed to have stopped taking money via introducers.

Astute Capital funds are on-lent to Astute Capital Advisors Limited, which recently published accounts for March 2020, showing it to be £6.9 million in the red with a loss of £3.5 million. The company stated that it believed the company was nonetheless a going concern and attributed its losses to the young age of the company.

In Astute Capital plc’s accounts, the directors stated that they expect ACA to generate returns of at least 30% per year, plus profit shares.

The average forecasted returns for ACA on its loan book is circa 30% per annum, plus profit shares structured by way of minimum earning written in the loan documents and should be taken into consideration when assessing ACA alongside interest earnings.

As of March 2020 Astute Capital plc had taken in £20.2 million of investor money, according to its published accounts.

Astute Capital previously stated that it was hoping to obtain FCA registration in 2020. Instead all the company has managed to obtain from the FCA is a public warning.

4 thoughts on “Astute Capital hit by FCA warning, still being promoted on Facebook

  1. This is not our advert. We are being targeted by a someone trying to damage our Business. The FCA thought we may be targeting restricted retail which we do not, hence why their publication is not a warning and it states they think we MAY be providing financial services without authorisation. We take compliance very seriously at Astute and it is a shame there are individuals and competing companies that are trying to damage our business. We do not require authorisation and we make that clear to all our investors.

  2. The FCA do not put companies on their warning list without reason.

    Good article Brev.

  3. As of 25/3/2022 Astute have written to investors saying that it is likely they will not be able to repay bonds under ISA wrap that are maturing after 3 years on 31st March.
    They are urging investors to reinvest in the equity of the Company – docusign being sought as an emergency by 31/3/2022 – worryingly pushy and very little time to investigate. No mention of Company financial situation in real terms or what investment would look like after if no one signs.

  4. I’m afraid to say that, having spoken to them yesterday, the company goes into receivership if this course of action is not approved by at least 75% of the Investors. What happens then is anybody’s guess.

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