I write this blog on the 28th of November from the offices of Mazars on Tower Bridge, the architecture of which offers remarkable views, which encompass icons of this nation's past and its future. The Tower of London, a reminder of bygone disciplinarian regimes and royal authority and the future in the shape of London's latest landmark of note, the Shard perhaps representative of capitalist Britain rather than monarchist.
I ponder this at the close of one of the most significant days in recent times for the fine wine industry. Today the Wine Investment Association was launched at Mazars, with the publication of its draft Code of Practice to both trade members and press and the commencement of a consultation period to ensure future members and the community can contribute and help shape standards and procedures to provide investors in fine wine with much greater security.
The timing of the launch has coincided with the public announcement of the industry's latest casualty, Vinance plc, now in administration. Information at this stage suggests that the company's failure has resulted in a significant number of private investors having suffered losses and this being due to poor management and inadequate systems and controls.
These are exactly the issues the new Association will address with all companies subjecting themselves to an independent audit of their internal systems and controls to qualify for membership and then ongoing annual compliance audits thereafter. To be undertaken by Mazars, audit and accountancy specialists, the review will span the full process of an investment in fine wine from the initial acquisition through to storage with ownership title correctly recorded and attributed to the investor, guaranteeing the investor's wine is firstly physically present in storage as recorded and is ring-fenced from the danger of company failure.
Member companies of the Wine Association will display the WIA logo on all of their corporate documentation and promotional materials including websites. Investors will clearly be able to identify those wine investment providers that operate robust systems geared to protect their investments.
On a personal note, I am delighted that many of the practices and controls that we operate at Vin-X that I recommended to the WIA have been incorporated into the proposals set out in the draft consultation documentation. Full details on the consultation documentation are now available at www.wineinvestmentassociation.org and feedback should be provided to the Association before the 20th January 2013 when the consultation period ends.
So with the Tower and the Shard in mind, we members of the industry can genuinely say we are looking at a future where a framework of discipline is established ensuring that the capitalist aims of wine investment are undertaken on solid foundations for growth in investor protection, confidence and value.
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