An increasing number of professionals of all nationalities have been moving and working abroad in the last decade. Whether you are a young executive or a high net worth individual with a diversified portfolio of global assets, you will have specific financial requirements and objectives.
Offshore financial products and services can help you achieve financial security and provide you with the quality of life you require as an expatriate or international investor.
Investing in international accounts is no longer the premise of the rich and famous; all expatriates living abroad may now enjoy flexibility, among other benefits, by investing their money overseas. The offshore financial industry has become more popular as financial institutions from around the world have entered the offshore market as a result of the high demand.
There are now many providers that offer a broad range of services ranging from saving schemes to pension and retirement plans and wealth management accounts to lump sum investment products.
As an expatriate or international investor, there are fundamental questions you may want to ask yourself when it comes to your personal finances, for example:
Are you financially making the most of your time overseas?
Does the country in which you now live and work have a lower cost of living than in your home country? Do you benefit from a lower taxation?
Do you benefit from extra financial incentives offered in a bid to get you to accept a position with more risk or to take a contract that others may find unattractive?
As an expatriate, you are possibly in a privileged position to maximise your wealth and secure your financial future whilst living overseas. You may be able to save in three to five years what an average investor may save throughout his entire working life simply by considering some of the options available to you such as:
- Maximise your offshore earnings & invest over the short, medium or long term
- Taking advantage of the many offshore tax friendly possibilities
- Using your time overseas wisely
Furthermore, you are legally entitled to take advantage of any tax savings offered in your country of residence.
Income or gains may only be taxable if they are remitted to (or brought into) the country in which you are now living. It may therefore be possible to remit only the basic minimum for living costs and save on income and capital gains in your new country of residence.
THE BIG PICTURE – HOW TO LOOK AT YOUR FINANCES & PLOT THE RIGHT COURSE
Here are a few options you may want to consider to work towards building a wealthier future whilst living overseas
Choose the jurisdiction that is right for you
There are many offshore jurisdictions with tax friendly policies that offer attractive investment opportunities to expatriates. When choosing the right jurisdiction as the harbour for your money, considerations need to be made based on a number of factors, including:
- Your country of residence
- Your nationality
- Other countries to which you may wish to relocate
- If and when you will be returning home
To find out what investment opportunities are available to you and in which jurisdictions you will benefit most from by investing your money, you should speak to a financial consultant.
A locally focused financial consultant with international knowledge and a comprehensive overview and understanding of all ‘offshore’ options available is your most valuable contact when it comes to planning how to invest your excess income.
A portfolio bond is a simple holding structure for a wide range of investment vehicles such as stocks, shares, bonds and funds. It provides a flexible solution for your investments and usually offers greater tax efficiency.
Key features include:
- Convenience of holding all assets in one portfolio
- Significant initial discounts from fund management groups
- Opportunity for greater tax efficiency
- Ability to transfer to existing quoted share holdings
- Greater investment freedom
- Flexibility to change your investment portfolio at any time
- Easy access to capital
- Regular income facility
A portfolio bond gives you access to a full range of investment vehicles and enables you to have all assets handled by professional asset managers. In certain jurisdictions, portfolio bonds are 100% free of local taxes.
A hybrid company is limited by both shares and a guarantee and therefore has two groups of members – shareholders and guarantee members. A guarantee member holds a contingent liability and agrees to contribute to the debts of the company up to a specified amount. This contrasts with the shareholder who holds an asset – the shares. The hybrid company can be structured in a way that may potentially avoid or reduce inheritance tax, or probate yet still provide all the advantages and benefits of investing offshore.
In the past, investors would contact traders by phone, who in turn would buy shares on behalf of their clients. However with modern technology it is now possible to trade online using an online trading platform. For those who want to take a more active role in their investments, a trading platform can provide easy access to a variety of investment funds and usually offer up to date market data and analysis and instant portfolio access 24/7, 365 days a year.
Offshore bank accounts
Most UK banks have offshore divisions. An offshore bank account will provide you with the comfort of dealing with English speaking professionals who understand the needs of expatriates. However do not forget that even though you will have moved your money offshore you will still have to pay certain taxes. Please remember charges on offshore accounts can be high.
Offshore policyholder protection
In the present climate, most offshore investors require some level of protection. One way to evaluate the types of protection available is to compare offshore options to onshore products.
Always ensure that the jurisdictions are well regulated. Ireland, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Luxembourg are all jurisdictions that are highly regulated. Consistent reporting enables the regulators to monitor the position of the insurer and inform them of any corrective steps that may need to be taken in order to protect the policy holders of the insurance company.
The above jurisdictions impose minimum solvency margin requirements upon the life offices they regulate and these companies are usually required to hold a balance of several millions of pounds or euros more than their liabilities.
Ireland and Luxembourg have implemented the same EU solvency directives. The Isle of Man and Guernsey have similar minimum solvency requirements.
Make a will
In the UK, if you die without a will (intestate) you can leave those you care about to face a number of issues. However if you die abroad without a will, the arrangements can prove to be even more complicated and difficult for your loved ones.
Having a will in the UK does not necessarily mean you will be protected. Every country has its own laws governing what you can and cannot do with your assets.
It is important to investigate this locally and it may be necessary for you to complete a new will in the country in which you reside. For example, some European countries do not allow you to leave your home to your spouse alone; instead you are obliged to share it amongst your children too.
Receive financial advice
Getting to grips with the complexities of planning your finances and understanding how to protect and build your wealth requires professional advice.
If you haven’t started planning yet, now is the time to start.