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Excellent, Smart, Low-Cost Investing for Expatriates

Expatriates often realise substantial tax benefits from investing in offshore markets.

Expatriates are typically not taxed by their country of citizenship on income and assets held outside their home country. Additionally, many countries do not tax expatriates on their investments and income earned beyond their borders. This creates a substantial benefit and a huge incentive for expats to move their investments to one of the offshore centers. Doing so allows them to save tax and to potentially access a greater array of investment opportunities than exist in either their home country or the country where they work.

The Problem of “Cowboy” IFAs

Until relatively recently, the only way expatriates could gain access to the offshore markets was through armies of lightly regulated or unregulated independent (British) financial advisors (IFAs). These IFAs, who have varying degrees of experience and professionalism, act as a direct sales force for the various product providers located in the offshore markets. Unfortunately, what expatriates save on home country tax, they typically more than pay away in fees on high-cost, complicated, non-transparent, opaque investment products (portfolio bond, savings plan etc.).

In some cases, they were subject to outright fraud and embezzlement by “cowboy” IFA outfits.

Fortunately, expatriates now have better options. The rise of investment platforms afford expatriates the opportunity to build low-cost, globally diversified investment portfolios in a highly regulated environment. Expatriates retain the tax benefits of investing outside their home countries without incurring excessive fees or enduring poorly regulated (British) financial salespeople masquerading as advisors.

Five Advantages of our Investment Platform

Here are the key benefits of using our platform:

1. Lower product fees

The typical offshore mutual fund has high annual expenses running up to 2% and more. Additionally, there are front-end fees of between 3% and 7%. Insurance-linked investment products are even more expensive, with several layers of fees that total 4% or 5% annually, not including front-end fees, which are often hidden in the bid-offer spread.

By using our investment platform, expatriates can build diversified portfolios with low-cost funds. This savings on product and portfolio fees goes directly into your pocket.

2. Greater product choice

We provide an integrated platform that makes it easy to trade global on multiple exchanges and assets denominated in multiple currencies from a single account. For example, our platform allows you to trade on over 120 exchanges around the world, providing direct market access to stocks, options, futures, forex, fixed income bonds, and ETFs from a single account that can be funded in multiple currencies.

In contrast, IFAs provide access to the same high-cost funds and insurance-linked products from a relatively small number of offshore fund and insurance firms based in Isle of Man, Guernsey, Dublin, Mauritius, Cayman Islands etc. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever see one of these product salespeople recommending a diversified portfolio allocated among low-cost funds.

3. No lock-in or surrender fees

The insurance-linked investment products sold in the offshore market impose a surrender fee that can last five to twenty five (!) years in the worst cases. Lengthy lock-in periods are designed to ensure the product provider is reimbursed for the commission it paid to the IFA who sold you the product. This locks you into a high-cost product, and since the IFA has already been paid, there is little incentive for ongoing advice.

There are typically no surrender fees or lock-in periods with investments or portfolios on our investment platform.

4. Low trading/switching costs

With many offshore product providers, and particularly with insurance-linked products, there are substantial costs or limitations on switching funds. This is a significant impediment to rebalancing an investment portfolio. With our investment platform, investments can be bought and sold with no restrictions, which greatly reduces portfolio management costs.

5. Easy to integrate with a true advisory service

The traditional IFA financial service model is really a sales-driven model where IFAs act as a direct sales force for a relatively limited number of product providers located in the offshore markets. Products are sold on a commission basis, which incentivises the sale of high-commission products and provides little incentive for proper ongoing investment management and advice. The more high-commission products sold, the more commission earned by the IFA.

Our investment platform provides an effective, low-cost alternative for those who want to build a successful portfolio and it also provides a good alternative for those who don’t really have the time, knowledge, or inclination to do it themselves.

Rather than paying high fees to access products, you can focus on getting proper investment and financial advice geared to your long-term financial well-being. Portfolios can be built on an investment platform for a fraction of the cost of portfolios constructed from the typical investment products sold in the offshore markets. This low-cost access can be coupled with an advisory service that helps you devise and manage a globally diversified investment portfolio. The benefits of this approach are low fees and ongoing advice aligned with your long-term interests.

Consider Your Options

Next time you receive a cold call or an email from someone pitching a commissions loaded offshore product, consider us today.