We thought it would be valuable to share some of the most frequently asked questions expats and international professionals in Europe have been asking us this year, so here they are. If you have a question reach out to us directly.
1. I want to invest but don’t know where to start?
When we speak with a new client, we always ask about what is most important to you, and what are you trying to achieve. When looking at how to re-start your investment journey in Europe, we always recommend you start with your needs and goals. When you know why you want to invest and what you want to achieve, it helps to determine how you should invest. We have had some interesting and rewarding discussions with clients helping them to put the right structures in place to help them achieve what is important to them. Expats and internationals usually have specific needs and situations which make the right structures all the more important.
2. I am American, how can I invest?
It is complex and sometimes difficult for US citizens living in Europe to manage their investments. Whilst you can open a bank account in most EU countries, our clients are finding in markets from Germany and the Netherlands, through to Italy and Spain that setting up investment accounts is often not possible. Added to that, many US trading firms are shutting down accounts for clients that are living outside the US.
Fortunately, it’s an area where we have expertise and can help. The process we follow is the same needs-based analysis we conduct for all our clients; then knowing the complexities of US tax for expats and investment restrictions we have been able to establish appropriate, compliant and sound investment strategies for our US connected clients in Europe.
3. I have just moved to the EU, what should I do?
One of the biggest challenges when you move to a new country is to get to know how to operate and live, including getting your finances in order. One of the first things we do with someone who has just moved to a new country in Europe is to get them to run a budget for a few months to get a sense of what normal expenses and cash flow will look like. This is a valuable exercise. Once that is done and all the basics are set up, we help with longer term investment, pension and retirement planning including what you have in your last country and how to optimise that. It’s important to keep on top of your long-term goals and ensure there aren’t any investment or retirement planning gaps.
4. I have been in Europe for a while and it is now time to get my finances in order, help!
If you have been in your resident country for a while, you will typically understand the local tax systems, you will have a handle on your cost of living and any employer retirement plans you may be enrolled in. Our goal here is to confirm what you are estimating in terms of cash flow budgeting, calculate those longer-term goals converting them into present value amounts, and help you invest in a way that will help you get to those goals. We always maintain a philosophy of flexibility and liquidity to give you the most options should you move to another country, or back home.
5. Is now a good time to invest?
A big question! One response is the best time to invest was yesterday (or last year). Our standard response to this question is, it depends, not very satisfying, but accurate.
If you have a short time- frame, of less than a couple of years, you might be better off not investing in the markets, or focusing on specific and defensive assets. In this shorter period, you might not have time to recover from market volatility and protecting against downside risk can be more important than gains.
If you have a longer term objective, in most scenarios, there is no benefit in waiting for that ‘right time’ to invest. Timing a market is almost impossible, and if ever achieved, is usually luck more than skill. Most investment professionals will agree with this when reviewing their own investments.
The great benefit of a long term investment is the power of compound interest over time. Therefore, getting into a market will be more valuable than sitting out looking for a buying opportunity and in the meantime potentially missing growth and returns.
Whether it is right for you specifically, will depend on your particular circumstances and you should get advice that is applicable to you and your situation.
If you have a question about how to plan your financial life and future, contact us at [email protected] and we will gladly assist you.