With the summer holiday period officially finished, schools are back, working life has resumed and we are seeing a lot of requests for help as people get their financial lives in order.
We thought it would be valuable to share the top 5 questions we are being asked this month.
1. I want to invest but don’t know where to start?
This is the number one question this month, and our answer is don’t start with the specific investment or markets in mind, 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 increasingly 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 difficult, verging on the impossible. 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 here, 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 one to two 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 here 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. What will Brexit mean for my investments?
A big question but it may or may not impact your investments directly. If Brexit does have an impact on your investments, it will depend on your position and your perspective. For our UK clients living in Europe, the most direct financial impact they are seeing is in currency fluctuation, as the pound continues to weaken. For some that’s an advantage as the pound becomes cheaper and others, a disadvantage- if they are earning in pounds their relative purchasing power may have decreased. One thing we are advising to our UK clients in Europe is that they do not take drastic action. If they have questions about their UK based investments and pensions they should only speak with a UK based accredited and independent adviser. For non-UK expats living in Europe, Brexit may represent opportunity or challenges. Principally, investment and market fundamentals remain consistent and are expected to do so whatever the outcome.
We hope this has helped you if you had similar questions but if your question is not covered here, send us a message and we will gladly help.