Expat Financial Advice in the Middle East and Asia

08/19/2022

 The Middle East and Asia's weather and lifestyle attracts thousands of expats every year. Earning a (tax-free) income under year-round sunshine is too much to resist for many, and with expat relocation packages often including rent, cars and children's education fees, in addition to an increased salary, expats often find themselves with far more excess financial liquidity than they anticipated. Whilst this change in circumstances sometimes results in more frivolous spending habits, investing wisely instead provides the opportunity to make a real difference to your financial future. However, doing your research first is essential to avoid making costly but all-too-common mistakes.

There are thousands of expat financial advisers in the Middle East and Asia while only a very few offer qualified, performance fee-based financial advice, large expat populations also usually attract those willing to take advantage of less investment-savvy expats by selling expensive, poorly regulated products for huge rewards at the expense of the investor. With so many expat financial advisers operating varying business models, choosing the right one to give you expat financial advice can mean the difference between losing capital, or enjoying a secure and flourishing investment that can secure your retirement.

Still today, the Middle East and Asia is infamous for poor levels of expat financial advice. Expensive regular savings plans, offshore bonds and suspended investment funds have caused chaos for investors over the years, often resulting in capital losses from high product costs and lock-in periods. But with increased availability of online information and improved regulation, good expat financial advisers with your interests at heart are becoming easier to find.

Choice of Currencies

Many Middle Eastern and Asian countries have currencies pegged to the US dollar owing to oil being traded in USD. As oil producing nations, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, Bahrain, Malaysia, Brunei etc. all peg currencies to USD to minimise volatility in exchange rates. With most salaries being paid in pegged currencies it makes sense to invest in USD. However, with the Middle East and Asia being transitional destinations, capitalising on exchange rates in other currencies that may be of use in the future can be of benefit, especially if you expect to retire in Europe, the UK, the US or Australia, to name a few. Using multi-currency platforms allows the simple transfer of one currency to another sub-account in EUR, GBP, AUD, SGD and HKD. So when FX rates look favourable you can purchase securities in other currencies, all within the same investment account and leaving you to sell the assets as and when your funds are required.

Remove Doubt From Investment Decisions

There are now multiple investment options available for expat investors, all with low custody fees and underlying investment costs, daily-traded liquidity and easy-to-understand charges that a good adviser can explain easily. But always remember the crucial rule of expat investing - if you can't withdraw your money quickly and penalty free, avoid the investment at all costs!

Choosing an Expat Financial Adviser

As with all investing, it is vital you speak with qualified and regulated advisers to assure you of the best advice. It is also important that your adviser works on a transparent performance fee-basis and does not take undisclosed commission from your investment, which life company bonds still permit, so always clarify the following points:

  • If fixed investment terms and redemption charges apply or the adviser is 'paid by the institution', ask for clarification on how much they get paid and how
  • Look for firms offering performance fee-based investment advice with transparent, easy to understand set-up fees and ongoing charges that are fully disclosed and agreed upon before completion of business
  • Other than set-up and ongoing management fees, advisers should be looking to reduce platform charges as much as possible, receiving remuneration only for the services they provide and not from institutions
  • Ask for clarification on underlying fund charges. Your adviser should be reducing these as much as possible to give you every possibility of a positive outcome
  • Look at the fund institutions being recommended and check regulations, track record and key statistics

To speak to a qualified and regulated adviser to help invest in the Middle East or Asia, get in touch today to remove all of your expat investment concerns and get the expertise you are looking for: info@expatwealthatwork.com