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Independent Financial Advisor

Independent Financial Adviser
Richard H. Colburn Cert PFS, FAIQ (CII)
Financial Adviser
Email: richard.colburn@sterling-assets.com
Telephone: 089 001 2064 (direct)

Independent Financial Advisers

If you want to invest offshore with an Institution, you will have to do so through a financial adviser. This is for your benefit to ensure that your investment vehicle really does meet your current circumstances and future needs.

An Independent financial adviser won't have either their own investment vehicles or internal funds to sell. Make sure your Financial Adviser is Independent and therefore able to select the best option for you from the entire market and not just the products of a single company.

Any investment made on the recommendation of a financial adviser should be paid directly to the Financial Institution and not to the adviser.

Take a fresh look at your financial arrangements and make sure that your money is doing all that it can for you.

It's your money and your peace of mind.

FREEDOM FROM TAX AND FREEDOM OF CHOICE

If you think that offshore financial planning means sending your money to a questionable tropical island then think again.

Investing offshore means investing in a location other than where you live. Being offshore provides expatriates with far more financial opportunities than are available in their home countries, with far less restrictions.

Offshore

One of the main benefits of investing offshore is the ability to enjoy tax free returns. If you choose to invest where you live, whether in your home country or here in Thailand as an expatriate, you will suffer some form of tax on your investments.

Most countries do offer some form of tax concessions for retirement savings, but unlike retirement planning in your home country, offshore investing does not restrict how much you can invest. Investing offshore also means that the amount that you can take as a lump sum is not restricted and that regardless of how you take the money, it can be free of tax. You won't be constrained by a Government imposed minimum age for taking your retirement benefits either and should you die before spending all your retirement fund, the full remaining balance can be passed in full and without tax to your loved ones.

Another benefit of investing offshore is having a wider range of investment vehicles and investments to choose from due to fewer investment restrictions.

Security of investment

There are many offshore financial centres offering opportunities for tax-free investment but only a handful of these are located in Group 1 OECD countries.

Among these financial centres, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man, located in the British Isles, are regarded as the safest and best regulated offshore financial centres in the world.

For anyone who is not British or has had no previous dealings with these offshore financial centres, this sometimes comes as a surprise. In my work as a financial adviser it is not unusual to hear comments like, 'I don't know anything about the British Isles and I feel safer investing in Singapore/America/....'

Singapore and the US are certainly amongst the most highly financially regulated countries in the world. Singapore's financial services industry has very strict rules and penalties and is rightly respected as a first class financial centre. But this did not prevent the collapse of Barings Bank, taking place under its own nose.

The US is a highly regulated country in all areas of life. US Accountants must wrestle with more than a hundred accounting standards, compared to around forty or so in the UK and the EU. Penalties for breaching these and other financial services rules, both financial and custodial, are far more severe in the US than the EU and yet this did not prevent the collapse of Enron and the subsequent wave of 'accounting irregularity' investigations of other brand name US corporations.

The Isle of Man happens to be a world centre for insurance business. Almost every major Insurance company in the world has a presence there because of its regulatory standards and important tax free status. It also offers the unique benefit of global investor protection. This provides investors with Isle of Man based policies, statutory compensation in the event of an Institutional meltdown, wherever they live in the world.

Thinking of going it alone?

Some people want to invest offshore but outside of an Institution. Investing in this way will mean you are not protected by a global investor compensation scheme.

Investment with an Insurance based Institution is through an investment vehicle. These vehicles are structured to ensure that your investments grow tax free. Investing through these vehicles gives investors access to far more investment opportunities than are available to the go it alone investor. The funds into which you can invest through your investment vehicle are themselves tax exempt funds, unlike those generally available to onshore investors. Some investment vehicles give investors access to funds which are only usually available to Institutional investors.

Even if you do not invest through an Institution your investment will involve using some form of intermediary, like a stockbroker or brokerage firm.

Your broker will charge annual fees, probably based on the assets under management, regardless of how actively managed those assets are, unless you really do want to do it all yourself and have the time and skills to do so.

There are other costs involved with investing. When investing in funds, (mutual and unit trusts), there will usually be a difference between the buying price and the selling price of around 7%, called the spread. Spreads are purchase premiums and represent a real cost to investors.

The best Insurance based offshore investment vehicles, offer significant discounts of up to 100% on these spreads, effectively eliminating this cost. In the case of stocks and bonds, discounts of up to 80% are available on stockbroker dealing costs. These discounts are available at surprisingly low levels of investment and certainly well below the minimum levels of investment necessary to become a 'private banking' client.

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