How to choose the right financial advisor for your expat needs

Published:  2 May at 6 PM
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One of the worst headaches for newly arrived or newly-retired expats is choosing the right financial advisor.

Whether you’ve just arrived in your new country to take up a job or are determined to spend your retirement years in an exotic destination, choosing the right financial advisor is essential for your future. You’ll need to remember that your home country’s financial watchdogs are no longer protecting you from fraud and that laws in your host country may be almost impossible for you to enforce by way of the courts.

The changing nature of investment, pension transfer and other financial products are confusing, and not all FAs in expat hubs are trustworthy. Even in your home country, due diligence is up to you, and only registered advisors can be disciplined for giving bad advice.

Tips for keeping your precious savings safe are rooted in common sense, and you don’t need to be a financial expert to undertake them. Firstly, stick to investments you’re familiar with, and don’t be tempted by unusually high returns as, if it sounds too good to be true, it’s a scam.

The ‘What if’ question is your best friend, as in ‘what if the firm goes bust’, ‘what risks are involved’ and ‘what protection do I have’? Listen very carefully to the answers and walk away if they’re not specific to your question.Take notes, ask your questions again in writing and request a written reply, important as evidence if your investment fails.

Don’t rely on references, as even crooks have friends, and attempt to verify any qualifications presented to you, although this may be difficult overseas.Cold-callers in any country are, quite simply, rogue advisors and must be avoided at all costs.

Local expat forums and online media can be useful as regards the bad as well as the good news, with checking several the best idea if your country of residence has strict defamation laws. Above all, don't mistake a carefully-planned script as friendship or a smart suit as a proof of honesty.
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