15 Myths About Working With an Offshore Wealth Manager
Contributed by WHVP
22 March, 2021
Myths about working with a wealth manager, especially an offshore one, abound. Maybe you've even heard a few; "I don't need one", "there are lots of hidden fees", "it is illegal and unethical". The truth is that wealth management, asset protection and international diversification is beneficial to vast array of people. Even though everyone has different perceptions and expectations about a financial advisor's purpose, the goal remains the same: getting your money to work for you.
The sooner you start, the better. Developing good international financial strategies now, can save you from lots of headaches later on and will help you sleep better at night.
1. Offshore banking is illegal. Many people still seem to connect the term offshore with hiding something, but nothing could be further from the truth. Not only is it perfectly legal, but if set up properly it can also be extremely beneficial.
2. Offshore banking is for tax evasion. By starting an offshore banking relationship, you get many benefits like enhanced privacy, especially in combination with a properly set up asset protection solution, you get geographical diversification and you can set up a global portfolio that is free from a U.S. home bias. However, tax evasion is not one of them. Since the beginning of 2017, the global standard on the automatic exchange of financial account information is in place. It aims to increase tax transparency and thus prevent cross-border tax evasion. So far, over 100 countries, including Switzerland, have committed to adopting the standard. However, domestic bank client confidentiality in Switzerland is not affected by this standard.
3. You need to be super wealthy. While it is true that offshore banking is not always the cheapest option (especially if you are considering Switzerland), you do not need to be an ultra-high net worth individual to profit from an offshore banking landscape. The minimum investment sizes varies from bank to bank. With greater wealth, the benefits of offshore banking start to compound, but nevertheless if you have a minimum investment size of USD 250,000 it can make sense to consider it as an option.
4. An advisor guarantees returns. They don't. They put you in a better position for making good financial decisions for short- and long-term planning by helping you put together a well diversified portfolio. No one has a crystal ball and anyone who is promising returns is usually not trustworthy.
5. They provide short-cuts to making money. Not true, although market predictions exist, no one knows for sure. Advisors can get you closer to your goal, but you need to understand the risks and measurements of time required. A good wealth manager will be able to help you cut trough the noise and better understand risks and returns of international investment strategies and diversification amongst financial jurisdictions.
6. There are many hidden fees. Ask for complete details on all-in fees for each consultation or transaction. This is your money, your future - don't be shy about it. Choose wisely and ask questions about the forms of payment. A reputable, independent asset manager usually only takes fees directly from the client and does not accept any third-party payments or retrocessions. This way they can reduce any potential conflict of interest.
7. You could do it yourself cheaper. Everyone at some point needs professional help. There's more to wealth management than making a deposit. It's about knowing how to manage the funds for growth. This is especially important if you are looking for true international investment diversification. In order to work with Swiss or European private banks you usually have to go through a registered investment advisor to be accepted as a client if you are American.
8. It is extremely complicated. Opening an offshore bank account does come with some paperwork, that cannot be denied, but working with an independent asset manager vastly reduces your work. You have one contact partner that puts all the forms together for you, prepares everything and then walks you through every form step-by-step. You can consider your independent asset manager as a one-stop-shop that takes over all the administration and coordination with the bank and that can introduce you to any additional services you may need.
9. Advisors are self-motivated. Not always true, a successful advisor succeeds when you reach your goal. Their goal is to educate you on the market choices and how to avoid a financial crisis. By working together with an independent, boutique partner that charges an all-in fee on the assets they manage, you know that your goal of building wealth is aligned.
10. Having money offshore is a huge risk. While it may sound like a leap of faith to move some of your assets offshore and hand over the management to a person on the other side of the world, it actually can reduce your risks substantially if done properly. By moving your assets offshore, you have the opportunity of choosing a safe jurisdiction like Switzerland. Switzerland is the world's oldest financial haven, local banks show professionalism and integrity and the country has a strict policy of neutrality and non-intervention. The great stability of the Swiss economy and political system have their roots in a highly developed conservatism.
11. Expensive for basic principles and advice. Individual planning is unique to your lifestyle and your situation could have complications. Good advice is not free.
12. You can always start later. It's never too late to manage finances, but it helps to start early. Also, ideally get your spouse and children involved from the beginning and make sure that they aware of what is happening as well.
13. You'll go broke when the market swings. Not necessarily. Focus on the things you can control and keep an eye on the long-term strategy. Your willingness to take risk will be a major building block of putting together an investment strategy that works for you.
14. Chasing the next big investment. Developing a financial portfolio is about building a comfortable long-term financial plan. It involves a realistic investment goal. It is important to have a steady, long-term approach to investing and not be driven by emotions or impatience.
15. You don't need to know what's happening. If your advisor doesn't keep you in the loop always it's time to change. You need to understand the whole picture, complete with details of what works or why it doesn't. Never be afraid to ask questions. Make sure that you understand what is happening and that you are onboard with wathever your advisor is proposing.
Long-term planning and good financial decisions with the help of a professional advisor is a managed future. Understanding the basics of the financial advice will help to avoid overwhelming mistakes brought on by these myths.
Further information is available at www.whvp.ch.
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