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Wealth Management for Expats in the United States Of America

Submitted: July 2013

Wealth management or private banking services range from traditional lending or investment management to tax planning or asset protection.

Generally speaking, you should look for a wealth manager if you think you need help with financial planning. A bank is prone to offer you more sophisticated services as you get wealthier, but only to the extent that you park your money at this bank.

Alternatively, you may seek fee-based financial advice. Such fees can be worth the price if you hold very large sums of wealth, as the fees may be largely offset by higher returns on your investable wealth.

Issues for expatriates

Financial planning complexity increases dramatically when you become an expatriate, as additional cross-border issues must be taken into account. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Availability of USD-denominated assets
  • Availability of assets in your home country
  • Social security arrangements
  • Effects of international mobility on your pension rights
  • Your residency status for income tax purposes
  • Asset protection
  • Foreign exchange exposure See Foreign Exchange for Expats in the US
  • Inheritance law considerations, and
  • Estate tax planning.

It is essential to check if your wealth manager is qualified enough to deal with your specific cross-border issues. Many foreign financial institutions have the appropriate resources to offer wealth management services to US-resident expatriates, but many do not. However, it might be harder to find a US-based wealth manager who knows much about financial planning in your home country.

In addition, departing from your home country may be subject to some paperwork there (e.g. tax compliance, letting your insurer know that you leave (See Insurance for Expats in the US), switching to a non-resident bank account, etc.). A wealth manager in your home country is more likely to be qualified to help you with this.

In all cases, be wary of:

  • Language issues
  • Product transparency, especially with regard to the underlying risk
  • Cultural differences, and
  • How contactable your wealth manager is.

 

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