How To Choose The Right IFA As An Expat

Expats need expert financial advice but find the search daunting with so many sharks and scoundrels out to run off with their cash.

If you need professional help, the right advisers are out there – the problem is finding them.

What sort of financial advice do you need?

To help expats link up with a good international independent financial adviser, here are a few tips:

  • Decide what you need advice about – it may sound obvious but some expats just want basic help with insurance and savings while others are wealthy individuals who want help with specialist topics like Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) and structured products.

If you want the basics, then look for an international IFA who is regulated and authorised in the country where you live.

‘Regulated and authorised’ means the IFA has passed the required exams to give advice on specific financial matters by a government recognised financial regulator.

Generally, this comes with access to an independent grievance procedure with an ombudsman and the backing of an official financial compensation scheme if your dealings go wrong.

  • IFAs for wealthier expats looking for specialist investment advice often differentiate themselves from other IFAs as wealth managers.

These wealth managers will typically work for an international IFA network.

They will still have the same basic qualifications as a standard international IFA, but will have had to pass more exams to gain a licence to advise about pensions and investments in each country.

For instance, only Australian regulated and authorised IFAs can give QROPS or other pension advice in Australia.

Checking out your IFA

When you have drawn up a short-list of advisers, check out that they are regulated and authorised in your country with the regulator.

They should have a registration certificate that you can check out online or by calling the regulator.

Personal recommendations or testimonials are OK, but fall short in two ways – if the recommendation is from a new client, they may be well-meaning but not yet hand time to see how working with the adviser goes.

As for testimonials, anyone can arrange for someone to put in a good word.

The problem with finding a good financial adviser is you’re not likely to find out if they are doing a good job for some while.

Cross border tax and financial matters

The other issue for expats is cross-border advice. Many expats have financial interests in more than one country and need financial, tax and legal advice to effectively manage their affairs.

Only larger international wealth managers are likely to have the skills and expertise to deal with these issues, so look for a global IFA network with advisers regulated and authorised in each country where you need help.

Keeping all your financial matters under one roof makes communication a lot easier and important factors are unlikely to be overlooked.

Below is a list of some related articles, guides and insights that you may find of interest.

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