Expat Financial Advisors in Hong Kong and Singapore: Financial Guidance and expat taxes

Adam Fayed
3 min readNov 10, 2018


(If you are a British expat in Hong Kong or Singapore, or an expat in general, please send any questions related to this article to adam.fayed@iamgltd.com).

Outside of Dubai and several Middle Eastern expat hubs, Singapore and Hong Kong are still extremely popular expat destinations for bankers, lawyers, international school teachers and many other professionals. Expat populations are huge, although not increasing like before.

They are still far ahead of HCMC in Vietnam, Bangkok and Shanghai in terms of expat numbers.

What are the biggest mistakes I have seen expats make in these markets when it comes to their financial planning?

1. Thinking advisor location is important

We are in 2018 now. Automatically wanting an advisor who lives in Hong Kong or Singapore doesn’t make sense in and of itself.

Sure, if you can find a great advisor in town, take it. However, if you can find an advisor with lower fees and good service outside of the city, there is no reason to say no.

In fact, i would argue that an expat advisor who can save people time as well as money, is offering a better service. Who doesn’t want less paperwork associated with their financial planning and other things?

One of the biggest reasons for investor failure all around the world is an emotional, and not a rational, approach.

Likewise, there are some expats who continue to invest in their home countries, despite the tax implications that can sometimes cause. Again, the main reasons for this is emotions; they feel more comfortable not changing something.

2. Staying with unsuitable investments

There are many expats in Hong Kong or Singapore who have insurance-savings plans.

Typical examples include Generali Vision, RL360 Quantum, PIMS and OMI Executive Redemption Bond. There are many other similar products.

I am not saying these investments are always unsuitable, but having a review of these products is often needed.

Likewise, many British expats have put their pensions in a SIPP or QROPS. This can be a wise move, but many people have moved the pensions, and the values have subsequently not performed well relative to the market

3. Spending too much

The expat package might not last forever. So trying to keep up with the Jones’ might not make sense.

Besides as Churchill said, ‘when you are 20 you care about what other people think. When you are 40 you stop caring about what others think. And when you are 60, you realize nobody cared in the first place`. Nobody cares about what shoes you are wearing, or looking at your car.

4. Expat jobs

It is true that there are many expat job opportunities in Hong Kong and Singapore, but several of my clients have regretted moving. A small pay rise, in exchange for more job insecurity, isn’t always a good deal.

Moreover, expat salaries in Hong Kong and Singapore won’t always increase after you have already moved firm.

5. Expat tax

Most expats have no trouble paying tax, and it is collected directly from your salary. It isn’t complicated and there are several Singapore and Hong Kong expat tax calculators online.

However, remember that low tax doesn’t equal low cost. The low taxes won’t be enough (usually) to offset the international school fees and rents, unless that is part of the expat package.

As a final comment, if you have some underperforming expat investments, please check out this link:https://adamfayed.com/zurich-vista-review-rl360-quantum-friends-provident-hansard/