In the race for investment returns, many expats invest. Whilst this is much wiser than keeping money in the bank, not all plans are made equally.
A case in point is savings plans and offshore bonds. In the offshore expat markets, savings plans are one of the most commonly sold financial products. Few people seem happy with them.
In this article I will review some common expat savings plan, portfolio bonds, pensions and pension trustees for UK expats; and discuss whether people should keep investing into them or seek an alternative arrangement.
The article below is long and extension due to reader requests to add more content, compared to the original version.
If you are too busy to read the article and want me to review your policy, don’t hesitate to contact me on email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or via the numerous options on the bottom of this article.
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What are expat savings plans?
Most expat savings plans are insurance-investment plans, offered by expat financial advisors and wealth managers, locals and banks. If you die you will get 101% of the value of the account. For example, if the value of the investment is $100,000, your offspring will get $101,000 on death.
Typically, the plans have a contribution period. 5 years is often the shortest time you can save, with 25–30 years being the longest plans. Typically, the 20–30 year savings plans are sold more widely-sold in the expat markets.
These plans are generally coming from Isle of Man, Jersey, Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, Guernsey and numerous other offshore locations.
That isn’t the problem with these plans. All locations, offshore and onshore, these days have strict investment rules in the wake of the financial crisis. It does also make sense for expats to invest offshore, for tax reasons, with the exception of Americans.
The issue is more the investments within the plans, and the terms and conditions, not the locations where the money is held.
Who buys these plans?
People from all around the world. In general, I find British expats are most likely to buy the plans, followed by Nordic, French, Indian, Chinese, Australian and numerous other nationalities.
What can you do if you have one of these plans and are worried about them?
Seek advise. Depending on the terms and conditions associated with your account, it may be possible to go for a cheaper alternative or reduce the existing fee structure in the account. I hope this article helps in that process.
Who are the major providers and products and where are they sold?
Major providers and products include:
- Generali Vision. Now provided by Upmost Wealth Solutions in Guernsey. So Generali Vision is now commonly called Upmost Vision Plan.
- Zurich Vista
- Friends Provident Premier Advance Savings Plan
- Hansard Vantage Savings Plan
- Hansard International Vantage Platinum 11
- RL360 Insurance Company Limited (RL360) Quantum
- RL360 Paragon
- AXA Pulsar
- Providence Life Compass Account
- Hansard Infinity Wealth
- Hansard Infinity Wealth Access
- Premier Trust Global New Horizon
- Premier Trust Global Premier Provest Principal Protection
- Premier Trust Global Provest plan
- HSBC International Wealth Builder Accounts
- Canada Life Offshore Savings Account
These plans are sold all over the world. However, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Amsterdam, Shanghai, Thailand especially in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, HCMC in Vietnam, Spain, France, Tokyo, South Africa, Seoul, Germany, Switzerland and Brussels are some typical destinations where the plans are sold.
The plans are also sold in Phnom Penh in Cambodia, Manila, Laos, India and countless other emerging destinations, where expat numbers are rising.
The lump-sum products associated with these life companies are also sold extensively in Australia, Canada and New Zealand, due to QROPS pensions and SIPPS for British expats.
Due to the fact that most of these insurance companies are based in the Isle of Man or other overseas British territories, it is common for British expats to buy the policies.
How do they typically work?
The cost of the plans is typically levied upfront, due to sales and admin costs. The client is then reimbursed some of that cost at the end of the plan, in the form of bonuses.
Let’s take a simple example of a person who buys a 10-year savings plan. If he or she pays the premium over 120 months, the total costs of the plans are often 1–2% per year.
Sounds reasonable enough. But if the client stops paying halfway through the contract, the actual cost is closer to 4% per year, because the end of contract bonuses are usually not given back to the client.
Premium holidays are possible, but they don’t come cost-free.
Can the client make good money on these plans?
A small percentage do, but almost all those small percentage of success stories are people who keep contributing to the end of the term……
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