Category: QROPs Thailand

QROPS Thailand news and views regarding Qualified Recognised Overseas Pensions.especially regarding QROPS encashment

International Education Thailand 9 Nov

British English, or American English Education?

Warning to grammar police some parts of this blog post are about pronunciations so turn down your spelling radar!

Tomaytoes, Tomartoes let’s call the whole thing off, so the song went.

For Oxford educated elitists, grammar Nazis, who constantly attack me believe it or not dear reader, and Americans who have never set foot outside their own state, the debate between the Queen’s English (Only she and her family speak like that I promise!) and the way English language pronounced everywhere else, is a hot debate.

The question really is if you have children do you want them to have aloominum sidings or alew-minnium sidings, anyways only Americans even know what a siding is!

The British introduced the language to the Americas when they reached these lands by sea between the 16th and 17th centuries. At that time, spelling had not yet been standardised (stet! add to dictionary again, Google swears it is spelled with a z, z is worth 10 in Scrabble for a reason!). It took the writing of the first dictionaries to set in stone how these words appeared. In the UK, the dictionary was compiled by London-based scholars.

Black Adder and the one about the Lexicon.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the lexicographer was a man named Noah Webster. Allegedly, he changed how the words were spelled to make the American version different from the British as a way of showing cultural independence from its mother country.

When relocating to Thailand or you are a long-term expat and your children born in Thailand are now ready to start school, you may need to find a suitable school for your children. In Bangkok, there are many British schools intended to make life easier for children moving to the country from the UK. These schools use a curriculum that follows the curriculum currently used in the UK.

International schools in Thailand

However, the curriculum is also modified to meet the international standards for educational institutions. Enrolling your child in a British school should make their transition a little easier. It may provide less of a culture shock for your child to attend a school that includes other students that come from British families.

You also have many options to accommodate your scheduling needs. For example, there are boarding schools that offer part-time and full-time boarding. There are also schools that follow normal school hours.

The Bangkok international school market is well served with over 70 schools including 38 British schools, 21 American schools and 23 I.B. schools. While the British Curriculum puts a lot of emphasis on G.S.E. subject exams and the A –levels, the American curriculum lays more emphasis on student choice and freedom. These curricula also differ from the way they are managed or accredited to the actual content.

The best countries for education are ranked based on a perception-based global survey. This survey used a compilation of scores from three equally weighted attributes: a well-developed public education system, would consider attending university there, and provides top-quality education. As of 2018, the top ten countries based on education rankings are:

So, based on this you are probably better to have a British educated child, they will easily pick up Americanisms from the movies!

One thing is for certain if one parent is not Thai, then you do not have the right to send your children to the Thailand state schools, whether you wanted to or not. And just being born in Thailand does not entitle you to an automatic Thai passport or citizenship, so it will be a choice of paying for an international school or them climbing the walls for eternity!

I think the teacher is on drugs!

If you like me dear reader and you have a child with learning difficulties, then you are in for a harder ride as there are very few internationally recognised special needs schools available in the Kingdom.

Another problem standing in the way of treating L.D. (Learning Disabilities) students is a lack of special education teachers. Reports tell us that there are currently only around 350 special education teachers in Thailand in the Thai public sector despite a soaring demand for such specialists.

Chulalongkorn University, host to the prestigious Faculty of Education, has only two professors teaching Counseling Psychology, Guidance and Special Education degrees.

The course takes in an average of 20 students per year.

To ease the issue, the Faculty of Education should offer scholarships for prospective students who have L.D. to create a generation of L.D. teachers intimately familiar with the experience of learning difficulties.

The problems for Non-Thais with learning disabilities grows exponentially from there.

Regular Schooling Costs

As with a lot of things in Bangkok, the costs are also lower than other parts of the world. Fees range from $5,000 a year through to $30,000 at the high-end schools. This compares well with other parts of Asia and Europe. 

Now you are beginning to understand why that middle aged Financial Advisor was harping on about school fees when you were single and free in your mid-twenties back then in the 1980-90’s , he knew then that if you cut down on your drinking by just a pint a day and put that cash away then , with compound interest and generally good sound basic financial acumen, not taught in schools I may add,  school fees would not even be a concern for you right now!

If You find you are a middle aged Dad, let us face it  Southeast Asia is rife with this kind of happening as the climate and many other factors blatantly obvious to long term expats to the Kingdom make an ideal breeding ground (sorry could not resist) for the Thai/European Look-krueng (mixed race child) that are all over the television shows on Thai TV when they grow up.

YayaYing famous Mixed race Celebrity.

 If you are now wondering how to get your kids packed off to school, then perhaps you already have the cash available in your pension pot, but you forgot you are now entitled to some or not all of it

If you have a QROPS (Qualified Reccognised Overseas Pension Scheme) or any kind of pension, and you need some cash quick to pay for a decent school then perhaps we can help with a QROPS encashment or a better jurisdiction and tax efficient vehicle for your hard-earned savings.

We are just a coffee away! Contact us here

Cash portfolio 4 Nov

Have you converted your portfolio to cash? Breakfast with our finance guru.

Being close to a good financial manager who is closer to you and your needs more than a large fund manager who manages billions from thousands of clients he has never met, comes with dividends.

Over the weekend I had the privilege of being treated to breakfast in an Irish pub by one our financial gurus. Sadly, many tourists to Thailand are conspicuous in their absence and we seem to be the only ones there. His passion for the finance industry always surprises me, let alone his passion for greasy Breakfasts!

Sadly, I was hungover, and he was disappointed to be eating alone, nevertheless he wanted to tell me about one serious point that he feels many financial managers miss out on, in particular going liquid during dips and you would be blind not to see this dip coming:

“It is the USA Election week, and many pivotal Covid decisions are being made across Europe which will almost certainly mean a fall in equities across the board. Now the big boys will just take the hit, and wait for it to correct itself, which means losing a lot of your portfolio value for a while, and just waiting for the correction.

Whilst dips always happens in the financial markets,  all good financial managers expect them and know real gains come with patience and time, however you can become complacent sometimes and  rely on the long ball game, whereas real gains can be made in converting most of your portfolio to cash when you know a huge dip is imminent, because it is here and now, when our clients have liquid cash that you can pick up many stocks with, whilst they are bargain price, plus at the same time protecting your overall fund from the uncertainty of world affairs.

So instead of just absorbing the hit you knew was coming, our clients are not dropping at all, in fact they are taking advantage of the dip and growing because we are picking up some good stock at very cost-effective prices. Blue chips like Barclays and Nat West have never been cheaper right now, and when we know the markets are going to correct soon after, why not use this as a time to buy, then when the correction comes, rather than your fund dipping then rising, we get double the rise for our clients.

This is one of the advantages of a boutique financial house rather than the major institutions many have trusted their pension to, and the big institutions always perform,  don’t get me wrong, but if you can take a bit more time to go ‘shopping for bargains with your cash when you see the obvious opportunities, ’ then you can probably make quite a bit more for your clients.”

“Why did they not teach us this stuff at school?”  I asked. “Seems you don’t have to be a genius to know when a dip is coming, they are like clockwork in many instances, the basics of growth is buying at a good price and selling at profit, you don’t need a university degree to know this do you?”

“Maybe the banks and managers of massive funds don’t want everyone to know what they are doing on a daily basis” Our expert continued, “I mean we didn’t ask to see how my eggs were cooked I just trusted them to do a good job, that’s what the majority expect of their banks and financial managers.

However it is good to see that in 2020 more and more people are learning about finance, and not leaving their future to someone they don’t even know, and it really is not such a gamble in many aspects, the elections in the U.S. come every 4 years, there are many elections that happen across Europe every few months and they all effect the world economy and as long as you keep a broad eye on the news you can get a reasonable feel to when dips are coming.

Good financial management is about balance of high risk and low risk and the rest in between, it is as much about the mix between cash, Gold, equities, property and even Crypto-currencies. Also; you must take into consideration your client for example; a 20-year-old will have a completely different portfolio than a 60-year-old. Everyone is different, this is why we advise only after we get to know their individual circumstances, financial management is never a one size fits all.

Some middle-aged people are scared to meet a financial advisor as they feel they are going to tell them to stop drinking, smoking, eating, get a cheaper house, save more blah blah! And just stop doing everything fun now to retire well, when of course that is not what we are about at all. We are as much about enjoying the now as we are about having enough to enjoy the later.

enjoy life save 10%
Enjoy today with an eye on tomorrow

The most important thing is we hope everyone learns a little from us even if they don’t take our advice and after all that is all we do, offer advice, and where to put funds. If you take our advice and you choose a fund or a pension vehicle, you invest in one the big companies and not us, however we remain on hand to advise on a regular basis.

That and Pensions they already have, when I advise clients, I   often advise better jurisdictions of the management of the funds, the funds never move out of the institutions they were originally trusted to, we just know that managed better by a more pro-active team can reap massive rewards to clients.

At the end of the day the decision is the clients, just like going the doctors for an annual checkup, he might just advise you to ease up on the cigars 0r the whisky, yet at the end of the day it is your constitutional right to enjoy yourself however you see fit, it is just our advisors can help you make financial decisions that make sure you can pay for it later!”

Most of us get regular health checkups and pay a doctor for the service but few get a financial review which is free, go figure?

For a free financial review and no politics contact us here.

best year in Thailand 31 Oct

What was the best year for expats in Thailand?

Everyone will have a different view on their favourite year as an expat, usually it is the first few years they lived in Thailand. However asking around the same year came up a lot….

The year is 2005 and UK expats in Thailand never had it so good, you received 75 THB to 1 British Pound, so if you were a pensioner your state pension of around 150 Pounds per week would have given you around 48,000 THB a month. Beer was around 40 baht a bottle in a restaurant or beer bar and rents for a studio condo outside central Bangkok was around 5,000 THB a month.

I remember I paid 15,000 THB for a return flight for my first holiday to Thailand in 2003, which seemed a lot at the time, if you can get a flight for that now, you are probably flying on Aeroflot where the plane is held together by duct tape, or your flight is in 5 parts with days stay overs at various airports and although you left clean shaven, you arrive at your final destination with a beard a bear trapper in the Rockies would be proud of!

We flew into KL Malaysia, where we looked around the city for two days then got the sleeping train (with a bed and air con) train to Thailand which I remember costing less than 8 pounds at the station for a 600 km journey. We crossed the border to Songkhla in March 2003, en route to 10 glorious days on Koh Samui island.

The first thing I remember was the heat and buying a coke, and I got it in a plastic bag with ice, which was the first time I was introduced to the Thai’s dependence on plastic, the coke was 5 baht, and I remember the shock at how cheap a street meal was at street meal was 15-20 baht!

Cow pat Gai Kai dow khaap

Fast forward today; Pensions are around 175 GBP per week if you can get the full entitlement, and you now get circa 40 THB for the pound, so about 30,000 THB per/month after the exchange and beer in a club is on average 150-200 baths a bottle and rents for studios are currently around 10,000 THB a month. A street meal still one of the cheapest in the world is around 60-80 baht.

 Is it any wonder the general happiness of retirees is rock bottom? Throw in a global pandemic and it sometimes feels the only joy for many is remembering the good old days.

175 GBP is also the top amount you can get if you are 65 years young today and paid into your National Insurance for around 25-30 years. If you are mid 50’s now you have to wait until you are 67 years old to collect.

Any good financial advisor will have his head in his hands sobbing for you if you tell him you only have your state pension to look forward to and you cannot wait to retire!

State Pension payments are provided by the Department for Work and Pensions (D.W.P.) to diligent Britons who have put forward years of National Insurance contributions. However, while the sum is a valuable source of income in retirement, those who are looking at leaving the workforce soon have been warned it may not be enough to see them through their later years.

Financial experts have warned that Britons could not simply rest on the state pension to see them through retirement. You can’t rely on the state pension alone, it isn’t guaranteed, and at what the current amount offers you monthly, it’s nowhere near enough to provide you with the lifestyle you are currently used to if you have a good steady job.

How much for 1 GBP?

“But even if you have a company pension, that and the state pension on their own probably are not going to get you very far to the level of income you’d be hoping for.

Auto-enrolment has been great as it means more people now have a pension because you don’t have to proactively opt-in. However, the downside is that some people assume that because this is set up you don’t need to do anything else and that it’s all sorted. That is an area which is worth looking deeper into because on its own it really isn’t going to be enough.

The vast majority of people need to be thinking more about putting money towards your retirement in an active way. If you just rely solely on what is going into your company pension, you’re likely to get a bit of a rude awakening.

The pensions freedom act came in in 2015 and thereafter so many UK pensioners are finding the freedom to do as they wish with their savings is sadly not quite delivering the happiness they had hoped for.

Since rules governing how pensions can be taken were dramatically relaxed in 2015, more than a million over-55s have gone on a freedom-fueled spending spree.

More than £23bn has been “cashed out” from the nation’s pension pots via more than 5m individual payments. Research suggests that much of this cash has been spent paying down debt, renovating homes, upgrading cars or helping adult children on to the property ladder.

Whilst property is, and should be part of anyone’s portfolio, I am not sure paying off debts, whilst helping you sleep better at night and protecting your kneecaps in the most extreme of cases, is a good financial decision.

The sad fact is:

Most can’t be trusted with their own cash

In Robert Kiyosaki’s best selling book Rich Dad Poor Dad he asked a group of young people what they would do if they won the lottery or came into a large cash windfall, and the overwhelming reply was property. Yet he insists they are making a fundamental mistake, because they have no financial acumen.

Buying a house is a good decision for most working people, because it will become their most valuable asset and they will more than likely stay in the house for more than ten years which is the historical point when property starts to grow in value, and gain good equity.

However people who come into money suddenly, do not realise how much their lifestyle will change often they find they will travel more and have more choices about where they will want to live, more then often will sell properties after a year or two making a huge loss, they then repeat this cycle until their subconscious mind takes them back to where they were happiest, and it is hardly surprising how many recent heirs to fortunes are unhappy as it is such a dramatic change for them.

Everyone needs to have a good friend who will be brutally honest to you, someone who is financially educated, and has done well regarding their own financial affairs, to help you not make original mistakes, the world of money has rarely changed over the last century,  we  should all take time out to educate ourselves into how money works, yes it does not buy happiness, but it sure is better to cry in a Mercedes than on the bus!

Let us have a coffee together and give you the best advice of how to try to enjoy your life now, and if you are lucky enough to make it to retirement age, have some cash then as well.

Many people I speak to are scared to have a financial review as it will highlight major misgivings and make them sadder, but the truth is your friendly neighborhood financial adviser enjoys a beer and golf too ,so they won’t make you lock yourself up at work everyday till you have a decent pension pot, they are all about ‘good balance.’

Golf and financial review with no guilt!

You would also be surprised at how educated they are on all the latest government changes that you could take full advantage of now, and perhaps change your future dramatically, but you will never know if you don’t try!

They even buy the coffee (they will kill me for telling you that!!)

work on the beach 26 Oct

Just build a website they said, live on the beach…oh really?

So, you have been on a Thai holiday, you have felt the sun on your back and tasted the inexpensive Thai food, now you want to live here? Excuse the sarcasm, those of us who have lived here ten years plus, we hear it every week.

“Now your friend, tell me about him again, the one with the websites selling Thai statues and cushions, yes him who is retired at 35, drinks all day, rings the bell in bars and is currently in some hedonistic utopia.”

It is human nature to boast about one’s achievements, especially if the reality is very hard to bear. Most people I have met in the last 17 years in Thailand have all lost cash in Thailand, yes made some, but in the end, they are mostly out of pocket than in the pocket.  Factor in 2020 and if you have a bricks and mortar business that relies on tourists coming in, it makes for very sad reading indeed.

Working online is an easy way to live on the beach.

Over the last few years, e-commerce has become an indispensable part of the global retail framework. Like many other industries, the retail landscape has undergone a substantial transformation following the advent of the internet, and thanks to the ongoing digitalization of modern life, consumers from virtually every country now profit from the perks of online transactions.

As internet access and adoption are rapidly increasing worldwide, the number of digital buyers keeps climbing every year. In 2019, an estimated 1.92 billion people purchased goods or services online, and during the same year, e-retail sales surpassed 3.5 trillion U.S. dollars worldwide.

So, if it is so easy why isn’t everyone doing it?

According to Malcom Gladwell’s book Outliers it takes around 10,000 hours to be good at anything, that is 13 months straight by the way, factor in rest and sleep, so; 3 years. This was roughly the time the Beatles honed their skills in Hamburg. This is generally the time to complete an apprenticeship or get a University degree.

The rule is based on research into the abilities of top performers in various fields like mathematics, chess, tennis, swimming, and music.

The research shows that for the overwhelming majority of experts who reach the top of their fields (for instance, chess grand masters or great composers) have spent a minimum of ten years acquiring and honing their skills.

The few who are exceptions to this rule are found to hit their expert status in year eight or nine of their careers—not far short of the average. So being a prodigy with a “gawd given” talent is just a myth.

The 10,000 hours rule dictates that you need an enormous volume of time. That’s what it takes in order to become a master of your craft.

This, says Gladwell, is true even if you are a prodigy. However, even though this has largely been disputed, there is some truth to it.

Practice makes perfect. In a world where our attention is short, this is a hard thing to learn.

However, whilst you are a newbie at a new trade, or you need time to build up a brand, you must compete with the human condition which is hunger, sleep, love and belonging, all the things that Maslow talked about in his hierarchy of being. All this ‘learning’ costs time, and time costs money so the big question is:

 Do you have 3 years ‘living money’ spare?

Further to this you are going to make mistakes in any new activity that you try to live in Thailand.

Back in 2010 we started an online business and a website company, naming no names but they were a Swedish outfit 2 brothers who charged us 1 million THB for a website! Yes, we threw 1 million Thai baht of our hard cash to build a website and this was when the baht was around 60 to the British Pound! Now we know to build the very basics of a website costs less than 50 U.S.D!

Then we paid a Thai /Danish company 1 million baht to do some marketing on Social Media for us which lasted about 6 weeks and they were done with us and stopped answering emails, unless we coughed up some more money.

Yes, we were stupid, but knowledge comes through learning and making mistakes. Knowledge that we use now to build on our websites and do our own marketing costing us 4 commas to the left of what we paid 10 years ago.

So, you need learning money too, unless you already are established online and have done your time.

Consistency is also the key to any online business success, back in 2000 a website was a fortune and you were almost guaranteed business by being so forward thinking, but technology is a fickle business.

Have you ever watched a movie from only 5 years ago and thought OMG! Would you look at that antiquated phone they are using? 

Technology moves so fast, if you are not updating your website 3 times a week with good original blogs that inspire, educate, give altruistically tips and tricks from your own knowledge that you have spent years learning to brand you as a business leader and someone whom people can do business with, you will be doomed to page 5 of Google and we website people have a joke:

Where is the best place to bury a dead body?

Page 5 of Google’s Search pages! Nobody ever looks there!

Globalization

How many websites??

When it comes to websites and working online it is not for the feint-hearted, the statistics will tell you this:

In 20202 so far there was around 1,780,279,247 and it appears to be growing quickly. The truth is, however, that only a fraction of these sites are actually active. 

 About 1,580,279,247 websites on the internet are inactive.

(Source: Internet Live Stats)

Although the number of websites as of 2020 online is not short of two billion, only a small number of these are active. In fact, only about 200 million websites are active. 

In business and life, the 2% rule prevails, no matter what you do only 2% are dogmatic enough to see it through to the end and have the patience to wait and try many different things to be successful.

So now you need 3 years domestic money, three years learning money and now you are up against the mountain of failures who will tell you working online is one of the most difficult ways to make money anywhere!

My advice to anyone is if you have started a website and aim to live online with your passion and you have ‘blind faith’ you  know you have something that satisfies the end need for consumers, fills an emotional gap and saves people time and money, then don’t give up after the first few months of your blogging. It does feel that no one is listening to you, but you are always closer to success than you think you are and if you give up now the race is lost.

For myself one thing is for certain regardless of the ‘shitshow’ that is 2020 and the fact that I had 1 years living money, no room for error, and only had the blind faith to continue when all common sense told me to go back home, get a job and stop putting your family through such turmoil.

I was determined to see it through, maybe entrepreneurs are masochists and love the pain of going cap in hand to almost everyone you know to survive, I am starting to see after 13 years of a real scary roller coaster ride with nothing holding the car to the ride’s structure, I can see some light at the end of the tunnel and what a glorious light that is. It is so worth it.

time+effort =success…you hope!

Maybe, you have something that you know can itch that currently unreachable spot and you just need to get it online, we can help, and maybe you are at the age I am and can use some of your pension pot now to make yourself a small fortune to re-invest , now you have learned the fundamentals of wealth and do much better than your current pension provider.  Or maybe you want a better yield for the pension you already have.

Then drop our experts a message with what kind of pension you have, and we maybe can help you get you find your living money whilst you get your online business running.

20 Oct

Rich Expat V Poor Expat

Whenever you read blogs about expats in Thailand you either relate or you do not, there is very little middle ground. Here is a day in the life of both the rich expat and the poor expat.

Tristan wakes at 0645 and gets straight into the shower, Felicity rolls over in bed and moans to Tristan to be quiet as she has an hour extra in bed.  Felicity wakes at 0800 and gets ready for her job at the UN where she is a liaison officer and case worker for rescued woman. The Three children have a bedroom each in their house in the suburbs and have their own pool where they are currently splashing about as their parents are getting ready for work. Their Nanny comes along and ushers them to get out of the pool and get ready for school.

A year ago, Felicity and Tristan were living in New York City with their 3 children and Tristan was offered the expatriate position as a Financial consultant of the Blue Chip company in Bangkok salary 180,000 THB per month with a very generous Tax break of less than 20% of what he was paying in the U.S. and Felicity asked a few friends from their Masonic Lodge to help her land the role rescuing sex workers in Thailand who do not want rescuing and she is on 130,000 THB  a month as an NGO.

Both their roles come with all necessary work permits with visas, the apartment in the plush area of the city, International schooling paid for by the company.  A Driver is waiting downstairs to drive Tristan to the city centre office. Felicity however roughs it and get the Sky-train with the ‘natives.’

Mr and missus middle class Stockphoto

Trevor wakes up and switches off the fan in his studio Condo and looks out the window on the second floor at the sprawling confusion that is Bangkok, and still wonders why he loves it so. He gets a cold shower and wonders if he should bother the landlady downstairs again to put in hot water, after he switches on his laptop and sighs at the state of the strong baht and the lack of business in 2020. Trevor works online and sells T shirts across the world.

Trevor first came to Thailand in 2010 on a few holidays and fell in love with the charming people, the weather, the food and the cost of living, so eventually after meeting Ploy an attractive Thai lady who is 20 years younger who now lives with him, he decided to make the move and become an expat in Thailand.

Trevor is a Plumber by trade, he is 48 years old and Thai Visa regulations are a continual stress on him. It would have been a lot easier if he did not have a son with Ploy just recently. Ploy is besotted with her handsome half Thai; half English son. She cares not that Trevor more than often struggles to make the 8,000 THB rent each month as sales from his T shirts online is his only income, as he cannot work as a plumber in Thailand. Ploy, forever a doting partner, sees the stress on his face and tries her best to relax him and care for him the best way she knows how.

Could be Trevor or the one on the left!

Trevor can get a retirement visa at 50 years old , but wonders whether the Thai authorities would consider his website and overseas sales of T Shirts as technically ‘working in Thailand’ he is on a 60 day tourist visa which clearly states you can not work on a Tourist visa or a Retirement visa.

He can get a Married Visa but he has to visit the UK where he is from at least once a year to see some clients and his T Shirt manufacturer, so a married visa is not always the best option for him. He wishes the Government would offer him a way to work online which would give him visa security which isn’t depending on buying an apartment for 10 mill baht first.

Tristan met Felicity through a family friend at Yale University when they were new graduates and their romance blossomed. Tristan and Felicity’s folks are part of the golf Club and are both lawyers. Their married life resembled their parent’s lives a lot, but this is what they both welcomed. A house in the Suburbs, a thriving portfolio and when they were offered the chance to work in Bangkok, they welcomed the chance to work abroad and ‘see the world.’

Trevor met Ploy at a bar on Sukhumvit Road in the red-light area of the city and was smitten by her dark and long beautiful hair, slim figure and her simple life back home on the farm in the North East of Thailand where she had previously worked for less than 200 baht a day planting rice and working on building sites in the searing heat.

Ploy found Trevor very sweet and attentive, she told Trevor of an abusive ex husband who was constantly with other woman, used prostitutes a lot, never let her have friends and raised his hand to her on many an occasion. Ploy even had the indignation of having to pay for the divorce, so Trevor’s kind and understanding nature was a world away from what she is used to.

Trevor has travelled on the train to her Farm to meet her parents and lived in one room ramshackle barn house and washed each day in a bucket of cold water outside the house next to the chickens and the pigs and looked at the beautiful mountains that surround Ploys farm and he felt good to be the explorer. And see the world from the base cultural aspect.

Tristan and felicity have seen the temples in Bangkok on a guided tour, and seem quite satisfied they have seen the culture, they have been to Phuket once, they flew in and then were taxied from the airport straight to the Sofitel resort and stayed there on the beach that is part of their resort. They went to some of the exclusive restaurants in the city whilst they were there.

Trevor and Ploy love street food like noodle soup or many of the standard rice dishes for 50 baht along with a 20 Baht coke. Ploy is a good cook and buys veg from the markets and cooks a good rice dish most days on the small balcony in their condo.

Tristan and Felicity meet each night after work at the local Irish bar in town and enjoy a western Bourbon or a pint of Guinness along with a dish they are familiar with like Steak and Fish or a western prepared Thai meal. They think 3-5000 Baht is an average bill for a meal.

At the end of the 2-year posting Tristan and Felicity are excited and happy to return home to the US to see family and get back to the Golf and friends. They have many photographs at the temples and the beach at the Hotel and the Irish bar. And have saved a lot of money which can be added to the extensive portfolio.

Trevor however is in a depressed state at the Airport, he had to borrow the money from his brother for the flight and has left just enough cash for a few weeks for Ploy and his son. He is in a bit of a panic because his  Visa has expired and he is a month or so overstay and faces and maybe fine and a small ban from entering Thailand again,  and now has to say goodbye to his son he adores and his wife he loves dearly and must now try to get a visa for Ploy to visit the UK which will be very tricky for him as he does not receive a regular income from his website.

Trevor has worn out 2 phones with so many photographs of all the cities and towns he and Ploy went to see together on the buses, boats and trains where he met the wonderful farming folk and the farm animals he has grown to love and care for. His portfolio is his memories, but he also he berates himself for the state he is in financially, if he could have saved more his heart would not be breaking as they call for the final boarders to get on the plane.

There was a television program that aired in the UK which really peaked my interest; it documented over time; 2 classes of school children in UK in the 1960’s both with equal number of girls and boys between 6-7 years old. And asked the children what they wanted to be when they were older.

One school was in a very deprived area were predominantly working class, and the other school was at the other end of the not so blatant UK Class system where the parents of the school children were all upper middle class.

They then revisited those same children 20 years later in the 1980’s. it was an experiment in the types of work and opportunities that were open for both sets of children. What they found was although the education they received was of a reasonable equal standard and the child who excelled the most through their academic studies was actually in the poorer set, the children from the more wealthier backgrounds mostly had good steady skilled jobs, lawyers, accountants , doctors and engineers, The poorer set mostly were train drivers, car mechanics and shop workers.

My takeaway from the television documentary is that you are not wholly bound to your upbringing, but if you are happy and live within your happy bubble there will be little pull for you to become more.

So, my blog is not an attack on either my fictional types of expats, it is just merely an observation from my own quarters about certain expats I have met and the types of lives they live in my 20 years living here.

You can become what you want to be if you are prepared to enter the not so comfort zone and challenge the normal.

One thing the rich do is have more of an eye on the future, their parents drum it into them, whereas poorer people tend to live more for today. Wealthy people understand the laws of money as in save ten percent of all you earn and use your savings to make money work for itself and compound its own interest and to spend ten percent on yourself frivolously, these are the first two main rules of finance you need to master, and it makes no difference what background you hail from.

If you find yourself more in the corner of Trevor than Tristan, then perhaps you always berate yourself for having little liquid cash. Well if you have a QROPS pension you can do yourself a favour and cash some in and use that to make more cash through many alternative ways, and put the rest of your  your pension into a more tax efficient jurisdiction and maybe you can start to have a Guinness in the Irish bar instead of coke on the road!

For free advice on pension cash-ins and moving your QROPS to a better more tax efficient jurisdiction drop us a message

JERSEY QROPS 3 Oct

Why Jersey for QROPS?

If you have a pension in a QROPS and you are wondering what all the talk about Jersey is about then read on….

Jersey enjoys its standing as one of the world’s leading International Finance Centres offering reliability, political and economic stability, with a sophisticated and comprehensive infrastructure of laws which have kept Jersey at the forefront of global finance for over 50 years. The Island has a AA+ credit rating with Standard & Poor’s (S&P).

The Island is a Crown Dependency which means constitutional rights of self-government for this jurisdiction, and judicial independence. This means both businesses and investors can enjoy the benefits of an independent international finance centre which is close to the United Kingdom and mainland Europe. Jersey is in the same time zone as London and daily flights are available along with regular flights to other European centres. Jersey remains one of the favourite regulated international finance centres, a position that has been regarded by independent assessments from some of the world’s leading bodies.

So why move your pension pot to Jersey?

QROPS Pension is written under a deed of trust subject to Jersey law and is available to both Jersey resident and non-resident members.

 It has tax approval from the Jersey Income Tax regulatory body and is recognised by HMRC as a QROPS. Background With effect from 1st January 2015 amended legislation enables Jersey QROPS as an option to pension investors living off the island. For many years the Island has had many QROPS pension schemes recognised by HMRC however local law restricted these only to Jersey resident individuals. The revised Income Tax (Jersey) Law permits non-resident pension members to transfer their UK tax-relieved pension funds into the jurisdiction, offering a secure environment to protect your client’s pension assets.

One of the biggest draws of a Qualified Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) is the ability to withdraw money in a more flexible and convenient way. For example, from the age of 55, you have the right to withdraw a tax-free lump sum of up to 30% of your total pot. You are under no obligation to have the QROPS based in the same country in which you are resident, allowing you to find the combination that works best for you, wherever in the world you are.

However, before you sign on the dotted line, you need to be fully aware of the QROPS withdrawal rules.

What Are the QROPS Withdrawal Rules?

As we’ve mentioned, you can withdraw a 30% tax-free lump sum from your QROPS once you’ve turned 55. This initial lump sum is known as the Pension Commencement Lump Sum (PCLS). If you are a high earner and would normally expect to pay up to 45% in income tax, the QROPS removes that tax requirement after 5 years. Also known as the Five Years Rule.

When you come to withdraw money from your QROPS, whether it’s the lump sum or a smaller payment, you have greater control of the currency. Unlike a UK pension fund which can only dispense British Pound, a QROPS can be used to withdraw money in a wide range of currencies. This is ideal for making the most of any favourable exchange rate.

Long life V quality of life

There is a fine balance between living longer and living healthier. Sure, many say we are living longer now, however if that means stuck in your home or a care home for the last ten years of your life is that a life at all?

If you have many grandchildren who visit often then maybe, this is a consideration that many must make when it comes to cashing in some of your QROPS pension pot. It is a fine balance with length of life versus quality of life. If you are relying purely on your state pension heed this advice:

Fewer than one in three Brits is confident we will get a state pension from the Government when we retire. 

You currently need 35 years of National Insurance contribution credits to collect the new state pension of £8,767.20 a year. This extra income would cost £300,000 to buy as an annuity.

But the state pension age not long ago shifted to 66 for both men and women and will rise again to 68 between 2044 and 2046. This comes after woman born in the 1950’s are now made to wait to collect their state pensions when the age at which they were eligible was changed from 60 to 65. 

A think-tank the Centre for Social Justice has also controversially suggested the state pension age should eventually rise to 75 to take into consideration the nation’s improving health.

Experts have even predicted that the state pension could one day be means-tested.

Recent analysis from investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown has found most of us are not holding out any hope for retirement backed by government.

A poll found only 28 per cent of under-35s and 35 per cent of those aged 35 to 54 think the state pension will still be around when they retire.

Even 23 per cent of over-55s were not sure it would be around when they hit retirement.

If you are like me and many others it seems, you feel the UK Government is trying hard to give us all a big hint that we cannot afford to keep up state pension payments in the UK as more and more of us are living longer and not necessarily better.

The UK daytime TV is full of Television shows that are about how to make money from antiques, how to make money from property, how to invest in penny stocks and day trading, I think the hint is:

Find out now how to look after yourself cos we the government cannot!

Trash in the Attic find your own ruddy pension!

Perhaps like me you feel you could probably do better with the cash right now, maybe you know of a property you could buy for buttons and refurbish and sell for a profit. many are doing this right now, perhaps you could use a lump sum towards a startup invention you know will corner the market, or perhaps you have found a place in the world to buy gems at an amazing price where people will pay a lot more for. Or perhaps you have found oil in your garden and you need some cash to get a pump and sell to shell!?

Cash is always king and liquidity rules, ask anyone in any kind of business how much liquidity plays a part in everything they do!

QROPS encashment.

If you are in Thailand now and by switching the jurisdiction (Trustees) of your QROPS to Jersey you can enjoy much better tax options than other European jurisdictions.

**Please note the above table is for Thailand resident Expats as there are different QROPs rules through DTA’s (Double Tax Agreements) for Expats in other countries that have arrangements in place with QROPs based in the IOM and Malta**

Request a free introduction to a pension specialist

If you have funds invested into a QROPS or have some questions about QROPS which you don’t feel have been answered, or you have not seen your advisor for some time, you can request a free introduction to a trusted independent financial advisor through our website

Needless to say; you will not be pressured into making any decision, neither will you be under any obligation to proceed with any advice. Could be the best cup of coffee and free advice you ever had!

thai girl date 28 Sep

3 Biggest Mistakes expats always make

Wherever you are in the world, if you are a long term expat, you often sit at your favourite haunt and watch the newbies making the same mistakes over and over again whilst you laugh to yourself, however there is a small part of you that thinks how exciting the world was back when you first arrived and finding your feet in your new homeland.

Here are 3 things experienced expats will be glad to tell you and help you avoid making your own mistakes if you can stomach their old man moaning for just an hour.

Getting a Job

People step off the plane with a couple of wonderful holidays under their belt aiming now to live in the land of smiles, and just get a job, and seem to feel that the ‘holiday experience’ will continue, spending 100 bucks a day on food, alcohol and whatever sexual pleasures that came with your 2 week vacations. 

You are labouring under the misapprehension you can get a 2,000-5,000 USD a month from job here in Thailand as a construction worker, or an accountant, lawyer etc. Nope, read the fine print! You cannot work in Thailand in a profession that a Thai person can do, which is ethical really.

In your home country you are quick enough to complain, as is your right to do so, about people stealing jobs from the people that lived there all their lives.

Maybe I can open a soup stall??

It is not impossible to land a well-paid skilled job, but the laws are still pretty much unchanged over the last 20 years. Okay, one foreigner in a company, but you must employ 3 other Thai people to offset your work permit or look into a BOI company, whoops their goes all your night out money!

Then you have to try get your visa to coincide with your work permit or you will find yourself every month or so cramped up on a visa minibus all night with some 20 year old Philippine English teachers going to do regular border runs to stamp your visa out and back in again a good waste of 2-3 days of your life!

The people you do meet with good jobs here are the ones who have worked really hard at one company for many years and have been offered a position from their own home country. These are what I have always determined as ‘real expats’ who think nothing of spending an English teachers monthly salary on a couple of dinners in the top restaurants. The others will be mainly Hotel Managers who get moved along to new spots every few years.

Lesson one; don’t think you can get a job in Thailand easily, unless you want to be an English teacher earning around 35,000 THB a month.

Falling in Love

Tricky one this; who is to say what is right when it comes to affairs of the heart, one man’s misery is another man’s comfort right? Easy to judge and assume that the twenty something girl on the 70 something man’s arm is reprehensible. However maybe she comes from a world where young woman are beaten by young men, and found herself with no friends, a child or two and no support and within the arms of this older man she found safety, peace and support.

The only advice I would give is; to try your very best to immerse yourself in the culture, understanding is a two way street. Yes your Thai partner needs you to take care of the people back in their village which means regular payments back home, which is alien to the way most Westerners live. On the other hand the care homes we send our old folks to in the West, are just horrible to Asian ways, and their elderly live with them till the end of days. If you ask older people from all ends of the Earth and I would think that will be what the vast majority want which is to die with all your children and grandchildren near them. In Southeast Asia that is the norm.

So when it feels like you are a never ending ATM try to envisage how they will feed you are care for you till the end of your days the very best they can.

Many things are a culture shock and it’s your ‘love’ that will get you over these hurdles,

Love as they say is just 2 imperfect people trying to be the best they can for one another.

Of Course I miss you evelee day handsome sucker!

Your average expat has heard all the stories about how some Thai woman has stolen a newish expat’s house, car and dog, (Yes Siree, like a good Country and Western song!) but in my experience these types of men had similar problems with partners in the West, not to say there isn’t mercenary people anywhere. Try to remember the least experience you have of the culture the more vulnerable you will be to being scammed.

Chief takeaway is make  some Thai friends, listen, more, learn and try above all to remember different cultures mean different values , some good , some not so good.

Just because some young slim and very attractive much younger lady has told you she loves you and that you are in fact handsome, should be taken with a pinch of salt and some humility

Small fortune

There is a saying amongst experience expats that says:

“How do you make a small fortune in Thailand? Answer: Come with a big one!

Moving to the other side of the world is always going to be costly, even if you feel your money goes a lot further here. It all depends on what you consider is a comfortable standard of living.

I have a wealthy friend for UK who could easily afford business class flights and the top Hotels, however he always flies economy and always stays in a rundown Khao San Road Hotel for less than $10 a night. He believes this is how he stays wealthy and not waste his money. I however think that one day he will die wondering what it might have been like to splash out once in a while and have the memory forever.

As George Best the first Millionaire footballer who once replied to being asked what he spent his money on:

“I blew it on beer and woman, the rest I wasted!”

All too many new expats rush into buying this condo or house and opening a business, or worst still opening a bar! The smarter people I met who opened a bar explained to me that they never expected to make any money on it, the ‘bar life’ was just a way to get a visa to stay, and they knew it would either be sold in a year or two down the line so they can move on, or it will just have enough life for a couple of years before it sold for buttons to make a coffee shop..

The new expats dream of franchising their brand around the world, much to the fun of the experienced folk and the local copper who sits everyday listens to their ambitions just for his regular tea money!

I can include myself in this equation I had 2 houses in UK in 2005 I sold them both , at the peak of the house prices in my area I may add to soften the blow for my misadventure. I bought a condo in Hua Hin and sat idly for 2 years wondering what to do, I did ever so enjoy myself. However if I knew what I know now. I would have invested some time in myself to learn some online skills and get a website up or do some ecommerce or learn about investing and life would have been a lot easier for me but I took the road called ‘learn the hard way sucker!’

I had to sell my beach condo 2 years later, I made a bit on it but that cash lasted me another year and a half and I was then broke, unable to work in the country unless I wanted to teach English as a foreign language. Over the next 15 years went back home to work a few times, now I have a good online  startup and good clients  am still here and okay now, but as my older brother once said;

“You have got to have big balls to live like how you did bro!”

rather be broke on the beach than broke at home

 My Brother had one job all his life and never ever late to pay anyone or anything. The true opposite to me. He sadly died in UK 53 years old hardly travelling anywhere!

Getting good financial advice would be the main takeaway here, and recently I did, all it cost me was a coffee and I have now found ways to get my own investment for my startup through old pensions I forgot I had, this and moving some money to better jurisdictions for better returns and that I could cash some or all of the pensions.

You could be in for a big cash surprise if you just sit and chat with people in the know. 

Ready for a coffee? Contact us here

Remember 2 ears one mouth, makes sure your wealth does not go south!

QROPS CASH IN 29 Jan

QROPS For Life

Thousands of expatriates took out QROPS (Qualified Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes) and moved their UK long term pension pots to more cash yielding jurisdiction. However many now find their advisors have left or are not in touch as much as they promised. This has affected many expats in Southeast Asia especially those who have QROPS Thailand, and we are there to help you fill that gap with knowledge, so you can make the best decision for you.

We can help you see how to get more from your QROPS pension by understanding new jurisdictions and management fees.

If you are 55 or older you can now get access top some or all of your pot through a QROPS cash in, of course you need good advice before you make any decisions, so we try to help you here. Get in touch for free impartial advice today