Category: Expatriate Finance

Blogs about expatriate finance and qrops news pension pots overseas and managing personal finance when working overseas

property portfoilio for pensions 4 Dec

Property and your portfolio

Is property an asset?

This is a difficult question for younger people as they have a lot of emotion surrounding property and emotion is a liability when it comes to investing and looking after your finances. It is most definitely an emotional asset especially when you need your own space and to get away from your parents’ nest, or you have been homeless, or sick of paying rent. We all remember the lecture from our folks about using their home like a Hotel. It can be very exciting to start on the property ladder and have your own space at the same time.

Property Developers on the other hand have little emotion, they can buy up a large semi in London and the history is meaningless to them as they rip it out and get as many people in on many floors and get as much rent from Multiple Home Occupancy as they can. Turning a property and getting it occupied around in months.

A house unquestionably meets that definition. A financial statement will list a house in the “asset” column. If there is a mortgage on the property, it will appear in the “liability” column. The difference between the asset value and the loan (liability) is the equity

Robert Kiyosaki

“One of the weakest performers [is] your own personal real estate, because it doesn’t provide much income,”

“It’s an inflation hedge. You do a little better than inflation, and you can have your own home, so there’s a psychological, emotional benefit.”

Instead, millennials in a position to buy property should be considering how to do so in a way that will provide them additional cash flow, If you can own real estate, real estate with an income is the one [form of] real estate that’s more valuable,”

Tony Robbins.

The rule of thumb is property doubles in price (very) roughly every ten years, if you are prepared to pay your mortgage for that time and live in your property then it becomes an asset.

Property Ladder

First-time buyers’ dreams of home ownership are hanging by a thread after a clampdown by banks and building societies.

However, it is getting harder and harder for younger people to buy their first home.

  • More lenders ending mortgage offers for borrowers with 5% and 10% deposits
  • This has left many young buyers ‘effectively barred’ from the housing market
  • Experts predict first-time buyer sales may plummet 25% because of pandemic
  • Many first-time buyers were hoping to snap up a bargain with lock down easing 
  • Broker sees 212% increase in first-time buyer inquiries between April and May 
  • Economists are predicting a 4% fall in house prices this year

A rapidly rising number of lenders have ended mortgage offers for borrowers with 5 per cent and 10 per cent deposits. 

THE average deposit for a first-time buyer has risen by a quarter to almost £50,000 – fueling fears that some struggling families will never be able to buy a home of their own.

Savers not only need more cash due to soaring house prices, but loans for smaller deposits have almost disappeared in recent months.

The move has left many young buyers ‘effectively barred’ from the housing market, with some

The average deposit for a first-time buy is £47,059 — up from £37,761 in a decade.

Yorkshire Building Society found that savers trying to build up a 15 per cent deposit face waiting ten years or more in the south of England, based on typical monthly savings figures.

Experts predicting a 25 per cent fall in first-time buyer sales because of the pandemic.

Earlier this week, we revealed how a mortgage crunch had seen the number of small deposit mortgages on offer dive by more than they did in the first year of the financial crisis.

‘Effectively barred’: Many first-time buyers had been hoping to snap up a bargain now sales can go ahead again, but without a large deposit they may struggle to get a mortgage.

The bad news for first-time buyers comes as many had hoped to snap up a bargain now lock down is easing, and sales can go ahead again. 

Mortgage broker Trussle reported a 212 per cent increase in first-time buyer inquiries between April and May.

But concerns over falling property prices have left banks reluctant to lend to borrowers with less than a 15 per cent deposit, for fear they could end up in negative equity, where the owner owes more money than their house is worth.

Be prepared to be realistic

Buying your first property can be a really exciting time but it’s crucial that you remain level-headed and realistic at every step of the process. That can mean compromising on location or simply being patient about the amount of time buying a property takes – it can be months between putting in an offer and finally having the keys in your hand.

You also need to look long term and be realistic about the ongoing costs of owning your property. Will you be able to afford repayments if the interest rate rises? Have you budgeted for utility bills and upkeep and maintenance on your property? Having a survey done can be an expense some first time buyers are tempted to skip but getting a heads-up on potential issues can help you keep a clear head when making an offer.

Some economists are predicting a 4 per cent fall in house prices t in 2020 the largest decline in more than a decade. Estate agent Savills says prices will fall 7.5 per cent.

Overall property is still an asset if you see it as one, as long you are prepared to ride out the negative equity of the first decade and make it your home as well, then you should feel quite proud of yourself as you are starting to understand the basics of finance.

Property Portfolio

Fast forward 10-15 years (we did say ‘profitable Investing’ is a study of time!)  and now you have some good equity in your home, don’t just sit back now and spend the savings you are making on your mortgage payments especially if they are fixed from the day you moved in. Start looking at ways to buy more property or move to a bigger house and rent out your starter home to other starters.

Real estate has a low correlation to stocks and bonds. Because it’s a lagging economic indicator — it rises and falls well after the rest of the economy — it moves differently than stocks or bonds. What’s more, real estate markets are unique. The factors that can sink home prices in one market can have no bearing on another, though not always.

I sold mine in 2005 lucky me eh!

Property Experts forecast house prices in the UK will grow 15% over the next 4 years. They support their outlook with a forecasted 68% rise in GDP, 6.9% rise in household disposable income and a 2.7% increase in employment.

The fears over the end of globalism and reduced trade are easing. Once Covid 19 is beaten, the world will enter a period of euphoria and optimism which should fuel spending. That new spending could fuel more home construction in the UK. As you can see, housing construction is brisk again.

Most sophisticated investors recommend a 5 percent to 10 percent allocation over your overall portfolio.

Many good financial advisors have managed savings plans that have property investment inside their plans, and the best one can give you digital control to make changes to your portfolio by choosing what percentages of what asset class you want to buy or sell, giving you good control all managed by established investment experts who you can mirror and trade what they are doing, and learning along the way.

Grab a coffee with our experts and see how you can customise your finances and be a integral part as much as you want.

Yes get the coffee ready I want to learn more:

Residual income lifestyle 23 Nov

Why you must understand residual income before you can gain wealth.

Most wealthy people have a residual income. They understand what it means.

What Is Residual Income?

 ‘Money that comes to you regularly whether you work or not’

Or as Investopedia says in a very long drawn out explanation:

“Residual income is income that one continues to receive after the completion of the income-producing work. Examples of residual income include royalties, rental/real estate income, interest and dividend income, and income from the ongoing sale of consumer goods (such as music, digital art, or books), among others. In corporate finance, residual income can be used as a measure of corporate performance, whereby a company’s management team evaluates the income generated after paying all relevant costs of capital. Alternatively, in personal finance, residual income can be defined as either the income received after substantially all the work has been completed, or as the income left over after paying all personal debts and obligations.”

To start receiving residual income one must Invest in thyself!

To become wealthy from nothing is not so much about luck but about knowledge, knowledge costs time and effort, and getting out of your comfort zone to make some positive changes to your life. So how can you go from zero to hero in the financial world.?

 First you must use some effort to start reading and read more to educate yourself, almost everyone on Earth has access to some books or an internet café somewhere, so that is no excuse, also don’t be shy, find wealthy people to ask for advice, believe it or not wealthy people actually love being asked for advice and will give it freely over the price of a coffee!

Wealth starts when you invest in your knowledge

Some guys have all the Luck (Labouring Under Correct Knowledge)

Wealthy people are not in the main lucky, they were just taught by wealthy people and or learned everything the hard way by making what they thought were original mistakes or as we entrepreneurs call it ‘life learning’ to get the experience that is needed to become financially sound.

Before you become wealthy, you really must define what is wealth and what it means to you. I have met some people working in bakeries and pubs serving customers all day who are wealthy, because they have found what made them happy, it is never for us to judge what makes our fellow beings happy!

 So, ask yourself what makes you happy, and what do you have to do to find that bliss, life is short start today!

Time and money.

There seems to be two kinds of people I have met:

One is the corporate slave, he has what most would deem ‘the lifestyle.’ The house the car, the holidays, kids at good schools with a bright future, robust medical, all the things that society has taught you will make you happy!

But underneath all this Corporate slave is miserable, he knows that one wrong word to the boss can take all this away and leave him with very little and at his age he would struggle to get anywhere near what he has now, the bank would be completely callous if his monthly payment stopped and the bills piled up.

Corporate slave is cash rich and time poor!

The second stereotype I have met is:

The hapless dreamer or the ‘Beach Bum’, who wakes up each day with the beach lapping at his door and the sweet song of the birds, no boss to answer to and tells himself the freedom is worth it. However, he lives in a dilapidated old camper Van, and wonders where the next meal is coming from, and dreams about winning the lotto or how his latest online scheme will make him rich overnight and get his wife back and the kids will adore him again. He is always waiting for the perfect wave.

Beach Bum is time rich and cash poor!

What is real wealth? To me is to have enough money and the time to spend it.

One way the rich find their wealth is understanding what residual earnings or recurring payments is. 2 basic ways to gain residual income are:

Becoming a Zombie property Investor.

The most popular and easily understood is rental income. People invest in property, invest in the repairs and make it habitable again, and then rent it out and receive lease payments each month. Or sell for a tidy profit.

It all looks so easy on the television as so many television shows are dedicated to following people at auctions who buy up derelicts and fix them up and then get a tenant in.

Apocalypse Villa

To me the television shows are not really painting a fair or accurate picture, they are always going to show success stories because they sell better than misery.

I believe behind every successful zombie property investor is someone who over many years bought, lost, cried real tears, went back to work at a job, saved up again, bought, made a bit, hired and fired, lost friends, lost money, good workers and rehired again then started to see some success, and spent time and effort to learn the trade.

It would not surprise me to find that most successful landlords spent much of their life on construction sites learning the basics as apprentices.

Also it seems to me that the investors who now have the time and money have numerous properties in their portfolios not just one or two, so they either start with one that may take a year or so to buy, fix up, advertise and rent out. Then spend 5-10 years repeating the process to get a few good properties behind them and maybe even outsource to a rental payments company to collect rent, make evictions, advertising, and general ongoing maintenance of properties easing the burden on the original investor, so they can start to enjoy time and money!

Equities

Investing in stocks and shares are the very foundations of every pension and savings policy that ever was and ever will be.

Your pension company did not take your cash each month whilst you were working hard and stick it in a bank! You would end up with a few pounds over what you have saved over your lifetime! No, they take your cash and each month invest in stocks, shares and a balanced portfolio of high-risk investments, to low-risk investments over a period between 10-50 years and your savings start to accumulate and interest starts to grow and grow leaving you with much more than your basic capital you saved!

Investment is a study of time like geology, the most successful investors understand that real growth comes from time, not the daily goings on of the markets.

Time and knowledge will see your cash multiply on itself to leave you a lump sum that you can take a percentage of each month to live on when you stop work. That is the very nature of investing. It should be a very boring job like farming because seeds grow so slowly in the beginning and at the end always grow fast.

Investing in stocks over a balanced portfolio over time is a safe as houses, as long as you balance the risk, accept the losses and accept the gains with the same composure.

But again, you must take the time to educate yourself how the stock market works, it is  not so much how every single political decision in every single country effects the prices each day, be like the Omaha Oracle Warren Buffet who confessed he just reads headlines of the financial papers, unless he is really interested in a particular company and always invests in things he likes, simple advice from one of the most wealthiest investors ever!

Over the past 200 years investing in the stock market has made long term investors very good returns, sure you can recite so many burst bubbles where the stock markets plunged disastrously in particular years. But look over the long term and you see constant growth!

Dow Jones – DJIA – 100 Year Historical Chart

Many market depressions over the past 2 centuries cleaned out unsophisticated investors (ordinary people with no financial acumen after fast buck).

one of the most famous was 1929 crash on Wall Street on the American markets which influenced the whole world, history has taught us that greed and over speculation by nonprofessional investors who were mostly to blame for a massive fall.

Come out of the little picture and see the big picture!

I am talking over many years the cash has always grown. Investors dusted themselves off and came back and learned to expect downturns, they are part of growth. Even the stock markets itself learned many lessons over time and brought in many rules to protect the investors.

Just take the last 1000 years of blue-chip stocks as an example:

Point is if you left 100 U.S.D. in the bank over the last 100 years and your left it to your grand kids in your will they would be lucky to have 1000 U.S.D. whereas the Grandad that stuck 100 U.S.D. in the stock markets in 1920 in a reputable company who practiced balanced investing, well his grandchildren would probably not need to be a corporate slaves on the residual income from such a massive inheritance to be able to live on a beach in a really amazing camper van eating oysters and caviar each day, if that’s what made them happy!

To find your happy, have a chat with our safe and profitable financial people who can help you make balanced choices where to put your savings.

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!!)

Thai beach UK Expats 10 Oct

Can you afford to live in Thailand?

Many expatriates live in Southeast Asia for many reasons. One erudite chap I met told me there are always 4 good reasons to move abroad and one of them you won’t like, its just the other three will be the deciding factor to stay. I thought about his strategy and as he had said I found 4 vital reasons why I moved:

1 The sunshine.

No need to explain this to anyone who hails from Northern Europe. I spent hours trying to explain to my Laos wife what Seasonal Affected Disorder was and how it feels to not see the sunshine for weeks on end.

Have you got your coat today?

Saying this however, I regularly meet holiday makers who just complain it’s too hot and struggle to breathe in the climate and find it just too much. Each to their own I suppose. For me I love the chronological regularity of the seasons and you have an excellent idea of what you can expect from the skies each day.

2. The people.

Asian people especially Southeast Asians have a different mindset on many things and if these things go for your own nature then it is a match made in heaven, however many things may abrade your nature, and you will question whether the move is right for you.

They are extremely polite people and that generally works well with British people, annoying so to many others, telling you always what they think you want to hear than the truth, which is awful for directions! 

Southeast Asians are also quite open on many things that Westerners find hard to talk about which makes a delightful change in many circumstances. I will take many years of embarrassment and hard work to create the balance between which is good from your culture and theirs to combine to be happy and to earn your ferlang (name Thais give to Westerners) badge!

3. The food.

This is where I fail out of the four reasons, I hang my head in shame and have struggled with any kind of spices, I feel like starting a Facebook support group called ‘Anti-spice ferlangs’ for those of us who are constantly ridiculed for settling in a country famous for aromatic and wonderful inexpensive but mainly very spicy food.

Would sir like some food with your chilly?

I managed to try many dishes till I found myself a portfolio of 6 or so Thai meals that I can eat, and friends still invite me out. I  have met one Thai lady in 15 years who did not eat spicy food and she was very nice but had few Thai friends, I wonder why?

4. The cost of living.

Expatriates in Thailand have bemoaned about the change in their financial circumstances over the last 20 years where the Thai baht has strengthened to make their western currency half of what it was worth back in 2000, meaning an expat with a state pension from UK now lives on half the value of what they could back in 2000 when the baht was hovering around 80 Baht to the pound. And of course, inflation has not wavered. A small can of coke when I first came in 2003 was 5 baht from 7/11 and is now 20 baht. So, the prices of things have gone up and the value of western currency has gone down. Throw in a Covid virus Pandemic in 2020 and many expats are really feeling down in the dumps at what a truly dire year it is indeed.

However, a direct comparison with living in a suburb in UK to a suburb in Thailand is still good value for money. A good 3-bedroom house with a reasonable sized garden and community pool, in a suburb of a major city in Thailand will cost around 4million baht, currently around 100,000 British Pounds. Whereas a 3-bedroom house in the north west of UK with a decent garden is around 220,000 GBP. Utilities in Thailand will be 30-50% cheaper than UK even using air con 8-12 hours a day.

Renting a 30 square meter unfurnished flat in London will cost you 1500-2500 GBP a month depending on how close you are to the city, and of that size unit they will call a bedsit. There is Council Tax on top of that as well.

4,500 THB a month 10 min walk to BTS trains

You can, if you look around, rent a room fully furnished with air con wi-fi and Cable TV for 5,000 THB -upwards (150 GBP) per month in Bangkok with no extra taxes, with a 10-20-minute air con train ride to the city center for no more than 2 GBP, so commuting is very cost effective in Bangkok. (The above pic was my old room in the Lad Prao suburb of Bangkok back in 2009, it was just built when I moved in, with a ten min walk to train to the centre of Bangkok. Rent was 4,500 THB a month furnished with Air con and hot shower, I have seen them in the same building for 6,000 THB a month now)

Cost of food, which was once the one reason travelers boasted at the value of a meal in Thailand, has slowly crept up in price all over the region. food in UK has got a lot cheaper, but one wanders about the quality of cheap processed food in the UK compared to ‘cooked in front of you’ street food in Bangkok.

A Street meal with a drink costs an average 100 baht (2.50 GBP) compared to a fish and chips meal in UK at around 6-8 GBP. It is apples to oranges comparisons, if you go to an Irish pub in Bangkok and have a couple of pints of Guinness and a steak meal you won’t get much change from 50 quid.

The amount of money one can live on quite comfortably is a very relative issue, if you are royalty then 50,000 THB a month would be impossible, but a young man on his own living in a nice condo in the suburbs could afford his rent and a couple of good nights out a week if he cooks and eats street food most days and could have a steak and Guinness twice a month as well on 50,000 THB (1200 GBP a month) which is roughly the UK average salary after tax and NI, getting a job here with this kind of salary is a another issue, yet here he could have a better life. Families would find it harder as kids will cost you especially if you want an English curriculum in Thailand.

Point is regardless of the currency diving since 2000 halving the average expats spare cash to spend, it is still far better value for money than living in UK and if you like spicy food, massages, the sunshine and smiling people each day, is a warm reminder of why you moved.

I work online and found a way to stay

Everyone has had to contract when it comes to money in 2020, however there is a way you can tap into some spare cash…..If you are over 55 now or wish to ensure that you have FULL access to your UK Private or Company Pension at age 55 (UK Government Pension cannot now be accessed before age 66) or especially a QROPS, you can move the administration to Jersey and access some or all your pension pot tax free, whilst enjoying much better rates of return or managing yourself.

Contact us now for a no obligation free review.

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