Beginning to invest offshore is increasingly looking good for worried South Africans amidst geopolitical turmoil. Depending on your risk appetite investment expectations, it can work for you and need not be an overwhelming or intimidating experience. Here’s what you need to know:
Professional help is essential
Everyone can invest offshore, it’s not only for the Oppenheimers… That being said, you cannot go it alone. Every country has its own nuanced rules and best practices; did you know that succession planning in Mauritius is completely different to here and estates don’t automatically go to spouses, or that there is no capital gains tax in Namibia?
There isn’t just one way of investing offshore
Whilst higher net-worth individuals often use bespoke investment options, average earners can invest offshore in a few different ways. The most common ways are to either invest in a foreign currency unit trust or to go large and hire a portfolio manager, through your bank usually, to set up a personal international brokerage account.
For tax reasons, many higher net-worth investors will set up an offshore trust into which they can deposit money as an investment to earn interest. If you choose this route you need to be aware of tax laws both locally and abroad. There are other options too, so again, speak to a professional advisor before you take the leap.
Relax – you don’t need a foreign bank account
Unless you’ve lived abroad and opened an account while in that country, chances are you don’t have a US or UK bank account. And that’s okay. Things like PayPal and Bitcoin are changing the game with cross-border payments and transaction and, in any case, you don’t need a foreign bank account to earn that offshore capital. You can transfer the money directly from a South African bank account in much the same way as you would transfer money from a local account to another local one.
Investing has never been a ‘one size fits all’ exercise, it’s built on a behaviour that is able to stand firm in shaky markets, is supported by a trusted advisor relationship and finds wealth in diversity.