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Expat financial advice: what do you need to consider?

7 mins read
by Lisa-Marie Voneshen
Last updated Wednesday, June 5, 2024

If you live overseas, it can be difficult to navigate your finances effectively compared to those living in the UK. This guide explores the importance of financial advice for expats and how a professional can help.

Expats must understand how to get the most out of their money while living abroad, but this can be difficult. 

This is where a qualified financial adviser can help, whether it’s navigating tax rules or financial planning. 

We explore why expats should get financial advice, how a qualified expert can help, and tips on finding the right one.  

Summary 

  • Expats must navigate their finances while living overseas, which can be tricky. 

  • Whether you’re transferring a pension or estate planning, a financial adviser can help. 

  • However, an adviser must specialise in expat finances to offer the best support. 

  • Unbiased can connect you to a qualified expat financial adviser.  

What is an expat? 

An expatriate, or expat for short, is someone who chooses to work and live in a country where they don’t have citizenship for a long period or permanently. 

An estimated 5.5 million people live permanently outside the UK, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research.  

Expats can choose to renounce their citizenship and become permanent citizens of the country they live in.  

Why expats should consider financial advice 

Financial advice can benefit anyone looking for guidance and support with their money, whether it’s their pension, retirement planning, or buying their own home. 

However, when you’re an expat, it can be more difficult to manage your money as you may have to account for different rules from different countries. 

For example, if you’re transferring a pension from the UK to another country, you must follow certain rules and use a recognised scheme. 

Here are some of the key areas to consider getting help with: 

Tax planning and double tax agreements 

Expats face the risk of double tax from the country they live in and their home country. However, some countries have double tax agreements, meaning you don’t pay tax twice. 

A financial adviser can help and may be able to suggest ways to legally reduce the amount of tax you owe while complying with regulations across two countries.  

They can also help you determine your residency status using the statutory residency test, which can impact your tax liabilities.  

Managing your money 

It’s vital to have a bank account wherever you live and access financial services, which an adviser can assist with.   

It’s also important to consider the impact of currency exchange rates on the value of your money, especially if you’re moving savings from your home country.  

Financial planning 

A financial adviser can help expats manage their savings and investments, whether it’s funds, stocks, or property.  

Estate planning and inheritance tax 

No one likes to think about what will happen when they die, but estate planning can ensure that any wishes are followed. 

As inheritance laws can vary depending on the country you live in and be complex, getting expert advice is important so your loved ones don’t end up with an avoidable tax bill. 

Retirement planning and pensions 

Navigating your pensions and planning for retirement can be confusing, especially if you hold one with another country, as tax rules vary. 

A financial adviser can help you transfer (or consolidate) your pensions, access them in a tax-efficient way, navigate currency and exchange rates, and come up with a retirement plan. 

Moving back to the UK 

If you decide to move back to the UK after living overseas, an adviser can help you plan a smooth transition.  

They can help you move assets tax-efficiently and assess your circumstances so you can still achieve your financial goals wherever you live. 

What services does an expat financial adviser offer? 

An expert adviser specialising in expat finances can offer various vital services. 

This includes, but is not limited to: 

  • Financial planning and strategies: Whether you’re interested in ensuring you’re not paying too much tax, retirement planning, or protecting loved ones with insurance wherever you live, a financial adviser can help. Due to their expertise, they can offer support and advice on your finances, whatever stage you’re at, and revise plans as your circumstances change.  

  • Personalised solutions: Expats face unique challenges, so tailored advice is essential. An adviser will understand the rules in various countries and how they can impact your finances. 

  • Recommending financial products: A financial adviser can recommend the right product, whether it’s a pension fund, annuity, insurance policy, or investment. An independent adviser can recommend products from the whole market, while restricted advisers can only recommend products from certain providers. 

  • Managing money across different currencies: Exchange rates can impact the value of your money, so it’s worth getting financial advice before transferring anything, whether it’s savings or income from your home country.  

  • Investment strategies: An expat financial adviser can help you build an investment strategy while living in your new country and meet your legal obligations. 

Tips on finding the right expat financial adviser 

When seeking a financial adviser, ensure they specialise in expat finances and understand the rules and regulations of the country you currently live in and your home country.  

This includes inheritance tax, setting up a will or trust, property investment, pensions, tax and double tax agreements, and finding a mortgage (if applicable).  

A financial adviser will examine your circumstances and future goals to offer advice appropriate to your needs and help you address any future challenges. 

It’s worth researching to find an adviser who is qualified, transparent about fees, and has experience helping other expats.  

You also need to make sure they’re the right fit for you. Ensure they can cover the areas you need help with and you’re comfortable working with them.  

Before you choose a financial adviser, understand how they’ll charge you for your services, as this can be an hourly fee, a fixed fee or a percentage of your assets if they’re managing an investment portfolio.  

Unbiased can connect you with a qualified financial adviser specialising in expatriate finances.  

What should I consider when looking for an expat financial adviser? 

There’s a lot to consider when seeking an expat financial adviser. 

Here are some questions you should ask: 

  • Does your adviser have cross-border experience? Check if an adviser has experience helping expats and whether they’ve focused on the country you’re living in. If so, they should have a good understanding of your unique challenges and the solutions to recommend. It’s also worth asking if they have any testimonials from clients who have been in a similar situation.

  • Is your adviser qualified? It’s important to check that your chosen adviser is licensed to offer financial advice in the country you live in and has relevant qualifications.  

  • Does your financial adviser understand international regulations? Your chosen financial adviser should have a strong understanding of international financial regulations so you don’t fall foul of global legal requirements. 

  • Are they independent or restricted? Your financial adviser should inform you if they are independent or restricted – the former means they can recommend financial products from the whole of the market, while the latter can only recommend products from certain providers. 

  • Are they good at communicating? It’s easy to overlook the importance of good communication. You need to ensure your adviser can offer support in a clear way and is easy to get in touch with.  

  • Do they work in a large firm? If the adviser works in a large firm, you can have access to a team of specialists if required instead of relying solely on one person. 

How much does an expat financial adviser cost? 

Fees for an expat financial adviser vary depending on what you need help with and their unique charging structure. 

For example, if you have a smaller task, such as consolidating or transferring a pension, this may be charged as a fixed or hourly fee. 

If you need more long-term support, such as wealth management services or investment portfolio management, this will likely be charged as a percentage of the managed assets. 

An expat financial adviser should be clear about their fees before you agree to use them. If you’re unsure about the fees charged, you could meet with another adviser and compare.  

Need help managing your finances overseas?  

Moving abroad, whether temporary or permanent, is stressful. There’s a lot to address, which can have huge implications for your money. 

If you’re considering moving abroad or already live overseas, consider seeking financial advice. 

Unbiased can connect you to a qualified expat financial adviser who can help with your financial obligations and future goals.   

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Author
Lisa-Marie Voneshen
Lisa-Marie Voneshen is a Senior Content Writer at Unbiased. She is an award-winning journalist with nearly a decade of experience writing and editing content across various areas, including personal finance and investing.