Expat Financial Advisors: Your Essential Guide to Expert Support Abroad

Expat Financial Advisors: Your Essential Guide to Expert Support Abroad. To manage your wealth and investments efficiently, seeking the right financial advisor is crucial. Learn about different options, including institutional firms, offshore brokerages, and independent advisors, and discover essential services such as investment management, retirement planning, and insurance selection.

Key Takeaways

  • Navigating the world of finance as an expat can be challenging, making it essential to seek expert support from reliable expat financial advisors who understand the complexities of cross-border living.
  • Expats have multiple options for expat financial advisors, including institutional firms, offshore brokerages, and independent advisors, each offering unique benefits and services.
  • Achieving financial success abroad requires careful planning, including investment management, retirement planning, insurance selection, and estate planning.

Table of Contents

Navigating expat finance and the world of “expat financial advisors” is a challenging task!

As someone living and working abroad, I understand the unique financial concerns that come with cross-border lifestyles and the need for expat financial planning.

That’s why professional help is critical for individuals like yourself to manage your wealth and investments efficiently. The choice of expat financial advisors may seem vast at times, so choose wisely.

Hopefully, we can give you some financial tips on living overseas with some investment strategies for expats from our comprehensive “Expat financial guide”.

Couple being advised what to do

Expat Financial Advisors: What Are Your Options?

Connecting with the right financial adviser/consultant is almost certainly the most crucial decision you will have to make when saving and investing abroad.

If you are an outgoing person who attends events, joins clubs and is active on social media, then you will no doubt be approached on numerous occasions by expat financial advisors who will be more than happy to discuss your options.

If you are a more private person, you will need to seek out one of the numerous expat financial advisors available who are ready to assist you independently.

Typically you will have three choices of expat financial advisors:

  • Institutional Financial Advisers that work for big banks/institutions like HSBCCitibank or AIA
  • Multi-Office offshore financial adviser brokerages
  • Independent office and solo expat financial advisers (IFAs)

Institutional Financial Advisors

Big Banks focus 95% of their attention towards the local market, but they may have an expat sales team that employs expat financial advisors.

The advisors at these companies will only be able to advise you on their in-house product range, which they cannot deviate from. Big banks build their products and will have large sales teams focused on selling to as many policies as possible to build up a vast customer base.

Multi-Office offshore financial brokerages

Brokerages of this nature will employ expat financial advisors who will have the ability to be more independent than the big banks.

Multi-Office brokerages may also have their own products, but they will also be allowed to use bespoke options to help you build a more versatile portfolio. With these companies, you will see more of a blend towards quantity and quality investors. Often, you will find a young, high staff turnover.

Independent Office & Solo IFAs

Small brokerages and solo expat financial advisors usually have complete freedom as to where they can invest on your behalf.

Due to the size of these companies, they will be able to seek out any investment that suits your needs, and every individual can be looked at on a case-by-case basis, which offers good benefits when executed correctly.

The focus here is more on the quality of the client rather than quantity due to only being able to manage a finite amount of people.

Always try and make contact with an owner or Director to ascertain whether the advice you are receiving is in line with the company’s policy.

Expat Financial Advisors: Services Offered

6 anonymous expat financial advisors

Expat Financial Advisors: Be Smart & Avoid the Pitfalls

Many expats are in search of the ideal offshore investment advisor as offshore capital management may appear vastly different from domestic investing when considering factors like tax law, currency fluctuations, and international regulations.

On the whole, the differences are small, limited and easily managed when approached correctly by professionals who are experienced in dealing with these challenges.

It is important to remember that your financial consultant is ‘the professional’. They need to clearly explain the advice, investments, products, risks and structures they are presenting.

The onus lies upon the client to research and check that what they are being told is correct.

Expat financial advisors must have courage behind their convictions. They must have a proven method which they stick to, similar to a doctor or lawyer. The advisor should work with people where both views are aligned. But there should always be room for discussion.

Do not place too much judgment on the personality of the advisor. Focus more on their skills, ethics, experience and track record.

The best salespeople are always the most sociable and easy to get on with, but this doesn’t mean that the advice they are giving is the best available to you.

Some of the most astute and professional advisors I have met are at the other end of the scale.

Do not forget that you are employing someone to do an important job for you. This is not an exercise in making new friends.

Referrals, are they important?

Unless you know the person making the referral, the referral comes from a position of trust, or the referrer is financially knowledgeable and has been using the advisor for many years, then referrals may not deserve the credit they receive.

Also, be aware of people recommending advisors on “Wealth Management for Expats” FaceBook forums.

Often, people are just trying to help friends. A lot of what is written on public forums is not necessarily correct, but it can be a good starting point. If many people are saying good things about certain expat financial advisors, then this might be a good starting point.

Piggy Bank behind "BREAK GLASS IN CASE OF EMERGENCY" the expat. financial advisors first go to for financial planning

Backup Cash

Before you start planning, the first and most important question of expat financial advice should always be, “How much backup cash do you have”?

I always tell my clients to have at least six months of living expenses in cash in a bank. Unforeseen events such as job loss, family emergencies, or natural disasters as there are many financial risks for expatriates that you may not consider.

Relocation financial planning is important when you move abroad and start a new life. Having a backup cash reserve provides peace of mind and reduces financial stress.

Having backup cash on hand allows you to seize unexpected opportunities, such as a promising investment, a business venture, a holiday or a new career anywhere in the world.

Retired couple running on the beach

Retirement Planning for Expats

Planning for the later years of your life is the cornerstone of nearly all financial planning, and regardless of your nationality, your government-backed scheme will always fall short of an ideal retirement.

Many countries have agreements that allow you to contribute from overseas. However, expat pension planning is something you need to address.

Unless you have everything in place, everybody should save regularly towards a private pension.

Choosing the right pension plan, with agreeable terms, charges and affordability, is where you need a good financial adviser to guide you.

Employ a healthy balance between your enjoyment today and your future goals. It is the duty of your expat financial advisor to install this ethos into you and not to over or under-commit you.

Remember, you are employing the services of a professional to help you hit your goals in the most hassle-free manner.

Try calculating all of your monthly living expenses. With the money that is left over, your disposable income, commit 50-60% of this towards a structured savings account and with the remaining 40-50%, put this in a liquid bank that you can access.

If you do not spend this money, invest it at the end of the year.

Being recommended the right products for the right reasons with consistent, high-quality, ongoing attention should see you safely to your retirement.

Please read this here to see what all of your options are.

Children’s Education Planning

The strategy behind Education Planning is similar to Retirement Planning but over a shorter time scale with a smaller amount of capital needing to be grown.

As a parent, ensuring your child’s future is a typical part of family financial planning.

The earlier you start investing, the more time your money has to grow.

Compound interest is a powerful tool that can significantly enhance the return on your investments over time. By investing in your child’s future, you’re not only safeguarding their future but also ensuring you do not have to deal with heafty bills later in life.

The strategy behind Education Planning is similar to Retirement Planning but over a shorter time scale with a smaller amount of capital needing to be grown.

All expat financial advisors should be able to help structure a plan tailored to your specific needs.

Please read this article to help you understand further about the costs involved.

Investment Management & Choice of Investments

When you have established your goals and the correct advisor, this is where expat financial advisors should start making investment recommendations.

Expat Financial Advisors should not be advising on individual stock picking unless they are experts in this field, which is highly unlikely and a profession on its own.

The way you access the stock market is through mutual funds and ETFs.

Your investment portfolio should be based on mutual funds and ETFs. A good benchmark for an index is the S&P 500, which is an index that tracks the growth of the 500 largest companies traded on the American Stock Exchange…Google, Amazon…

Only 1% of mutual funds beat the index by more than 2% annually. There is an argument to only invest in index funds. For many people, index investing is the preferred route, but there are mutual funds that consistently outperform the index. An expat financial advisor should be able to bring you examples of mutual funds that do this.

As a simple rule, do not invest in a fund with less than a 10-year track record, has less than $1 Billion under management and regularly fails to beat the S&P 500, FTSE, MSCI or DAX.

Approach Alternative Investments with absolute caution. Forestry, wine, whiskey, litigation the list goes on in this link, which I implore you to click. 

You can read about the risk of investing in alternative assets here.

Through strategic decisions, risk mitigation, and continuous adjustments, expat financial advisors can guide you to achieve your financial objectives.

Expatriate Banking Solutions

International banking provides an effective way to augment your expat savings and forms the foundation of overseas financial planning.

There are three major categories of international expatriate banks to consider: Global, local and digital.

Please read here for more details.

If you would like to set up an account with Wise, which we strongly recommend, then click this link. As a reward, Wise will allow you to transfer the first $550 completely free.

A selection of German properties

Real Estate

Real estate and overseas property is very complex and can be read about here

Insurance Planning for Expats

This can be a challenging subject, especially when dealing with multiple jurisdictions. Work with expat financial advisors who have experience assisting expats with their needs. They can help you evaluate the various policies that best suit your requirements.

Read our full and comprehensive article on “What is Expat Insurance” here.

Estate Planning for Expats

Estate planning is another critical aspect to consider as an expat.

Proper estate planning can require drafting a Will, Trusts and Power of Attorney. You must pay attention to all of the places you hold assets, where you are currently living, and your nationality.

Some expat financial advisors will not be in a qualified position to help you with this if your situation is complicated and you may need to speak to a specialist. This can be arranged by most expat financial advisors.

Fees and Pricing Models of Expat Financial Advisors

When seeking financial advice, it’s crucial to understand the fees and pricing models associated with expat financial advisors.

When considering fees, it’s important to compare the potential long-term value you’ll receive from expat financial advisors against their costs.

Lower-cost options may be appealing, but you need to weigh up whether they provide the necessary expertise.

London red bus and flags

Expat Financial Advisors: Advice for UK Nationals & UK Pensions

This section is for British expats, non-UK residents and people who have worked in the UK, unfortunately not if you are currently a UK citizen.

As part of your retirement planning, understand the portable retirement planning options involved in transferring your pension savings to suitable retirement accounts. Some of these options include International SIPPs, QROPS, or QNUPS services, which offer tax-efficient and flexible solutions for expatriate pensions.

Most offshore advisors will only know the basics. Hampton Bridge employs in-house expert financial advisors who can help you with these services as we are part of a network of specialists who deal with this daily.

Approach pension transfers with caution! They can offer beneficial IHT advantages and access to your capital, but they do not apply to everyone.

This is a popular topic for British expats. The Financial Times (UK) often writes on this subject and the role that expat financials play, which often leads to questionable advice.


US Nationals MUST not use expat financial advisors and only deal with SEC-regulated financial advice companies who understand the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and US citizenship-based taxation.

As a US expat, you must consider your American pension, Social Security benefits, and any other pensions you may have. Working with a Fiduciary-standard financial advisor can provide you with a tailored service while taking into account any regulatory and tax implications that will apply to US citizens living abroad.

Achieving Financial Goals and Success as an Expat

The first step in your financial journey abroad is to establish clear personal goals, both short and long-term. Create a realistic budget based on income, expenses and saving potential. Make a budget that allows you to live comfortably while setting money aside to achieve financial goals.

Working with the right advisor, giving high-quality financial advice, and helping you choose the investments that provide you with excellent service, regardless of what country you come from, is invaluable.

You are now on the right path.

We hope this article helps you choose a suitable expat financial advisor.

Q&A logo in bubbles

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What services do Expat Financial Advisors provide?

Expat financial consultants understand which investments are correct for your unique situation, whatever country you live in. They offer services such as investment management and retirement planning, helping you with all of your financial decisions.

How to choose a reliable Expat Financial Advisors?

When looking for a reliable expat financial advisor, it’s important to find someone with experience and expertise in dealing with international financial and tax planning. Their financial plan for your situation must be clear and easy to understand.

What are the typical fees of Expat Financial Advisors?

Fees for expat financial consultants can vary widely for their service depending on an individual’s finances. Some charge a flat fee based on the complexity of your financial situation or the investments they provide, while others charge a percentage of the assets they manage on your behalf. You need to work out which will benefit you the best.

We would be delighted to hear from you so feel free to contact us!

Talk to one of our advisors now

Whether you are just starting out with your savings or you are reaching your retirement, we have the tools and experience to help you become successful.