Jason Porter, the Business Development Director for international tax and wealth management specialists Blevins Frank, provides us with some top tips which will help those of you looking to move to Europe start to plan your financial future.
- Only deal with financial firms who are reputable, have local registered offices, and are English speaking with English language documentation. Several UK financial planning firms “passport” their services into other countries. Visit their offices, check them out, and ask friends and neighbours of any experiences. The rest of Europe is not quite so hot on qualifications and authorisation as the UK, so be very wary of the ‘out of the boot of a car’ adviser.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Most people happily live by this maxim in the UK, but on moving overseas seem to put their common sense in a box in long-term storage until they come back. But, it is even more important overseas, where there are so many horror stories of investments gone wrong and life savings lost.
- Never sign anything until you have received all advice in writing, in English – but be prepared to pay for it. Cross-border tax and financial expertise is not cheap, but will likely save you a lot more in the long run.
- It is never too early to get a good understanding of your new countries tax and financial regime. It might be beneficial to adjust your assets before you leave the UK, or to put something in place as soon as possible after moving. You might miss out if you leave your education until you arrive.
- The days of living in Europe without declaring all of your worldwide assets and income are long gone. International automatic exchange of financial information means your local tax authorities will eventually catch up with you. And do not think you will have moved on before this happens. Many European countries are far ahead of the UK, in terms of IT.
- Be aware that investments like ISAs, Venture Capital Trusts and Enterprise Investment Schemes do not have the same tax-saving benefits overseas as they do in the UK, and it is likely they will be taxed much like any other investment. You will need to consider adjusting your investment holdings and structures to what might be tax efficient in your new jurisdiction.
- Investment holding vehicles like insurance bonds offer significant tax-saving benefits in the UK. Variations of the same exist all over Europe, but where the benefits in each country differ, but could include income tax, inheritance tax and wealth tax savings. Make sure you learn about these ideas and take the correct advice before adjusting your investments in your new country.
Blevins Frank offer tax and financial planning expertise for Brits looking at retiring overseas to either France, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus or Malta. For more information, visit: www.blevinsfranks.com