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1. Identifying investment goals
2. Why DIY investing can cost you
3. Investing resources
4. Get access to more resources
5. Need for professional guidance while investing
6. How to find the right help while investing
7. Cost control in investing
8. Case study of how a UAE-based lawyer lost 11% of his £600,000 investment to hidden commissions
9. Investing black holes
10. What’s the best investment management strategy?
11. What is active investing?
12. What is passive investing?
13. The science behind the common sense in passive investing
14. So, which is the best approach for investing?
15. The future of investing: Dimensional Funds
16. 3 basic principles for successful investing
17. What international investing means
18. Why invest internationally?
19. What’s the difference between offshore and international investing?
20. Why international professionals should consider investing offshore
21. Investing for international professionals
22. How international investing can help you reach your financial potential
23. The 5 main benefits of international investing
24. Best international investment funds
25. How AES can help you
Before you start out on your investment journey, it's important for you to think about what you are looking to achieve.
Identify your investment goals and articulate them, so you can gain clarity around what investment success means to YOU.
There are three aspects to consider: your age, income and lifestyle.
Once you work out what you aim to achieve by investing, you can move on to your next big decision: Do you need a professional to help you with investing or do you have the time and technical expertise to test DIY (do-it-yourself) investing?
If you wish to manage your own investments, here are some resources that could help you. However, DIY investing is not as simple as it might sound.
Independent financial expert DALBAR’s annual analysis of investor behaviour shows that the average DIY investing underperforms the S&P 500 by 4.2% per year for the last 20 years.
There are 5 reasons why DIY investors’ returns fall short:
1. Emotions like ‘fear’ and ‘greed’ drive DIY investor behaviour.
When markets dive, it's natural to want to get out quickly. When they’re rising fast, it’s normal to want to ride that wave. But that means buying high and selling low, the exact opposite of a good investment strategy and it’s exactly what most DIY investors do.
One study that looked at how different investing styles would have fared over any 20-year period, found that the best strategy was to invest your cash as soon as it's available, and then hold what you purchased for the long-term.
That’s precisely what DIY investing fail to do time and time again.
Any Chartered Financial Planner, who can protect you from your own emotions, will more than cover their annual fee via the higher returns you’ll get from staying invested.
2. It’s hard to remain constantly motivated.
The inability to be relentlessly, tirelessly committed to a plan can affect your finances.
As Chartered Financial Planner Stuart Ritchie explains: "I help clients make better decisions about their wealth – and I encourage them to get things done.
“I’m persistent, patient and at times a psychologist!
“But I get results my clients are delighted with. I've yet to see an app or a DIY investing platform that offers any of these literally value-added services!”
When investing, choose an adviser who won't consume your money with hidden commissions, who won’t make decisions in their own best interests to the detriment of yours, and who won’t charge excessive fees.
3. How much do you know about costs and taxes?
Are you an international tax expert?
Have you any idea how much expense ratios and trading commissions are costing you?
Do you know the difference between accumulation and distribution share classes?
Do you know how to invest strategically to cut costs and taxes?
A decent fee-based financial planner can help you with your investing and much more…
And what they save you in taxes and excessive fees will more than cover their annual fee.
Our colleague Stuart saved Kristian 5.73% in fees on just one of his investments. This meant Kristian got great results for the first time in years.
Find out if he could do the same for you with one of these.
4. Balance and diversification
Everyone knows diversification is critical when investing…but did you know that your age and risk tolerance should also influence how you diversify?
How often do you rebalance your investment portfolio?
Have you factored in the holdings of other people in your household too, and how these affect your overall investment mix as a family?
You need to look at the combined investments in all accounts – and know that if your allocation is off, you'll either be taking more risk than you're comfortable with or earning less than you could be.
Paying for professional investment management is worthwhile – because it means pacing the market instead of underperforming it.
5. Time is not on your side
Have you got a job – or plenty to keep you busy if you’re retired?
Perhaps you have family as well, who demand your time and with whom you like to spend time?
For Stuart and his team of Wealth Advice professionals, investing and financial planning is their profession, their passion and their full-time job…
Which is why their clients don’t waste money on commissions and taxes, remain balanced, are diversified and in the market for the long-term.
If you don’t want to underperform, don’t get into DIY investing.
If you want better results, and the peace of mind while investing, make sure you deal with a Chartered Financial Planning company.
And if you want to see if we can cut your fees and increase your portfolio’s performance, get a full diagnostic analysis of your holdings with an X-Ray Review™.
While investing, you require technical expertise and market knowledge to get better results or make informed decisions.
Here are some resources that can help you:
It is common to end up with a collection of investment accounts, but investment management can streamline your financial life by consolidating accounts from different firms under one roof, making it easier to execute a cohesive financial plan that helps you get and keep the life you want.
But what are the signs that you truly need professional help while investing?
Here are a few to watch out for:
If you can relate to two or more of the points mentioned above, it is time to hire a professional to manage your investments so you can focus on the things you love.
Finding the right help while investing is extremely important to ensure you get advice that best suits your individual needs, rather than an adviser's.
Watch this video of Michael Kitces, a well-known authority on the subject, talk about the role of a financial adviser and how it has changed over the years.
You can't control the markets, but you can control how much you’re willing to pay while investing.
As an investor, every dollar you pay for management fees or trading commissions is a dollar less of potential return.
And costs for overseas and international investors like you are often many times higher than back home. Worse, these costs are often concealed - so you don’t find out about their impact until it's too late.
A good financial planner will help you understand ALL the costs related to your investments, and make sure they’re kept low. Watch this short video to learn more.
Ever heard of an investing black hole?
Essentially, your money is sucked in…
And never seen again.
Hawking, Einstein and Newton dedicated their lives to studying and understanding black holes.
This natural phenomenon has such a strong gravitational pull that it sucks up everything in its path.
But these don’t just exist in science.
They’re in financial services too.
Our client, Andrew, is all too familiar with them.
He moved to Dubai from London in 2016.
His company set him, his wife and children up handsomely with relocation, housing, schooling and healthcare costs all paid for.
With more disposable income, he hoped to invest more and possibly retire early to spend time with his family.
Unfortunately, as a busy, high-earner in Dubai, he became an easy target for unsolicited sales calls.
A charismatic financial salesperson contacted him, offering to meet at a nearby coffee shop to chat about his investment options.
Andrew was won over.
He withdrew his £600,000 pension and invested all of it into the offshore bond recommended by the trusted salesperson.
However, his investment hadn’t grown in two years – despite a raging bull market.
Those inflation-beating returns he was promised were nowhere in sight.
With his retirement and family’s financial future on the line, he desperately sought a second opinion.
After scrutinising his investment, the results were shocking.
Andrew is a clever man.
But he unknowingly agreed to a 10-year lock-in period, paid his ‘adviser’ an initial 7% product commission and 4% on the underlying investments…
An eye-watering 11% (£66,000) disappeared into the abyss on the day he transferred his money.
But this was only the tip of the priceberg for him.
He was charged:
It gets worse.
If Andrew withdrew his funds within the initial charging period of 10 years, exit penalties would apply.
It was clear, the damage was done.
The 5 stages of grief followed.
And eventually acceptance.
But, truth be told, the damage wasn’t irreparable.
The Middle East is littered with similar stories caused by a financial services industry that’s systemically broken.
While he couldn’t make up contractual losses, he could move on.
The journey would be difficult.
It would begin with a simple chat about him and his life, not about money…
Cases like Andrew’s often start with an unsolicited phone call from a ‘financial expert’.
They lure you in with lofty promises of free advice or high growth, and dangle current uncertain events at you.
But like doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc.; professional financial planners (fiduciaries) never cold call.
They’ll wait to hear from you first, because everything should begin and end with you.
They’ll listen intently to your goals and recommend a strategy you’re comfortable with. They'll provide clarity on why it works for you and give you the confidence to believe in it, and leave it alone.
This is the secret formula to a successful investment experience.
Confusion abounds this question because the 'industry' says one thing, but the evidence says another.
The truth is, there are only two choices. One works and one doesn’t…
So, don’t be baffled by the range of investment funds and managers, or the number of financial advisers or even commodities in the world when you begin your investment journey.
Just choose between passive and active. One works and one doesn’t…
Investing in a product or solution that is actively managed means your money being looked after by a fund manager, who will:
Active managers buy when they think they can outperform the market, and sell when they think their holdings are overvalued.
As an investor choosing an actively managed approach, you pay for everything – from the fund manager’s wages to their high dealing costs.
You pay out of the profit they make for you – unless of course they don’t make you any profit.
In which case you still pay, but the money is taken out of your invested capital.
Active investing has very low odds of success.
Over the long-term, 97.8% of actively managed global equity funds have failed to beat their index, after fees and charges.
That means if you choose the industry’s favourite way to manage your investments, you are almost certain to lose money.
Active investing is therefore guessing, predicting and speculating.
As Benjamin Graham, the economist, investor and teacher of Warren Buffet said:
“The individual investor should act consistently as an investor and not as a speculator.”
The opposite of active, is passive.
Passive investing has many names; some people call it tracking, others call it indexing, but our favourite name for it is evidence-based investing, because that is exactly what it is.
It’s investing based on evidence – not guesswork or speculation or baseless predictions.
Passive investing is a style of investing associated with exchange-traded funds (ETFs), trackers and index funds, where a fund's portfolio mirrors a market index, like the FTSE 100 or S&P 500, for example.
In financial economics there is a theory called the Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH).
It maintains that market prices reflect all available information and expectations.
So a stock’s current price is the best approximation of a company’s intrinsic value.
Any attempts to identify and exploit stocks that are mispriced will most likely fail, because stock price movements are random, and largely driven by unforeseen and unforeseeable events.
Of course mispricing can occur, but there’s no predictable pattern for this.
So this hypothesis suggests that no active fund manager will ever be able to consistently beat the market over long periods of time – unless by complete chance, of course.
Therefore, stock picking, market timing and active investing cannot ever be reliably depended upon to add enough value to outperform a passive investment strategy.
That’s the science behind what is actually, just common sense.
Passive investing means:
The approach you choose has to be right for you.
Passive investing isn’t perfect for everyone.
But the general consensus of professional opinion is that passive investing is the best approach for most investors.
The legendary active investor Warren Buffet also advises his wife and ordinary investors to put their money into passive investments.
The reason is that passive investing will provide average returns in an efficient way, at a low cost, whereas active funds in the longer term will, in all probability, provide the same average returns but at a higher cost.
The effect of compounding costs and charges on investment returns is substantial. Over a 10 year investment period, charges paid to an active fund manager are far greater than the costs of running a passive investment that just tracks the market.
Science has changed every aspect of our lives including how we communicate, travel, shop and even invest. And the technology keeps improving.
In the financial world, planners who don't keep up, often fall behind and sell their clients short.
Before computers, there was no way people could possibly understand what drives the markets.
New technology allowed researchers to dive deep into the data to analyse the behaviour of security prices.
One such researcher was Eugene Fama.
He developed a new framework to study financial markets, along with Kenneth French, and has been honoured with a Nobel prize in Economic Sciences for his work.
Their research underlies all of Dimensional Fund Advisor's thinking and helped develop the firm's process.
Widely regarded as the "father of modern finance," Fama has brought an empirical and scientific rigor to the field of investing.
Transforming the way finance is viewed and conducted, which you may know as evidence-based investing.
Dimensional Fund Advisors is currently the eighth-largest fund company.
It manages assets exclusively for institutional investors and the clients of a select group of fee-based advisers.
Those assets were worth $579 billion as of September 2019.
So why haven’t you heard of them?
The firm does no advertising and is primarily owned by employees and directors.
This helps keep fund expense ratios very low.
DFA’s board members, directors, and consultants represent a “who’s who” in the world of financial economics, including Eugene Fama and other Nobel Prize-winning laureates, Robert Merton and Myron Scholes.
DFA does not develop or recommend investor portfolios.
Instead, this work is left up to the planner chosen by the client.
Development of highly efficient portfolio models requires a thorough understanding of Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT).
The principal goal of MPT is to achieve the greatest return for the amount of risk taken (or, conversely, to minimise the risk in a portfolio targeted to achieve a specific return).
Doing so requires combining asset classes in the investment portfolio to achieve effective diversification.
This is accomplished by measuring the correlation between specific asset classes that demonstrate a historically high rate of return and combining the asset classes in such a way that portfolio volatility is minimised.
Global diversification of the investment portfolio protects investors from a downturn in any single asset class.
Domestic or foreign.
DFA-based portfolios typically contain more than 9,000 securities in 44 countries.
Dimensional adds value over benchmarks and peers through a dynamic and robust investment process that carefully structures and implements portfolios to target higher expected returns.
By evolving with advances in financial science, the firm has delivered impressive long-term results for clients.
Which is why so many institutional clients and big companies use it.
And why it’s a well-kept secret.
The driving factor behind Dimensional's outperformance comes from their ability to have an exposure that is more sensitive to the market, size, and relative price premiums.
Of course, past performance is no guarantee of future success.
But looking at the evidence helps put things in perspective.
A systematic investment approach is the way forward.
It keeps investors disciplined and patient even through the most challenging times...
Because they believe in the enduring power of the markets.
They believe in their strategies and that their portfolio is working for them no matter what.
It's why during the volatile period of 2008-2012, US mutual funds saw outflows of $535.7 billion and Dimensional saw inflows of $34.4 billion.
Having a strategy you trust is vital when you are investing.
It will give you the clarity and confidence needed to control your financial future.
As Nassim Taleb explains in his book Antifragile:
“A complex system, contrary to what people believe, does not require complicated systems and regulations and intricate policies. Yet simplicity has been difficult to implement in modern life because it is against the spirit of a certain brand of people who seek sophistication so they can justify their profession.”
AES specialises in helping international professionals with their financial planning and investing needs. A question we often hear is, ‘does it make sense to invest internationally?’
Read more to find the answer in this comprehensive guide to investing for senior international professionals. We will also cover all the essential international investment facts you need to inform your own personal decision-making.
International investing is investing via a wide range of potential strategies, to capitalise on advantages offered outside your home country.
It’s an approach to investing that increasing numbers of international professionals and expatriates are exploring, particularly since it has become far easier to do so with the emergence of index trackers and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
You’re not alone if you’ve never considered investing anywhere other than your home country before.
Many people are unaware of the offshore investment opportunities that exist.
What’s more, for some people it’s a case of ‘better the devil you know’ when it comes to managing money and investing.
Because, as investment management companies say all the time, the value of any investment can go down as well as up, and so sticking to what you know reduces risk – at least in the minds of some investors.
However, often the reverse is true.
Sticking to what you know could actually be limiting not only your choice, but also the potential returns of any investment you make.
What’s more, limiting yourself to one market, especially if you’re living abroad, makes little sense. It’s called having a home-country bias.
Who can invest internationally?
Let's take an example of a British man who has emigrated and lived long-term in Australia…
He can no longer take advantage of any of the tax-free offerings in the UK such as ISAs or pensions, he is living in a different time zone, he is earning and using a different currency day-to-day, and he is surrounded by a whole world of new financial opportunities.
Why would this man limit his investment choices to those available in a country he’s left behind?
And, having an awareness of the workings of two first world economies – Britain's and Australia’s – he is equally as unlikely to want to commit all his money to investing in Australia alone.
So, it makes no sense for him to have an old or a new home-country bias: he needs to explore the offshore investment opportunities open to him and get some advice from an investment management professional.
Therefore, for anyone living abroad, it makes sense to consider investing internationally.
The term 'offshore investment' is synonymous in many people’s minds with illegally 'stashing cash' out of reach of the taxman. In actuality this is just a myth perpetuated by the media.
Offshore investing and international investing are one and the same: the terms are used interchangeably.
Offshore simply means a jurisdiction or country other than the one in which you’re living.
When we talk about investing abroad we aren’t suggesting putting your money in a poorly regulated, semi-legal island state where there are no rules, and where you have no protection.
Offshore centres and international jurisdictions utilised by most senior international professionals are those offering high levels of statutory consumer protection.
Investments made are completely geographically portable. And the investment management can be done easily, no matter where you’re from, where you move to, or even where you want to retire or if you want to repatriate.
Ultimately, by going offshore the jurisdictions available and solutions on offer, deliver senior professionals like you the widest possible choice.
For investors seeking the best financial opportunities, a home-country bias can restrict returns significantly. Yet it’s still the case that most investors commit the majority of their funds to their own home market, mainly because of a fear of the unknown.
But…anyone who’s got an iPhone, a BMW, Gucci sunglasses or even an IKEA sofa trades globally, supports economies around the world, and diversifies their spending base.
So why not think the same way about investing?
Fidelity Investment looked into home-country bias in the US and discovered that American investors keep about 72% of their investments in-country, and about a third of all investors have absolutely no exposure to international stocks at all.
It’s impossible to quantify the restriction such an approach causes to an individual’s portfolio. However, the clever people at Fidelity produced a useful example of what such a restriction could look like in general terms:
Since 1950, a sample and theoretical portfolio of 70% U.S. stocks and 30% international stocks could have returned 11.4% a year. That’s 2% more than a straight S&P 500 portfolio, with 10% less risk.
If that illustration isn’t incentive enough to consider investing offshore, consider the fact that: -
For non-professional investors, knowing where to look and invest, and precisely when to commit was all but impossible before the proliferation of exchange-traded funds and index trackers.
Nowadays it’s incredibly easy for anyone to develop an international investment portfolio.
As an organisation, we believe that unless your needs are complex, or the sums involved are significant, (in excess of £250,000), then it may be best for you to try DIY investing.
Nowadays, thanks to the amount of information accessible from books, on the Internet, and the number of guided investment solutions and offshore investment platforms available online, it really is possible to manage your own international investment portfolio.
You can choose to do it all yourself directly, or take a low-cost, guided approach to investing internationally.
If you prefer to seek investing advice from a professional, ensure it is from a Chartered Financial Planner. Their advice should be clear and impartial. Focused on planning where you’re going before you even begin investing.
It should always be integrated with investment management for the best outcome.
Note, financial advice and investment management are not one and the same thing.
Choose the type of firm you deal with carefully, resist the temptation to take investment or financial advice from someone you socialise with, who comes to your house, cold calls you at work, promises you quarterly reviews or someone who encourages you to think of them as your friend.
And do your own due diligence to ensure you’re speaking to a fiduciary who is independent – one who is not tied to any single bank or financial product provider.
Referring to the earlier example of Americans who have a strong home-country investment bias, if you look at the figures it’s easy to understand why this bias exists.
America is home to only 4.5% of the world’s population, living on just 6.6% of the globe’s land, and yet America produces 22.5% of the world's total gross domestic product and represents about 48% of the world’s stock market value.
What a successful nation. There’s no denying that.
However, an American who has a home-country bias, will fail to have realised that more than three quarters of the world’s economic activity is happening somewhere other than America.
And for the rest of us who probably live in far less successful countries, most of the world’s economic activity is happening beyond our borders.
So there are a number of reasons why we all need to take an international view of our investments in order to reach our financial potential.
There are many potential advantages to investing offshore if you’re an international professional; the following are just the most commonly accessible:
1. Offshore investment growth potential
The fastest growing economies in the world are in emerging nations across the planet – to cash in on that growth you have to take your investment to where it’s happening.
Emerging countries with rapidly advancing economies have a burgeoning middle class, who are building wealth and hungry to consume and acquire.
Include such a nation on your investing plan, ride the wave of advancement and enjoy the best growth potential possible.
Also, if you think of some of the strongest brands in the world, you’ll immediately come up with names of companies in countries such as France, Germany, America and the UK…
To enjoy riding on the wave of such companies’ successes you need to consider investing in different nation’s markets.
International economic and market conditions ebb and flow – by diversifying your investment approach geographically you may be able to reduce risk. At the same time, you may be able to improve your risk-adjusted returns.
With the help of investing help from professionals, you can diversify across currencies, markets, economies and financial instruments, and because currencies and markets all behave differently at different points in an economic cycle, you can create a diversified portfolio with strong protection against volatility built in.
3. Portability of offshore investments
The main problem that investing internationally solves for international professionals, is that of having money scattered around different solutions and structures, in different currencies in different countries.
This complexity is common, and it often leaves plans abandoned, pensions frozen and opportunities wasted.
If you choose to manage your money internationally, you can avoid all of these issues.
You can work your money to ensure it grows.
You also eradicate the problem of any logistical issues associated with accessing money left behind in a country you no longer live in.
4. Higher returns and lower taxes for international investors
If you look offshore and take an international approach to seeking out the best returns, you can find tax efficient investment products and higher returning investment solutions.
Subject to your qualification for such benefits, you could potentially enjoy much better returns and far lower taxes on your investments.
5. Global opportunities from international investment
When you consider that the UK is only 3-4% of the world’s GDP, you can see how limiting a singular investment approach can be.
Look beyond geographical limits and seek out the world of choice and opportunity available to you and your wealth internationally.
Using an international index tracker fund to gain access to another country’s stock market is a way to invest in a different nation’s potential relatively easily, and at low cost.
There are an almost limitless number of tracker funds available globally nowadays.
Whilst ISAs aren’t an option for non-resident Brits, trackers/exchange-traded funds (ETFs) certainly are. What’s more, an ETF can be tax efficient just like an ISA – depending on the way its structured and the tax status of the individual investor.
Wikipedia’s definition of an ETF is useful:
“an exchange-traded fund (ETF) is an investment fund traded on stock exchanges, much like stocks.”
An even clearer description for an international professional considering this approach for the first time is that an ETF is a way to passively invest in assets such as stocks, commodities or bonds, just by tracking the performance of an index.
The best investment funds are low cost, and very simple to understand in terms of the market or sector you have exposure to, and the level of risk you’re potentially opening yourself up to.
As an investor looking to secure your position and gain wealth from broad diversification, taking a passive approach to offshore investments via tracker type financial instruments might be worth your consideration.
The best investment funds for you will of course depend on various personal preferences and criteria, but the choice available is broad enough for there to be something available for virtually everyone.
We're centred around getting you the life you want.
Delivering clarity, confidence and control.
This means you'll experience something different from what you've had with other firms.
An approach beginning with you and the life you want to lead. Candid, often challenging questions, all about you.
Our breakthrough methodology unites highly tested planning, an extraordinary Nobel prize-winning investing process with a proven fiduciary service.