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What international investment services do you offer?

AES International provides a range of international investment, international financial planning and international health & protection solutions.

Our approach is characterised by a unique focus on reducing costs, and improving the returns and benefits that our clients get.

Learn more >>


For individuals investors, our services include 'do-more-yourself’ investing solutions (guided passive investing), investment advice and other services such as lending, retirement planning and more sophisticated lifestyle planning analysis.

For companies, services include the full range of international employee benefit consulting, with particular expertise in corporate medical insurance and workplace wellness.  Helping you attract, motivate, retain and engage the best possible team is what drives us.

We think you need to ask these questions of any international financial planning firm before choosing a financial adviser.


What is unique about your approach?

We believe the traditional international financial services industry harbours conflicts of interest, which damage your returns. 

This is because this industry is outdated…it incentivises individual salespeople to perpetuate a wide range of myths, which ultimately enables them to transfer your wealth to themselves (via commissions and hidden fees and charges).   

We don’t just say this – we prove it with data and evidence.  If you'd like to know more, request a portfolio review, and we'll demonstrate.

Our passion, our mission and our movement are about helping you learn how to sidestep the traditional industry, and benefit from the massive opportunities now available to well-informed investors.

Because we are unconflicted by commission, we help reduce your investment costs, and improve the returns and benefits that you receive by using next generation solutions.

This means our clients get better results, and hopefully lead better lives, which helps us realise our own mission of positive change.

But what EXACTLY is different about AES International?

Pretty much everything that we believe to be in your best interests will be different to what traditional industry salespeople will have told you.

There are literally hundreds of examples of this...

But maybe this list will help you understand how and why we are different: -

  1. We believe that advisers must be vocational professionals, not salespeople.
  2. We believe that independent advice from a chartered firm beats conflicted advice from individual advisers or friends.
  3. We believe in fair fees, not in hidden commissions.
  4. We believe in passive funds / index funds / ETFs - and not structured products, alternatives or expensive mutual funds.
  5. We believe in centralised service, not highly personalised promises.


Carl Richards_complete financial life

What financial structure is best for me as an expat?

We only advocate a personalised financial advice service for those with sufficient wealth to make our fee-based service worth the investment.

Studies show that un-conflicted and unbiased investment advice and lifestyle financial planning services, like our own, generate substantial value.*

Our full service combines investment advice and financial planning to help you understand, protect and build your wealth.

This is an holistic approach: it helps you lead a successful financial life – it's not just focused on maximising your investment returns, but improving your overall financial well-being and knowledge.

The evidence demonstrates that those who invest without taking such professional financial advice, by choosing a so-called execution-only/do-it-yourself approach, tend to get deeply sub-optimal results (averaging between 7.5% and 8.5% below the market).**

In general terms, we feel that those with less than £250,000 of investable assets do not need full financial planning assistance, but just a helping hand in terms of choosing the right direction with investment management. 

This means the overall cost of financial advice won't erode returns. 

Our Smart Account™ is ideal for you if you are this type of investor.  And our Knowledge Library and blog give you lots of free guidance.

For those with in excess of £250,000 in investable assets, or those with complex wealth management questions, we believe integrated financial planning and investment management is usually best. 

If this sounds like you, talk to us to find out how we can help you.

*Vanguard research March 2014, 'Putting a value on your value: Quantifying Vanguard Advisor’s Alpha.'

** http://ssrn.com/abstract=2023588.

What is international financial planning?

International financial planning is a professional approach to planning your financial future. It helps those who live overseas (expatriates), those with complex cross-border tax arrangements (non-doms), and those who own assets in multiple tax, legal and regulatory jurisdictions.

Based on your personal risks, aspirations and financial demands, a good financial planner will produce an effective road map to help you reach your desired financial destination.


Good offshore financial advice helps point out the risks, the returns and the flexibility of your options within a marketplace where many regulatory and legal protections may not apply. Good international financial advisers recommend which path to take so that you can grow your money through solid investment choices, but still have enough cash and flexibility for expenditure.

Professional financial planning incurs professional, transparent fees, (just like those a chartered accountant, chartered surveyor or lawyer charge).  If your needs are simple, it is unlikely that you will make money net of fees, and it is often better to just get a helping hand to ensure you invest sensibly. 

This fact isn't what the industry wants you to know, because they can make several decades worth of fees on the very first day you incept a plan through a mechanism called ‘indemnity commission.’  This hidden payment creates a lack of flexibility as it results in exist penalties and surrender values, at the same time as eroding your future returns and misaligning the salesperson's interests with yours.


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What is the value of international financial advice?

The true value of a financial adviser often manifests itself as being a ‘behavioural investment counsel.’  To that end, we are here to help bridge the behaviour gap – that is, he difference between investment returns, and the returns of the average investor.

This gap exists because of the human tendency to allow emotions to overwhelm rational thinking when making investment decisions.

Internationally, this gap is more than just a gap - it’s a chasm - because of untrustworthy sales people, myths within the offshore financial industry, expensive and inflexible products, hidden commissions and risky esoteric investments.

At AES International we steer our clients away from the risks and pitfalls of widely-used offshore solutions, and therefore believe the value we create and add is immeasurably greater in the international advice marketplace.

The value we add starts with helping prevent potential mistakes from being made, and we continue to add value by helping you to invest sensibly and grow your wealth.

You get peace of mind and security.


Why hire an international wealth management firm?

Clients who benefit the most from our services understand something very important about successful investing, that has been proven time and time again:

Investors are not hardwired to make rational decisions when confronted with emotional, challenging facts in relation to their investments.

In other words, individual investors are often the worst persons to manage their own finances.

In offshore financial services, the situation is slightly different.  With just a helping hand, self-investing is normally better than becoming the victim of a rotten offshore financial adviser or salesperson or local bank.  But the evidence shows it is still sub-optimal…


Our chartered financial planners and chartered wealth managers create a great deal of value by understanding this. A large part of our job is to act as a barrier between investors and their own worst instincts.

In particular, AES International helps safeguard investors and clients from an industry of retail banks, IFAs and insurance salespeople who want to sell their toxic wares to unsuspecting and poorly protected expatriates.  We try to warn you about financial scams, and guard both your ‘Buy & Sell’ buttons.

We know that over our clients’ lifetimes there will be economic, political, and market events that will create significant emotional hurdles that will trip up the unwary. We help you clear these hurdles.

But, you don’t only employ a financial practitioner to talk you off the ledge during inevitable bouts of global financial or political turmoil. You hire them to guide you towards achieving significant financial goals, such as:

  • Being able to live the life you've earned when you come to retire. You may be nearing retirement and unsure of when, how and to what extent you can draw sustainable income from your investments. A well-qualified financial adviser will help you plan for this, and will ensure that you don’t get in your own way of success.
  • Determine if, and how, you are able to pay for your children’s or grandchildren’s education.
  • Identify and plan for expenses above and beyond the day-to-day, such as travel, a second home and any other life goals.

We have taken specific steps to ensure a few very important things when it comes to the construction of our practice:

  • We act solely as fiduciaries to our clients. A fiduciary is an individual who has a professional obligation to do what is right for their client – in the same way a lawyer, doctor, or accountant has a professional obligation to act in the best interests of their clients.
  • Our financial practitioners are highly qualified professionals, who have successfully undertaken relevant and prestigious international qualifications.
  • Our chartered financial planners assist clients with the development and maintenance of their financial plans.

The bottom line is that you should be thinking about hiring a firm that can be a wealth manager, financial adviser and a financial planner, to assist you in best utilising your means to accomplish the various goals you have in mind for your lifetime.

Learn more about the fiduciary standard >>


How does international financial planning work?

Most of our clients are expatriates, non-domiciled individuals, or those with other cross-border or offshore financial requirements.

Our process begins by taking an holistic approach to your financial life.

We then construct a blueprint for your financial plan, that becomes the basis of your relationship with our organisation.


The process consists of several steps, culminating in a financial plan, paired with a recommended investment solution.

In our experience, clients who go through this process become investors who are better equipped to make educated decisions about their financial future.

We consider how to optimise clients’ pensions, investment platforms and portfolio approach, taking advantage of the opportunities offered to expatriates living in tax-free jurisdictions. We bring high standards of discipline and expertise to complex matters that, if left untended, can become problems.

We employ UK-qualified financial advisers, including chartered wealth managers, chartered financial planners, retirement planning specialists and pension transfer specialists.  All are highly trained, qualified and experienced professionals. The cost of their time, and the time taken for their planning process, means that the greatest value is added for clients with assets of at least £250,000.

We do not sell products. We offer clear, expert advice, cutting through the overwhelming mountain of financial information, and put plans in place for our clients to help them achieve their financial goals.

The plans we devise are unique, as no two clients have the same set of circumstances. However, our fundamental approach never changes.

We will get to know your financial circumstances well. We will understand your attitude to wealth and to risk, your hopes and concerns for the future, and make money an efficient, effective tool for your journey.

Here's what our client's have to say about us >>



How does AES International invest?

We believe in low-cost, simple investment plans in a marketplace of near-limitless complexity. The strategies and solutions we utilise are selected specifically to address the objectives of each client.

Because we recognise that high costs are the greatest enemy of investment returns, we favour low cost, liquid and flexible investments.  Where possible, we employ exchange traded funds (ETFs), but we also access mutual funds.

A full range of investment solutions makes up our current investment universe. The ETFs we employ are simple, physically-backed and liquid securities, comprised of a range of asset classes. As an entirely independent company, we can select from any assets, holdings and securities depending on what is most appropriate to each client — we're not tied to anyone.

All successful investing is goal focused and planning orientated. We believe you should have a basic investment plan and, unless the world changes, you should follow it. We believe strongly in modern portfolio theory; that the greatest driver of your investment return is in your asset allocation, not your security selection. Putting this into practice means that we save you money and make you money.

Learn more about our investment code >>


What is evidence-based investment?

AES International has adopted an evidence-based approach to investing that seeks to provide the greatest likelihood of a successful outcome for clients; the evidence provides very clear guidance as to the investment activities that organisations such as our own should be focusing on.


Passive, or index fund investing refers to an investment methodology that attempts to track a specific market index as closely as possible. The theory behind indexing as an investment strategy focuses on the zero-sum game: before costs, for every investment that outperforms the index of a chosen market, there has to be another one that underperforms it. But once costs are taken into account, it means that the low-cost index funds will have a greater probability of outperforming higher-cost actively managed funds.

Our three key beliefs which drive investment decisions for our clients are: 1) markets work efficiently; 2) risk and reward go hand-in-hand; and 3) diversification is a vital tool, described by Warren Buffet as ‘the only free lunch in investing’.

Therefore, when constructing portfolios, we focus on structure, cost management and risk control. The combination of this evidence-based investment approach coupled with disciplined international financial planning, and the management of behavioural bias, means the best financial solutions are delivered for our clients.

Learn more >>

Do you manage my investments?

No. There are two types of investment management: advisory and discretionary. AES International is not a discretionary investment manager, which means that we don’t have authority for the final investment decision-making and transactions. Instead, we give advice. Advisory investment managers advise their clients about which investments to choose. It is then up to the client whether they take this advice.



Couldn't I do this myself?

Yes – but the evidence suggests that most DIY investors who track down the cheapest platforms end up reaping themselves negative returns…

Author Malcolm Gladwell popularized the concept of the 10,000 hour rule as the amount of time required to gain competence within a specific field.  Applying this rule to investing - someone who has little experience such as a DIY investor is likely to make many mistakes — which is normal when learning any new skill.

For example, an inexperienced investor might think they’re well diversified when they’re not, they might trade frequently based on what they see on the news, or hold inappropriate investments in taxable or non-compliant accounts.

Even more importantly, in order to improve you need to receive useful feedback during your practice.

In Thinking Fast and Slow, the psychologist Daniel Kahneman explains that learning to drive is one activity where feedback is immediate and clear. When you’re taking corners, you instantly know whether you’ve turned the wheel too sharply or applied the brakes too hard. This makes it relatively easy to improve as a driver

But with investing, the size (or cost) of a mistake may not become apparent for quite some time - perhaps until it's too late to rectify.  

Professional advice from someone who isn’t incentivised or paid by the industry in the form of commissions and hidden fees, but who represents your best interests, is therefore critical to getting things right first time.

This type of professional advice is best obtained from a fee-based, chartered financial planning organisation – not an individual with whom you play golf, who comes to your home, who works on commission/referrals, or whom you consider to be a friend.

A mountain of evidence demonstrates staggeringly different outcomes are obtained by those who take advice from commission-based investment salespeople (like banks and IFAs), those who do-it themselves (DIY/execution-only) and those who use a fiduciary/fee-based professional such as a chartered wealth manager from a chartered financial planning organisation.

And of course, chartered financial advisers have a minimum of 10,000 hours of professional experience...


Is there a minimum investment?

We maintain a commitment to help all expatriates with their financial planning regardless of their wealth, wherever we can.

However, our advisory services are best suited to those who already have, or who are on their way to achieving £500,000 of investable assets.

However, we have a wealth of free to access financial education material in our Knowledge Library and blog.


How much should I expect to make?

We don’t believe that you should ever attach weight to predictions of future returns.

Markets are simply too complicated for that.  However, we believe that while past performance is absolutely not a guarantee of future returns, long-term historic market behaviour has been very consistent.


In particular, history shows that asset class volatility (or risk) is highly consistent. We don’t expect this to change - it’s often said that the four most dangerous words in the English language are ‘This time it’s different’. 

So we carefully consider the lessons the market has taught over centuries, and we follow modern, best practice in employing portfolios that are properly-designed and risk-managed to be as efficient as possible.

Over the long term, higher-risk portfolios tend to generate higher returns, but they will be more volatile than their lower-risk alternatives.  Experience shows that the clients with the highest returns are those who are able to stay the course for the longest period of time, through volatility, and the regular periods of downturns that markets always experience.

Learn how you can maximise your investment returns >>


Am I locked in?

No. Successful investing requires a long-term perspective, but we recognise that circumstances can change and that your plans may need to be revised accordingly. It is fundamental to our approach that you can withdraw any or all of your money whenever you like, without penalty, cost or delay - and there’s no minimum investment period.



How will my offshore investments be taxed?

We aren’t tax advisers so we can’t give guidance on your tax exposure.

International investors may benefit from very low, or zero tax rates in the countries where they live.  But tax, especially where it involves cross-border issues, is increasingly complex and you should be very careful to take tax advice from a reputable, properly qualified tax adviser who is qualified to give opinions on the tax exposure you will have in the countries that are relevant to you.

Whatever you do, make sure you understand and follow the tax laws, as the penalties for tax evasion may involve very large fines or even imprisonment.

There are tax advisers with whom many of our clients work, and we can give you their contact details, just ask us - this does not serve as a recommendation however, or tax advice.


What is the ABC rule of international investing?

It’s simple — and it’s common sense.  If you are from country A, and you live in country B, then you should keep your investments in country C.

If, for example, you are Irish, living in the UAE, you should make sure that your savings are held and managed in a third country - one where the rule of law, tax regulations and ease of doing business are all at the highest level.

There are lots of good reasons for this – not least that the country where you live may have tax or inheritance rules that are very different to what you would want or expect. Keeping your wealth in a third, neutral jurisdiction keeps you safe from unexpected risks, and maintains your tax efficiency until you return to your home country or move to another expat location.


How do you charge / what are your fees?

Our charges depend on how we help you and the services you require. 

All our clients are unique and have different needs, but please be assured that whatever we agree with you in terms of a professional fee, this will be confirmed in writing prior to any work commencing on your behalf.

We are committed to making our fees and charges simple and transparent.  As such, we publish the most common fees on our website, and operate a clear tariff of fees and charges. 

We are a commercial business – but we also know that our success is delivered through a long-term approach that marries our charges to meeting our clients’ needs, therefore we commit to keeping costs competitive and transparent.  

Finally, cutting clients' costs is a core commitment, because lower costs increase returns and improve outcomes returns.  

If you have a portfolio and you would like to find out if we can cut your costs, the simplest way is to request a portfolio review


Where are you located?

We have three main offices – one in London and two in Dubai - but we also hold licences or have representatives in 36 other countries. We are authorised and regulated in each of the jurisdictions where we have establishments, and can provide international investment advice on a cross-border basis from these. For financial advice in Dubai, we have offices in the Dubai International Financial Centre and Business Bay.

We invite and strongly recommend that you ask to see proof of licensing before engaging with us - or any other advisory firm.

Get more information >>


How does AES International compare to my other investment options?

Your other main option is to build and manage a portfolio yourself, but as explained above, this can prove time-consuming and risky. 

However, if you are confident in your skills as an investor, then there is a wide range of low-cost investment and trading platforms where you can manage your own wealth.  You might also like to consider our Smart Account™.


To help you, no matter which investment approach you favour, we have free to access eBooks on our website that offer advice on how to build and manage your wealth.

Another investment alternative you have is handing your money over to another adviser.

In our experience, despite the fact that many traditional IFAs say theirs is a free service, this can be a very costly approach, and your wealth may be at risk.

Such advisers are paid opaque commissions and hidden fees, and thus financially incentivised to put their interests ahead of your own.

In truth, there are very few advisers in the international marketplace who operate to the standards that we commit to. Unlike most home jurisdictions (e.g., UK), the level of oversight and enforcement by regulators in international markets is simply insufficient to protect you from mis-selling or worse.

Our organisation is structured to give our clients, who value professional advice, a much better, cost-effective experience that gets them the right results.

How can I invest as an expat?

The short answer is, very easily.

After initial discussions around your goals or queries, and the services and solutions we can offer, we then take great care to establish your identity and address at the outset of our professional relationship.

This is called 'know your client' due diligence, and it's a process that exists to protect everyone involved.

As we operate to the highest international regulatory standards, so we require information that proves your identity, and also where any monies are coming from. 

This can take a little time – but ultimately it should give you peace of mind to know that, from the very beginning of your relationship with us, we make sure that everything is done properly, and in your best interests.

We then work with you to make the best, well informed decisions about how best to invest your money to achieve your financial goals.

Get access to free resources designed to help you make informed decisions >>



What are your market expectations this year and beyond?

We don’t know!

But we do know that talking heads on CNBC and elsewhere have successfully got it wrong time and time again!  

So we ignore this market noise and focus on identifying simple, cost-effective solutions that, within a defined asset allocation, offer the best chance for investors to meet their long-term investment goals.

We think this is pretty easy - and we don’t want to make it any harder, or more expensive for our clients by making speculative decisions based on baseless predictions that will probably turn out to be wrong!


I have met an IFA, tied agent or appointed representative who is affiliated to AES International – where do they fit in?

As a large international financial services business we provide licensing, compliance supervision and a range of middle and back office services to self-employed advisers and separate businesses. 

These may operate different business models, different charging structures (which must always be set out in writing), different brand names and different websites.

If you are unsure about anything - such as who you're speaking to - we always invite you to contact us directly, and to be fully informed about who you're dealing with, their professional background and accreditation, licensing and regulation. 


What should I look for in a financial adviser?

Not all financial advisers are the same.

Good financial advice relies on the professionals who give advice having relevant qualifications, experience and integrity.

These advisers need to operate within a corporate framework which provides a regulatory umbrella, compliance supervision, good management, systems and controls, all of which operate towards treating clients fairly.

In our view, the culture and values of a company inform the type of advice and service you are likely to receive. 

We strongly recommend that you run through this due diligence checklist on how to choose a financial adviser before committing to using us, or any of our competitors.


How to choose-a-financial-adviser

Where can I find a good financial adviser?

Personal recommendations are not a reliable way to decide on a financial adviser - because badly advised people are often unaware they have received poor financial advice for many years.

Unfortunately, bad financial advisers make themselves much more visible within a marketplace than the good ones, (the bad ones cold call, turn up at your house, meet you after work...)

Bad financial advisers are often very slick and effective salesmen who will tell you what you want to hear about great returns and better performing funds.

Good financial advisers more often than not uncover uncomfortable truths…

Do your own research by ticking off against this due diligence checklist on how to choose a financial adviser. You have found a strong contender if they score 100%.

If you've already taken advice and want a second opinion, we offer a portfolio review service.

How do I complain if something goes wrong?

Sometimes, clients are unhappy: we under-deliver against something, or they are simply unhappy with the way that we performed our tasks. Where that’s the case, we are quick to raise our hands and take responsibility.

We have a well-codified complaints process that, regardless of jurisdiction, is run to UK service standards.

If we can’t resolve an issue quickly and satisfactorily, we suggest that clients follow our formal complaints process. We will always make sure that you are aware how to complain to the relevant regulator in your jurisdiction.


How to correct your bad financial decisions

How do I get a job with AES International?

We are always looking for talent. Finding great people who are committed to our mission for positive change, and who believe in financial education and the improvement of clients' lives, is a key priority.

You can learn more about our culture here, and if you think you may be a good fit, apply here.



You didn't answer my question!

Please send any questions you have using the button below - and we will get back to you with the answer.

As with all investing, your capital is at risk. The value of your portfolio with AES International could go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invest.

You have questions? Get them answered.

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