(This article will explain what you should expect from me, what I expect from clients and all FAQs)
When I was a kid, I often heard the expression “there is no point in trying to put round pegs in square holes”.
It was only years later that I finally realised that there is no point trying to match with an unsuitable person in business.
As I explained in this article, when I started out, I wasn’t that selective.
Times have changed. I am now the most viewed financial writer on Quora.com with over 388.2 million views in the last few years, and receive over 10,000,000 monthly readers across numerous social media platforms and news publications.
This means that I can I can now be quite selective about who I take on.
Table of Contents
What do I expect from clients and what should you expect from me?
- Trustworthy and trusting – you would expect me to be trustworthy so I would naturally expect the same thing from you. I trust all potential clients with information, and like everybody to make informed choices which is why I am so transparent with the information I give on pages like this.
- Loves to be efficient – time is money for you and me. I don’t want to waste your time, and I want to save you time by doing things online in a speedy way. By the same token, I like clients to take decisive actions. Procrastination wastes everybody’s time and energy, and I don’t need new clients to feed myself! So, I have a “two-week rule” (more below). If somebody can’t make a decision either way by then I walk away.
- Meet the account minimums – You have at least $2,000 a month ($24,000 a year) or $100,000 as a lump sum to invest to meet the gold level, which means dealing with me directly. If you have over $50,000 (or $500 a month) then you can deal with my team. Over time my minimums (at least to deal with me directly) will likely continue to increase due to rising demand.
- A long-term relationship – Not get rich quick. 92.6% of my clients have given me referrals in the last decade. It is in both of our interests to have a lasting relationship, and for both sides to be happy.
- Traceability and transparency – What is safer ? Uber and other taxi apps where everything is traceable, or a normal taxi? The traditional business world often falls down on the “his word vs my word” fallacy, where there is no trace due to an in-person meeting. That is one reason why online has taken off. With investing too, it is important for you, and me, to have traceability and transparency.
- No excuses. Life happens to us all. In the last few years, I have dealt with the death and illness of people close to me, including from Covid, needing to relocate in the middle of a pandemic and work in hotel rooms for weeks due to self-isolation. I never let those events affect the service level to my clients. Likewise, I am not a big fan of excuses from others.
So, in a way I probably expect the same as you expect – to treat me in the same way as you want to be treated.
Frequently asked questions
In this section, I will deal with some frequently asked questions (FAQs).
Can you tell me something about yourself?
I was born in the UK, in Scotland more precisely, and lived most of my life in England.
That is until I moved overseas ten years ago. Most of my time overseas has been in Japan and China, although I have spent time in South East Asia and one year in Europe.
I do therefore understand the ups and downs, and financial priorities, associated with expat life.
My business was first Headquartered overseas, but has since also incorporated in the UK in early 2021, to further my offerings to clients.
How do I keep track of my investments? – there is 24/7 online access.
I presume everything is confidential including my data? Of course. We never sell your data to third parties.
How often do you keep in contact with clients? In the early days, it tends to be very frequent, as things are new to people and often people ask questions.
Over time, I usually communicate with clients once a month via email or WhatsApp. Everybody also get invited to client events, such my event with Shark Tank/Dragon’s Den star Kevin O’Leary.
What has been the typical performance of the investments? The average returns have been 8.4% per year, but this masks some considerable differences. I always try to tailor investments to what an individual is looking for – assuming they are realistic. A conservative 65-year-old might be looking for 4% per year, whilst a younger investor could be willing to take a bigger risk to get double-digit returns.
Are there any restrictions on who can apply? It depends on your country of residence. Most can apply but a few can’t. For example, American residents (both expats and Americans living in the US) can’t apply. Americans living overseas can apply.
This will soon change as I am in the process of gaining access to a US license.
Do you ever hold money personally? No. I use third party investment platforms. I am the advisor and not holding money directly. This avoids conflicts of interests.
Why do most people become your clients? From speaking to my clients, there are two main reasons people become my clients.
Either they have been introduced by an existing client, and they are reassured by the returns and consistent communication.
There are also many clients who find me from Quora, Google and other sources.
What is the value added to your service compared to say a bank, hedge fund or private equity firm?
Many private equity, hedge funds and private banks charge 2% a year + 20% of profits and don’t give clients access to high-net-worth millions (like downside protection) unless the person is investing millions.
Most banks also offer an “off the peg solution”, which isn’t tailored to your needs, hold the money and make investment choices and/or only offer their own investment funds. The latter two can be conflicts of interest.
Many banks also close down closer accounts if you move overseas, or at least stop you adding new money.
Beyond that, for larger client portfolios especially, the banks overcharge.
They often charge a percentage fee on top of their already high fees for trading.
So, if you trade $1,000,0000 of Apple shares or Vanguard index funds, that flat fee could be $1,000-$5,000 if the charges are 0.1% or 0.5% for the trade.
With most of the platforms I use, you are charged as little as $20-$40 per trade, regardless of the size.
In addition to that, there are discounts for clients that invest larger amounts of money and stay for longer periods of time.
Added to the lower fees, portability and enhanced investment choices, this is what differentiates us from the banks.
What are your typical fees on average?
Firstly, I don’t need to compete on cost, given how many people reach out to me, but they are reasonable.
It does, however, depend on the product and solution. For the purposes of this answer though, let’s focus on lump sums.
On accounts below $500,000 (USD) I charge at least a 1% per year management fee on the account value. Above $500,000 there are sizeable discounts, and huge ones above $1m.
There are also discounts for clients that stay long-term. For example, let’s say a client has $200,000 to invest.
In this case, i will often charge 1% for the first 8 years, and then after that, average fees will fall to 0.1%-0.3% per year including for my advice.
As the portfolio should have grown beyond 200k in 8 years assuming markets have done well, this is a steal, as you could be paying 0.2% on 350k or 400k.
For clients looking for shorter-term structures (say five years) the fees are usually slightly higher.
Existing clients also get discounts on certain assets, which further increases the value proposition.
It has been possible for me to negotiate with fund providers to charge 0%-1% for assets, which usually cost 5%, as they are high-net-worth solutions.
My fees reward long-term clients and incentive people to stay for a long time but reducing them over time.
For monthly accounts, the net fees are typically between 1.15%-1.9% per year.
Can I do it on a performance-fee basis?
Do you see your account minimums increasing in the future? Most likely they will keep increasing due to rising demand.
What is equally likely is a future wait list, which is likely to kick in from mid-2022.
What kind of investments do you offer? Each solution is tailored to the individual. In general, I offer clients a good combination of low-cost ETFs and investments that most people can’t get access to direct unless they are multi-millionaires. Having an 80:20 combination of ETFs (80%) with 20% in more adventurous assets is a winning combination.
Where do most of your clients live and what do they do? I have clients in more than 100 countries and 5 continents for a simple reason; I can be incredibly efficient online due to technology.
Clients come in all shapes and sizes; expats and locals and in different industries.
The majority of my clients are either expats, due to the cross-border nature of what I do, or locals who plan to become expats or want to avoid currency depreciations in their own countries.
The later point is pertinent for my clients based in Latin America, Africa and some parts of Asia.
What if you get hit by a bus tomorrow? Your investment is safe as i never hold money and other staff members can take over.
Do you have access to Vanguard, BlackRock and some of the bigger fund houses? Yes, I do. My model gives the client access to platforms which don’t restrict you to one specific fund house.
What about tax? We aren’t tax advisors and can’t see the future. Worrying about tax doesn’t make sense for a few reasons:
- The tax rules could change in your country of tax residency when you sell your investment
- Your country of tax residency might change in the future
- As in the vast majority of tax systems in the world, you are taxes when you make a gain and not when your account is going up, it isn’t something to worry about until closer to the end of the account.
- We, nor you, can control what tax laws will be in the future . So, there is no point in worrying about something we can’t control. It makes sense to consider carefully how to withdraw in a tax efficient way at the end of the account, once the laws are known at that time.
Most of our investment solutions are in 0% capital environments, which means neither we nor the investment provider charges you tax.
If you also live in a 0% capital gains environment (like in many Middle Eastern countries), or in a country which doesn’t tax international income or overseas capital gains, that usually means you don’t need to pay tax – but again we aren’t a tax advisory service.
With that being said, where we can find a tax-efficient structure, we look for it. For example, for British expats living overseas, if the investments is regulated in an insurance-company, there are often tax advantages when you return home.
Why do you have a “two-week rule”?
I didn’t have this rule for years. However, I have found having this rule is in both your interests and mine.
The reasons are:
- Nobody would dream about taking a lawyer or accountant’s time for free. This should be no different. I have considered having an initial consultation fee charge and removing the deadline, and I might bring that in in the future, but in the meantime I am reliant on people being reasonable.
- You don’t need to rush to reach out to me. I prefer people to make an informed choice. Many people reach out to me after weeks, months or even years of reading my content. 80%-90% of the information needed to make a decision can be accessed before you reach out and take both of our times.
- If you are really the kind of person who feels you can’t make a decision within two weeks of the consultation, it is better to either not reach out to me in the first place, or apply instead for my paid hourly consultations.
- It is about priorities. Whenever I have taken more than two weeks to make a decision reason was that it just wasn’t my priority. Let’s face it, most people would make time to meet a model for a date! So, I don’t want to push you into something, if this isn’t your priority. I will only deal with people who are interested – not the half-interested and those just shopping around. It is also good for both of us. You should be reassured that I don’t just take anybody’s money, and I get to work with an efficient client.
- The most valuable thing for me is time. As a lot of people are trying to get in, the most case scenario isn’t that you don’t want to invest, it is that you take a lot of my time in the process over many months. This system ensures that can’t happen.
- There is so much information online, including online reviews about me, which should make your decision easier.
- Two weeks is the deadline for getting paperwork in, not for funding the account. Therefore, if you are waiting on money from a house sale or something like that, the deadline won’t affect you.
In addition to the above, anybody who doesn’t want any time pressure can apply for the hourly service where I am directly compensated for my time here.
That service can be used for months or even years if you want to ask me any questions about your investments or finances.
Do you offer FX, Bitcoin or Gold? Can I fund my investments with Crypto?
We don’t do FX trading or Bitcoin. We don’t advise that gold should be a big part of your portfolio either.
On the lump sum accounts it is possible to buy Bitcoin ETFs and other cryptocurrencies, but buying is at your own risk.
I only have two clients in these ETFs. Both wanted it themselves, only hold a maximum of 5% of the portfolio in it and understand that it isn’t my advice to get into it.
If you want to fund your investments with crypto, and then sell out to buy into the diversified portfolios I recommend, then it is possible on the lump sum accounts only.
What are the biggest mistake people who reach out to you make?
The biggest mistakes are often:
- Engaging in analysis paralysis after Googling. “Doing your own research” can be dangerous as I show here, unless you have A LOT of time to do it properly.
- Caring too much about things which are irrelevant. For instance, in terms of the investment platforms, we deal with some which are regulated as investment companies, and others which are insurers. However, that makes no difference to the returns, as the same funds and ETFs are used. It is merely a regulation issue.
Do you have example fact sheets/investments?
Each investment opportunity is tailored to the individual investor, so I can’t give out whole portfolios here.
However, the following investments have been used in the past and most of them will be used for a portion of clients’ portfolios in the future
I can also give investors access to professional funds which are usually reserved for extremely wealthy investors, often at discounted prices.
How are most of the funds regulated?
Most funds and ETFs follow a UCITS structure – a European regulated structure. This is considered the gold standard of fund regulation, and can be bought on most platforms even if they are domiciled outside the EU.
Can you make your own investment decisions?
99% of my clients want me to make the trades as your time is money and most people are confused by finance.
In a small number of cases, clients have approached us because they can’t get access to solutions like Vanguard in their home country, and they make their own trades, and we just help with admin and occasional support.
This isn’t recommended for most clients unless you really know what you are doing.
Do you offer some kind of group support on WhatsApp where people can pay for group advice or online training programs/courses?
No. There are loads of free advice I put out there for people who don’t have the money to become my client.
Are you the member of any professional bodies?
Yes, the CII for financial planning and insurance. You can search here.
I know I shouldn’t try to time the stock markets and they tend to rise over time, but can you offer downside protection in case they fall?
Do you meet clients in person?
In reality, few people ask such questions these days. We are in a digital world and living through a pandemic.
The answer is no. I don’t have the time considering my clients live in over 100 countries. I do, however, occasionally meet existing clients when I happen to be where they are.
For example, my interview with Tom in Germany was done in Germany on a face-to-face basis, but he was my client for months, and we never planned to meet.
What are the biggest fears of your new clients?
A few are afraid about what happens if something happens to my health, and other unlikely events that we can’t always control like markets and future tax rates, as I explain on the video below:
I have also created an article on the common investment fears people have.
The information provided on this page alleviates most people’s concerns.