(This article will explain what you should expect from me, what I expect from clients and all FAQs. It will regularly be updated)
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 the most viewed financial writer on Quora.com with over 625 million views in the last few years, and receive over 10,000,000 monthly readers across numerous social media platforms and news publications including a regular column on Forbes.
This means that I can now be quite selective about who I take on- take my eligibility quiz today.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
In this section, I will deal with some frequently asked questions (FAQs).
I was born in the UK, in Scotland more precisely, and lived most of my life in England.That is until I moved overseas over a decade ago. Most of my time overseas has been in Japan and China, although I have spent time in South East Asia, the Middle East, 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 I opened an admin office in the UK in early 2021, to further my offerings to clients. We currently have offices in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and clients in 109 countries. My business works in a different way to most others in the financial services industry. I only accept clients who reach out to me, either via client introductions or consuming my online content.
I am regularly featured in the media, including a regular Forbes column and a recent CNBC appearance.See the latest CNBC interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzbUl-bPOlA&t=65s
There is 24/7 online access.
Of course. We never sell your data to third parties.
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.
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.
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 for most services, even though I have partnered with an SEC-regulated firm for such cases.
I also have minimum investment amounts depending whether you invest with me directly or with my team.
Directly with me: $150,000 USD lump sum.
My team: $50,000 USD lump sum or $500 USD per month.
I don’t hold the money of new clients personally . I use third party investment platforms. I am the advisor and not holding money directly. This avoids conflicts of interests.
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.
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.
Firstly, I don’t need to compete on cost, given how many people reach out to me.
The fees for new clients will also be increased in the coming months, which should act as a good incentive to get in now, before I update this section of the website.
The fees 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.
There are also platform fees which i can’t control.
Regardless of the size of the account, fees will never be below 0.5% per year of account value, and aren’t negotiable.
Most likely they will keep increasing due to rising demand.
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.
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 depreciation in their own countries.
The later point is pertinent for my clients based in Latin America, Africa and some parts of Asia.
Your investment is safe as i never hold money and other staff members can take over.
Yes, I do. My model gives the client access to platforms which don’t restrict you to one specific fund house.
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.
Anybody who is low-trust, inefficient and/or unreasonable in how they use my time.
My model works in a simple way. I produce a lot of content for my readers and followers on my website, and third-party websites, such as Forbes.
Therefore, people who become my client already have trust in my expertise, and that makes the process easier.
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.
The biggest mistakes are often:
1. Caring about irrelevant things. 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.
2. Reading too much into the third-party vehicles I suggest. The platforms I suggest will naturally have some good, and bad, reviews.
That is because some advisory companies write negative reviews on solutions for self-interested reasons and the performance is down to the advisors who use the solution, so your millage will naturally vary.
Most of my client recommendations on LinkedIn are connected to the platforms I am suggesting, and most happy clients recommend the advisor and not the investment platform/solution, so it is a mistake to read too much into this point.
Ultimately, I am the driver of the vehicle. A good driver can get you from A to B in a Bentley or the cheapest car out there.
Accidents are usually caused by the driver, and not the machine.
So, negative online reviews for solutions are usually due to bad drivers (bad advisors) or have just been written for self-interested reasons.
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:
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.
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.
No. There’s a lot of free guidance I put out there for people who don’t have the money to become my client.
Yes, the CII for financial planning and insurance. You can search here.
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.
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.