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 writer on Quora.com with over 222.2 million views in the last few years, and receive over 8,000,000 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.
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. Moreover, I really don’t have the time or energy to try to convince a cynical brain to be less untrusting and cynical.
- 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. As the great football manager Sir Alex Ferguson said, if a decision is to be made, it is better to be made as quickly as possible, assuming you have enough basic information to make a decision. Procrastination wastes everybody’s time and energy, and I don’t need new clients to feed myself! So I have a “two-week rule”. If somebody can’t make a decision either way by then I walk away.
- Meet the account minimums – You have at least $750 a month ($9,000 a year) or $100,000 as a lump sum to invest.
- A long-term relationship – not get rich quick.
- 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.
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 London.
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.
Since moving overseas, I have ran businesses in both the UK and beyond.
How do I keep track of my investments? – there is 24/7 online access.
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.
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.
For this group they are reassured by my media appearances and being the most viewed investing writer in the world on Quora, with over 222.2 million answer views.
What is the value added to your service compared to say a bank?
Most banks overcharge, and have an “off the peg solution”. Most banks also both hold the money and make investment choices. This conflict of interest often leads to banks only offering their own investment funds.
Many banks also close down closer accounts if they 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?
It depends on the product and solution. For the purposes of this answer though, let’s focus on lump sums.
On accounts below $500,000 I charge a 1% management fee. Above $500,000 there are discounts.
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.
My fees reward long-term clients and incentive people to stay for a long time but reducing them over time.
Do you see your account minimums increasing in the future? Most likely they will keep increasing due to rising demand.
What kind of investments do you offer? Each solution is tailored to the indivdidual. 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 a 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.
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:
- It is good for me and you. You should be reassured that I don’t just take anybody’s money, and I get to work with an efficient client.
- When I looked at client data, I found that those that made efficient decisions to become my client, were less likely to panic sell or instruct me to panic sell, during moments like March 2020. In comparison, people who made efficient decisions to get in were more likely to get better than average returns.
- It is about priorities. Whenever I have taken more than 1-2 weeks to make a decision there has been a simple reason for this. 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. Also, I never reach out to other people unless you are already my client. So, I would hope if you reach out to me, that implies this is a priority to you.
- There is so much information online, including online reviews about me, which should make your decision easier.
- 2 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.
Do you offer FX, Bitcoin or Gold?
We don’t do FX trading or Bitcoin. We don’t advise that gold should be a big part of your portfolio either.
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.
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 is 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.