Expat savings plans and portfolio bonds reviews: Zurich Vista + RL360 Quantum/PIMS + Friends Provident + Old Mutual executive/redemption bonds

In the race for investment returns,  many expats invest.  Whilst this is much wiser than keeping money in the bank, not all plans are made equally.

A case in point is savings plans and offshore bonds.  In the offshore expat markets, savings plans are one of the most commonly sold financial products.  Few people seem happy with them. 

In this article I will review some common expat savings plan, portfolio bonds, pensions and pension trustees for UK expats; and discuss whether people should keep investing into them or seek an alternative arrangement.

The article below is long and extension due to reader requests to add more content, compared to the original version.

If you are too busy to read the article and want me to review your policy, don’t hesitate to contact me on email ([email protected]) or via the numerous options available on the contact page. 

I can’t promise anything, apart from the fact I will try my best to find a suitable solution.

What are expat savings plans? 

Most expat savings plans are insurance-investment plans, offered by expat financial advisors and wealth managers, locals and banks.  If you die you will get 101% of the value of the account.  For example, if the value of the investment is $100,000, your offspring will get $101,000 on death. 

Typically, the plans have a contribution period.  5 years is often the shortest time you can save, with 25-30 years being the longest plans. Typically, the 20-30 year savings plans are sold more widely-sold in the expat markets.

These plans are generally coming from Isle of Man, Jersey, Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Puerto Rico,  Guernsey and numerous other offshore locations.

That isn’t the problem with these plans.  All locations, offshore and onshore, these days have strict investment rules in the wake of the financial crisis. It does also make sense for expats to invest offshore, for tax reasons, with the exception of Americans.

The issue is more the investments within the plans, and the terms and conditions, not the locations where the money is held.

Who buys these plans?

People from all around the world.  In general, I find British expats are most likely to buy the plans, followed by Nordic, French, Indian, Chinese, Australian and numerous other nationalities.  

What can you do if you have one of these plans and are worried about them?

Seek advise.  Depending on the terms and conditions associated with your account, it may be possible to go for a cheaper alternative or reduce the existing fee structure in the account.  I hope this article helps in that process.

Who are the major providers and products and where are they sold?

Major providers and products include:

  • Generali Vision. Now provided by Upmost Wealth Solutions in Guernsey.  So Generali Vision is now commonly called Upmost Vision Plan.  
  • Zurich Vista
  • Friends Provident Premier Advance Savings Plan
  • Hansard Vantage Savings Plan
  • Hansard International Vantage Platinum 11
  • RL360 Insurance Company Limited (RL360) Quantum
  • RL360 Paragon
  • AXA Pulsar
  • Providence Life Compass Account
  • Hansard Infinity Wealth
  • Hansard Infinity Wealth Access 
  • Premier Trust Global New Horizon
  • Premier Trust Global Premier Provest Principal Protection
  • Premier Trust Global Provest plan
  • HSBC International Wealth Builder Accounts
  • Canada Life Offshore Savings Account

These plans are sold all over the world.  However, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Amsterdam, Shanghai, Thailand especially in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, HCMC in Vietnam, Spain, France,  Tokyo, South Africa, Seoul, Germany, Switzerland and Brussels are some typical destinations where the plans are sold. 

The plans are also sold in Phnom Penh in Cambodia, Manila, Laos, India and countless other emerging destinations, where expat numbers are rising.

The lump sum products associated with these life companies are also sold extensively in Australia, Canada and New Zealand, due to QROPS pensions and SIPPS for British expats.

Due to the fact that most of these insurance companies are based in the Isle of Man or other overseas British territories, it is common for British expats to buy the policies.

How do they typically work?

The cost of the plans is typically levied upfront, due to sales and admin costs. The client is then reimbursed some of that cost at the end of the plan, in the form of bonuses.

Let’s take a simple example of a person who buys a 10-year savings plan.  If he or she pays the premium over 120 months, the total costs of the plans are often 1-2% per year.

Sounds reasonable enough. But if the client stops paying halfway through the contract, the actual cost is closer to 4% per year, because the end of contract bonuses are usually not given back to the client. 

Premium holidays are possible, but they don’t come cost free.  

Can the client make good money on these plans? 

A small percentage do, but almost all those small percentage of success stories are people who keep contributing to the end of the term.  

However, only 3%-4% of people contribute to the full 25-year terms. I have seen several people make quite reasonable returns from 10 or 15-year plans.  

But even then, many people stop contributing, because in the first few years the charging structure is high. Unless the client knows that they will get a big bonus at the end of the contract, they often stop contributing. 

What makes this particularly confusing is that the charges aren’t levied consistently.  On the Generali plans, for example, the charging structure gets very high in years 7, 8 and 9.  So high that it isn’t easy to make any on-paper returns. 

But after year 10, the charging structure falls dramatically, to approximately 0.2% per year. Many people, therefore, stop contributing after 6, 7, 8 or 9 years.

In general, the old-school plans should be avoided like the plague unless you can contribute every single month. 

How many years does the typical person invest in these plans for?

7 years is about the average, statistically speaking, for the 25-year product.  A higher percentage of people investing in the shorter 10-year plans contribute until maturity.

If somebody wants to stop contributing, what can they do?

There are numerous options. People can go for a maximum surrender value and just stop the accounts.  However, the surrender value can be quite low, depending on how close the client is to maturity.  

For example, let’s say a client has invested in a regular savings plan.  It is a 25-year plan and after 5 years the value is $100,000.  There are still 20 years to go, and therefore, the surrender value might be extremely low.  In comparison, if person B has $100,000 in a 10-year plan, and we are now in year 8, the surrender value may be 90%+ of the account value. 

A second option is a maximum penalty free surrender and withdrawal, which can be reinvested elsewhere, in a more productive way.

A final option is to stop paying but take no money out of the policy.  

Can somebody make money if they stop contributing?

It depends on many factors, including which funds are selected within the savings plans. In general, if people stop contributing they either lose money yearly on the plans, break even or at best make 4% per year.  It is a numbers game.  As the cost of the account will shoot up to over 4% per year, in some cases, due to non-contribution, if markets are performing at 8%-9%, the client’s account may go up by 4% if the right funds are selected. 

What are the biggest mistakes most people make in this situation?

Researchers call it loss-aversion.  People find losses more painful than gains.  That is one reason why some people are terrified of investing in the first place, despite the fact the Dow Jones has gone from 66 in 1900 to 26,800+ this year – a 10% yearly gain. 

In terms of savings plans, typically consumers will make the following mistakes:

  • Keep contributing and wait until the value reaches a certain level 
  • Never consider alternatives 
  • Bury their heads in the sand 

Sometimes, it is rational to accept a loss.  Typically example. Let’s say your account is worth $100,000, but you can only get $80,000 back.  Getting out of the account will cost you $20,000.  A tough pill to swallow.

But let’s work something out.  If markets perform at their average historical rate of return, your $80,000 will be worth over $100,000 in three years and about $207,000 in ten years.  

Of course, nobody knows what will happen to markets. In the last 9 years, markets in the US have increased by about 300%, whereas they produced bad returns from 2000 until 2009. 

However, statistically speaking, accepting losses can sometimes be rational if it leads to a better outcome.

Can I lose all my money if I stop contributing early?

Typically, these savings plans have an 18 month `indemnity period`.  That means if you stop contributing before the first 18 months you will lose all your money.  On the Generali plans, the 5 and 10-year plans both have indemnity periods of less than a year. 

If you stop contributing after 18 months, it is a misconception that you are likely to literally lose all your money.  What will happen instead is that the high fees will eat into the returns. 

Are the plans flexible? 

Not particularly.  It is true that after the initial period is up, you can stop contributing, decrease or increase your premium, but each option comes with ramifications.  Decreasing your premium will still potentially lead to very low returns or losses. 

This is because the charging structure is based on the initial premium.  So if you started with a $2,000 per month premium and then reduce your premium to $300 a month, the charging structure (percentage wise) will still be linked to the $2,000 premium. 

Do they all work in the same way? 

I have been asked one question commonly from readers of that blog posts and in person: do other savings plans usually work in the same way?

The answer, at least for the old school plans, is yes.  Different providers have different fees, but all of them:

  •  Have high fees.  Some have higher fees in other years than others, but overall, they are remarkably similar.
  •  Have especially high fees if you don’t pay in every time.  The way the accounts work is that you are reimbursed some of the costs of the account if you pay in every month until maturity.  If you even miss 1 month, you often can’t get the bonuses.
  • Are much more expensive than various lump sum and newer savings products

Are there some circumstances when you should continue to contribute? 

Yes.  If you are 110 months into a ten-year savings plan, it clearly makes sense to contribute for the final 10 months, as you will be given bonuses which will reduce the average cost of the account. Likewise, if you have invested for only 5, 10 or 15 years it may be worth continuing.

This will especially be the case if you have invested a small percentage of your income.  It is common sense that an expat making $10,000 after tax will probably be able to afford a $500-$1000 monthly premium.  An expat making $3,000 a month, might struggle to maintain the premium level.

Are there tax implications of coming out early?

Sometimes. If you deposit $30,000 into your home countries bank account, questions may be asked. That is one reason why seeking an alternative investment solution for the money often makes sense unless you are close to retirement.

Are there additional outsourced costs for investing?

Sometimes advisor firms outsource the management of the accounts for a 1% yearly fee. For example, Tilney BestInvest is widely used in Malaysia, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Qatar and China – due to the fact they are sold by W1 Investment Group and Infinity Financial Solutions.

The problem is, investing in BestInvest from a UK platform and investing from an offshore base is quite different.  Using BestInvest in the UK can be up to 5-10 cheaper than buying the same funds through an offshore life company.  So typing in best invest reviews, or Tiling Best Invest reviews, into google, will often lead to reviews relating to UK SIPPS and regulated products.

What other insurance-related products are typically sold? 

Offshore portfolio bonds are also widely sold.  These are lump sum products which are typically shorter in length – for example 5 or 10-year charging structures.  Such bonds are also used for British, Irish, Dutch and Belgium expats who want to transfer their pensions overseas. They are typically more flexible as 70% or more of the money can be withdrawn without penalty on day 1.

What are the provider and product names?

Some of the most popular and widely sold names are:

  • Friends Provident International Reserve Investment Bond
  • Friends Provident Summit Bond
  • Friends Provident International Zenith
  • Generali Worldwide Choice Account
  • Generali Worldwide Professional Portfolio Bond
  • Hansard International Capital Investment Bond
  • Old Mutual (used to be called Skandia) Collective Investment Bond
  • Old Mutual (used to be called Skandia) Collective Redemption Bond
  • Old Mutual (used to be called Skandia) Executive Redemption Bond
  • RL360 Pims
  • RL360 Oracle
  • Investors Trust Access Portfolio
  • Investors Trust Fixed Income Portfolio
  • AXA Evolution Bond
  • Providence Life Horizon Portfolio Bond
  • Providence Life Orbit Portfolio Bond
  • Providence Life Polaris Portfolio Bond
  • Premier Trust Global Premier
  • Canada Life Wealth Preservation Account
  • Prudential International Portfolio Bond

Some of the biggest banks such as HSBC Expat, Standard Bank, Santander International Swissquote, Santander International, Lloyds International, Nedbank Private Wealth and Barclays International also offer products and funds.  They tend to be slightly different lump sum products to portfolios bonds, but the fees tend to be high nonetheless.

Standard Bank has the Quantum series investments. Standard Bank Quantum Plus  10, 11, 20 and 23 are all part of the investment series. This investment seeks to cap the upside, whilst limiting the downside. Sounds good on paper, but the terms and conditions often mean you will get much lower than market returns.

Fees and charges within offshore bonds

Fees within offshore bonds are much more reasonable than savings plans as a generalization. That doesn’t automatically mean that is automatically explained in the application form and key feature, in a transparent way.

Also, many hidden fees eat into returns. This is especially the case with offshore pension transfers for expats, as the trustee fees can eat into the returns. 

Once again it makes sense to get a second opinion on these accounts, especially if your returns are low.

As portfolio bond values can typically be higher, the fees become even more important. 

Let’s take an example of an investor who has a $500,000 lump sum.  The fund fees are 2% per annum, in addition to the broker management fee of 1% and the life insurance firms fees. Markets rise 8% and the investor gets a 4% per year return.

Ultimately, if the fees could even be reduced by 0.5%-1% per annum, that can make a huge compounded difference over time.  It doesn’t sound like much, but it is $2,500-$5,000 in year one alone, and potentially close to $100,000 over a 10-15 year period.  

Remember as percentage fees go up if markets rise, a 1% fee in cash terms will become bigger and bigger over the years.  

Some offshore bonds do have more low-cost fund options, including tracker funds.  This means that many expats out there have plans which could be reduced in price dramatically. 

As offshore bonds aren’t as long-term as savings plans and don’t have the same contractual dimension to them, they tend to attract fewer complaints.  

Often in year 1, 70%+ of these accounts are liquid on day 1, rising to 100% within 5-8 years.

Funds within offshore bonds 

The biggest mistakes is to have many illiquid funds held within the offshore bonds.  Several of these illiquid funds, such as LM in Australia, collapsed due to liquidity problems or fraud.

There have been recent changes to the fund lists/fund centre which make it harder for advisors to pick such funds.

The performance of these bonds can vary differently depending on the funds that are chosen. For example, the Old Mutual Executive Investment Bond and RL360 Pims all have low-fee funds available, which can make a huge difference to the performance.

Fund performances and factsheets are all available online.

Should people complain to the regulators if they feel miss sold?

It depends on the market. Markets in highly regulated markets like the EU, Hong Kong or Singapore may get some luck going down this avenue, but it depends on what documents were signed on day 1, and what you can prove.

In most expat markets, financial services aren’t as well-regulated as in developed countries, and it is highly unlikely the regulators will care about any expat complaints.   

In the majority of cases, therefore, complaining isn’t productive.

What are some of the other platforms that are typically used in the expat market?

Interactive Brokers and Internaxx are two of the most popular ones.  Others that are commonly used include:

  • DBS Vickers Securities
  • E*trade Financial
  • iFast International
  • Novia Global
  • Platform One International
  • Praemium James
  • Raymond James
  • Saxo Capital Markets/Saxo Bank
  • Ardan International
  • Capital Platforms Isle of Man
  • Momentum Wealth Personal Portfolio
  • Moventum Platform/Moventum Capital Platform in Luxembourg.

What funds and discretionary fund managers are typically sold within bonds, savings plans and platforms? 

In terms of funds, GAM Star Portfolios and Tilley BestInvest have been commonly used in Dubai, Cambodia, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.  Both funds contain high fees.

In addition, the following funds are widely sold; both inside these plans and outside on independent platforms:

  • Guinness funds – Guinness Global Equity Income and Guinness Global Investors
  • VAM funds, including US microchip growth a and VAM managed funds such as cautious A and B.
  • Commerzbank structured notes
  • Valartis Group
  • Momentum Investment Management.
  • Harmony portfolios, including sterling balanced, sterling growth, usd balanced fund and Euro diversified 
  • SAM Group funds
  • Brooks Macdonald strategic growth
  • dvam funds
  • Sanlam funds
  • Various AXA, iShares and BlackRock funds.
  • Franlin Templeton funds 
  • Pimco bond funds
  • Castlestone low volatility income fund + faang fund
  • St James Place alternative assets fund; greater European progressive unit trust, balanced portfolio and equity income fund. 
  • TAM Asset Management 
  • ARIA Capital Management 
  • NEBA structured notes/products 
  • Portman structured notes/products 
  • Chronus structured notes/products

Historically, various suspended funds have been sold as well, including the Brandeaux Student Accommodation and LM Investment Management.

Some of these funds have performed well, whilst others have not, for a whole range of reasons.

What Pension Trustees are often used together with offshore bonds?

For British expats, popular  SIPPs and QROPS trustees are Momentum Pensions, STM Group, Forthplus pensions and the Sovereign Group. Others include 

  • Pantheon Pension Trustees

  • Trireme Pension Services

  • New Zealand Endeavour

  • Hornbuckle Mitchell Group

  • The Concept Group

  • Brooklands Pensions/IVCM

  • Bourse Pension Trustees

  • Baker Tilly Isle of Man/RSM

In many cases, you can lower your fees and improve your performance by making changes to these plans.

Should Americans buy these plans?

Before the FATCA law was enacted in 2010, it did make sense for American expats to invest offshore, although in a sensible way like everybody else. 

These days, it is tough for Americans to invest productively offshore.  Investing in an unproductive way can lead to tax problems.  

For Americans who have already bought these plans, however, it makes sense to seek a solution like any other nationality, and get the plans working more efficiently.

Why do investors fail in general?

We have previously looked at how emotions can lead to lower investment returns when it comes to greed, fear and egoism and also how some investor seem to like lower returns.

So often what happens is that people get emotionally connected to their existing accounts (not wanting a paper loss or waiting until it hits a certain level before selling) instead of just looking at the maths and academic evidence.

 

44 Replies to “Expat savings plans and portfolio bonds reviews: Zurich Vista + RL360 Quantum/PIMS + Friends Provident + Old Mutual executive/redemption bonds”

  1. Hi Adam,

    I have a Zurich Vista account (25 years) and almost finished the ICP of 18 months. My actual invested amount is already lower than the current value (which the broker of course will blame on the market conditions). I want out after the 18 months but they say I will lose all my money due to surrendering before the maturity date and the fees that will be charged.

    I feel mislead by my financial advisor as he claimed I could do with my money after 18 months as I please. Take it out, increase or decrease my premium or keep it as is.

    All of the information I am receiving now when I want out has not been communicated to me beforehand and I know I am not the only one they have mislead.

    Therefore my question would be; can they actually take all your money just like that and get away with it or do the people with an account with Zurich Vista have a chance to get there initial investment of 18 months back which they worked really hard for?

      1. Hi Adam

        As above I was also mislead into investing in RL360 quantum where I was told I could take my money out after the 18 month allocation period. Will I be charged a percentage ( 66% according to their website) of just the initial units?

        1. Hi Sam

          I have emailed you. But what I would say is that if you want to completely surrender after barely 18 months, a 66% charge (getting back 34%) is unlikely unless it is a 5 year plan. If it is a 25 year plan, the surrender value will be tiny, but it will depend on many things.

          Thanks
          Adam

  2. Adam

    I do have a Generaly Vision plan, 25yrs. I am at year 8 now. Returns are not bad, but fee’s are eating all. I even suspect of some Hidden fees or not correctly charged fee’s by Generally.

    All in all i believe that perhaps i can optimize this plan to be profitable, as fee’s should decrease after year 10 and higher premiums can be automatically indexed by 2%. But i still fail to understand the current valuation of the plan and the actual future expectations.

    perhaps we should talk for alternatives.

    Thanks

  3. Hi Adam, i’m about to start in a couple of days a 20 year investment on the RL360 Quantum plan, i make about 4000 USD a month and i’ve commited 1000 USD a month.

    After reading this article you made me rethink my commitment.

  4. Good day Adam,
    First off congrats and thanks for what is the best article I have read so far in my researching of expat investments.
    I am a freelance Oil and Gas professional, a Brit living and will retire in Philippines. 2013 I started an FPI plan that will mature in 2025 initially putting away 1000gbp per month. In the same year the same Singapore based broker switched my UK pension value of 90K gbp into a Qrops Isle of Mann based fund. In 2016 I took a 10 month payment holiday on the FPI due to no work. Upon the payment restart in Oct 2016 I increased the monthly to 2000 gbp which I have maintained to this date.
    Last year I took my monthly provided performance reports on both accounts and noted that 2017 was by far the best period for growth, however 2018 was pretty abysmal. I put all of my monthly figures into a spread sheet to show which months show growth and which show loss. The Qrops grew to 105K but dropped back to 90k 2018. Over the full year of 2018 I payed into the FPI funds 24k but the fund grew by only half that. Essentially losing half my annual investment. I had stern words with the advisor and we agreed to switch funds in my FPI portfolio and the Qrops. I am monitoring as we progress 2019.
    November 2018 I started looking at alternatives and was put onto RL360 and a 10 year Quantum option. After a lot of to and fro emails mostly answers to my many questions I did not go ahead as it just did not feel right. Something was telling me NO.
    I have approx 40k tied up in various crypto I deal with myself and should have pulled out in Dec 2017 when at 150k. I am sitting on that now. I want to do something over say a 5 year period that will maximise returns on a 2k gbp per month. Its looking like my income future is secure for at least the next 5 years.

    Appreciate any comments, advise etc…

    And thank you very much
    Kindest regards
    Graham Hill

  5. HI Adam,

    I have enrolled FPI premier Advance for 20 Years and paid ICP of 18 months. Do you recommend to continue or its not worth to do. Both ways please send us pros and cons . Thanks in advance.

  6. Hi Adam,

    I’m signed up for a Zurich – vista plan for 25 years, which I’m 3.3 years into to date.

    My FA has advised me to reduce my monthly amount of $1,000 to $150 to avoid any charges. Pay the remaining $850 into a Union Hansard Infinity Wealth as there is lower fees, therefore more growth and introductory bonus.

    What is your view on this?
    Can you run 2 x plans at the same time? Will I still pay the same high fees in the zurich vista on the original $1000 signed up for, even if I go down to $150 per month?
    Will I get penalized for doing this change by Zurich?

    What is the best course of action for me now?!

    Thanks

    Andrew

  7. Hi Adam ,
    I ve been approached by a Hansard agent. They claim I can get my initial investment back after 5 years and if anything goes wrong fsa guarantees 90 percent of m investment.
    I am not a UK citizen. I am not living in uk.
    They claim their system s safer than any other bank can offer.

    What do you think ?

    1. Hi Cem – it is true that Isle of man guarantees 90%….but that means if there is a financial crisis and something happens to the bank. In other words, it guarantees 90% of your account value, but your account value isn’t guaranteed of course. Anyway I sent you an email.

  8. Hi Adam,
    My adviser, a friend for many years and who gave some good advice, sold me an OMI Executive Redemption Bond. I asked no questions since I trusted him. The bond ran for about 5 years and I even topped it up twice before I started studying it properly. The charges were amazing and then I learned there was a penalty for early redemption which I had not been advised of. The underlying investments were generally ok but fees were killing it. My adviser proved incapable of explaining the fee structure. I modelled the bond in excel using the information I had – turns out that 70%or so of any decent profit is consumed by fees which get more onerous if the investments underperform. In essence the whole thing is leveraged to fail. I cashed it anyway losing about 15% of the original investment and I reckon I got off lightly and am happy to be out given what my model predicted.
    I would like to ask what is the point of such investments since I find it easier to invest directly on the stock exchange where you know what the broking fees are,. You can easily build a sound portfolio just by reading and asking, and you can enter and bail out at will. It takes days to get out of any investment in one of these bonds.

    1. Hi George – well you know what the fees are with any investment. There are some tax advantages of bonds for expats, but as you say, fees are also important. Different fee structures can be put in for the same bonds. So for the OMI bond, there can be client 1 paying 5x more than client b, due to hidden fees.These days as well, there are cheaper options – both on bond side and platform side.

      Adam

  9. HI Adam,

    I am presently having a Union hansard infiniti access plan of 5 years term in which I contributed for 24 months at 2000 USD/month. My agent is now offering to switch to hansard infinity wealth scheme of 10 years instead with an initial bonus. The charges however seems to be higher compared to present plan.
    Is it a good move ? Can you advise please

  10. Hi, I signed up for a Zurich Life Vista 20 year plan and I am now into year 6. After 6 years I have a return of 14% which is very low considering bonuses are included in here. This sought me to do some more research and with a sick to the stomach feeling I am being confronted with what many others are also experiencing. Do I continue with this no-flex inflation-following investment or take a hit and get out now before the fees stack up even further?

  11. I was recently sold a Providence Compass Savings plan to which I agreed £400 per month for a 15 year term. After further reading I’m not feeling very comfortable with this plan. Luckily enough my credit card payment was blocked by the bank so only my initial payment has been taken. I’ve been ignoring the warning emails for the past 5 months. Should I cut my losses and walk away from this investment at this early stage??

  12. Hello Adam,

    After see careless follow up my finance advisor, I decided to stop my contribution in both Hansard Aspire plans. What should I do to get my money back….I have zero trust on Hansard.

  13. Hello Adam

    I have difficulties with MFS Meriden and finally have access to my accounts. I looking to move the funds. One broker from Blusestar AMG is recommending the Ardan International platform to reinvest my funds. I would appreciate your thoughts. Regards Mark

  14. Hi Adam,
    I confess my ignorance on investments, but I am about to sign up with Hansard Vantage Platinum worldwide scheme to save up over 15 years and complete pension income. They promise a growth of 4-6% but I am a bit dubious about the final return if I stay until the end and how much I can actually expect to take away. Is it common practice that they apply charges as all previous comments say?
    Also what is the risk of a company like Hansard to disappear or will they be backed by government/Isle of Man in case something goes wrong.

    1. Hi Michael. I have emailed you. The risk of Hansard going out of business, and you losing your money from that, is very low. Most offshore jurisdictions do have safeguards in place, so I wouldn’t worry about that. I would more concern yourself with whether investing through Hansard is the most efficient structured, which I doubt as per my article. Adam

  15. Hi.. I am planning to start a 10year saving plan with Zurich Vista of 1250USD pm. I am uncomfortable with the charges, but this looked like the most suitable investment for a long term perspective. What else do you suggest?

      1. Hello Adam,
        I have signed up for a Union insurance contract promoting Infinity Wealth by Hansard. Is this a good plan? Union insurance not being an International company I’m concerned if it will affect my investment in case they shut down due to any reason . What will happen to my investment if Union insurance winds up their operations in the UAE ? Hansard is not licensed in the UAE and I guess that’s why it’s being sold through Union Insurance.
        Is Union infinity wealth better than Zurich Vista ?

  16. Hi Adam,
    I’m 8 years into a 12 yr Vista policy and I want out. From what I’m reading the good news for me is if I pull the total amount (current encashment value Vs total premiums paid) I will get back ~10% more than I’ve invested. I have spoken to Zurich to understand if I can take the money in the denomination of each plan (USD & Euro) and they have advised that I can only withdraw in one currency, I may be over reacting but I’m assuming I will get screwed on the currency conversion if I leave it to Zurich; my question is: could I do a max partial surrender in USD then follow up immediately after with a full surrender on the Euro?

    1. Thanks Ross.You can usually only withdraw in one currency. However, if you have 2 plans (1 in Euros and 1 in USD) you should be able to withdraw in each currency.

      I would just withdraw to a bank account in the same currency and indeed withdraw in the currency the account is denominated in. This will avoid any huge currency fees.

  17. Hi
    I had taken a 20 year Vista plan and pay 1100 usd a month starting sept 2008. Its current value looks ok vs what I have invested but am feeling unsure given stuff I am reading and hearing from friends. Feel clueless about the charges actually. Can you help me understand pls?

  18. Hi Adam,

    Firstly, I’d like to thank you on behalf of all the many expats you are helping with your impartial advice and guidance.

    I’m a British expat in Saudi working in downstream oil & gas and am planning to invest around 1,500GBP into a 15-year plan with Premier Trust (Provest Principle Protection) to boost my retirement planning.

    Because the policy is invested in market indexes (e.g. S&P 500, FTSE 100, MSCI Emerging Markets etc.) instead of managed funds, my advisor says the management fees are lower at 1.25% and most funds don’t tend to outperform their index.

    I’m planning to retire back to UK and my advisor says I can draw down the funds without tax liability as the fund is owned in trust and I can take the money as an interest free loan.

    I’d appreciate your any advice or guidance you may have.

    Thanks
    Alan

  19. Hello Adam,

    I have invested in a 25 years Zurich Vista plan, I am at my 3.5 year.
    I finished paying the 18th month premium, but at the 19th month I quit my job in the middle east therefore I am paying the minimum now. As now I read so many negative about this plan.
    I wonder if I should stop it completely now, or to continue. I do have the money to continue, but the charges are really high due to my initial Premium paid.
    What is your recommendation? to take the hit? or maybe stay another 5 to 10 years to minimize lost? I have invested about 30k now and the value is about 33k. Based on my financial situation, contributing about 5k per year is not a problem, and my FA assure me that even with 5k per year I will gain, and charges will decrease with years. However is it worth it to continue? every year I have a mental fight about if I should take the hit.
    Thank you

    1. Hi Jana – thanks for your message. The maths usually dictates that you should stop paying in. I have emailed you. Adam

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