Monday, 24 September 2012

Financial Pages in Spain - Key Issues


Since starting in August 2010, Financial Pages in Spain has grown to over 150 posts. Whilst time moves on, many of the issues remain the same, but need updating. This is a summary of the most popular posts over the last year, by important categories;

Pensions

  • UK Pension Scheme but you Live in Spain
This post lists 30 different types of UK Pensions Schemes to help readers understand what the might have. There are then a series of questions and answers

  • QROPS – Comparing Jurisdictions
Following very substantial changes to the rules and regulations, in April 2012, QROPS (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes) have changed substantially. Here is an update of the key jurisdictions for QROPS

  • QNUPS (Qualifying Non-UK Pension Schemes)
These were introduced in 2010 under arrangements to shelter retirement income producing assets from UK Inheritance Tax (IHT). British nationals who are Spanish residents often, mistakenly, think that IHT doesn’t apply to them

  • UK Overseas Pension Schemes
This summary will be of interest to expats who work, are near retirement or already retired. It includes a summary of Section 615 schemes for those who work in Spain.

Our hard earned pensions are often our second biggest asset (even if you didn’t know it). You need PROFESSIONAL ADVICE to look after your future income and protect its capital value. Please email to be referred to an adviser I have thoroughly checked.


Taxation

  • Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion
These issues are topical though I am regularly annoyed that newspapers, broadcasters and politicians confuse the two. Its easy to deal with tax evasion – it’s illegal. Tax avoidance is legal but much more complex. Seems to me that most taxpayers, in any country, want to AVOID tax as long as they are not illegally EVADING tax!

  • Five Non-Resident Taxes
This is an issue which never fails to amaze me.  I’ve produced a PDF which anyone can request. I suspect that everyone who owns property in Spain should be checking out. Just email me

  • Spanish Inheritance Tax (ISD) - Impuesto sombre sucesiones y donaciones
The first important fact that expats and property owners should know is that UK IHT and Spanish ISD are not covered by a Double Taxation Agreement or Treaty. British nationals are often shocked to learn that ISD is payable on the death of the first spouse or partner.

Whatever your taxation position and even your liability in the future, planning is key. Email and I’ll link you to a professional if you give me a brief outline.


Investment Planning

  • Why Invest Offshore?
Well certainly NOT for tax evasion! Offshore investment suits a surprisingly large number of expats and property owners. It’s certainly worth investigating but only through professional advice.

  • Tax Efficient Savings for Expats
This includes long term investments as well as traditional savings. For the expat there is often the added complication of foreign exchange differences too.


Other Important Issues

  • 10 Things that some advisers won’t tell you
When someone first told me, I didn’t believe it! Many advisers, even those saying they are regulated by FSA, refuse to disclose commission which has been a UK rule since 1993. These nine other abuses too. I can refer you to advisers I have carefully checked if you email me.

  • Getting a Second Opinion
Financial Pages in Spain will gladly give a second opinion to any advice received – just ask!

  • La Torre Fx – Foreign Exchange
It’s online and available 24 hours per day, every day of the year. After setting up the account, it can be used over and over again. Your first use takes a little longer to comply with necessary ID checks, but after that it’s super-quick! The rates offered have been specifically targeted at beating the banks and giving you the bonus


Enjoy Spain – avoid the usual pitfalls and can I suggest that you followFinancial Pages in Spain

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David Goodall
Financial Pages in Spain

Friday, 14 September 2012

Ten things some advisers won’t tell you

Advisers should ALWAYS adhere to the principle of 'Know your client' I also advocate that clients should know their adviser!


Ten things some advisers won’t tell you 

It doesn’t apply to all ‘International Financial Advisers’ but it applies to more than you might think. Some are even guilty on all ten counts!

  • They refuse to disclose commission
You may not pay it directly by writing a cheque but you pay for the commission through charges. So why won’t they disclose how much they are making?

The requirement to disclose commission in the UK started in 1993. It is something that we all accept and take for granted. But many advisers in Spain not only don’t disclose, they arrogantly refuse to tell even when asked! Commission is your payment from your funds – you should know what it is – Ask and insist they tell you

  • They don’t even fully disclose charges
I recently read a report on behalf of one of my readers who contacted me through www.financial-pages-in-spain.co.uk . In a 17 page report charges  were mentioned a number of times but there was no table showing the total. That would seem reasonable or a single paragraph setting out the costs.

On reading it again, I found that although a complex financial structure was recommended there were no fund charges disclosed. This is key since, for example, cash fund charges should be low but ‘fund of funds’ are expensive. The adviser has a duty to point these out!

This action could lead to a fine by the FSA in UK

  • They tell lies in advertisements
Just because something appears in an advertisement, it doesn’t make it true.

Always remember that you can get a SECOND OPINION

Beware of what the newspapers call ‘Advertorials’. The advertisers pay for an advert but also get the equivalent space to write an article. This supports the advert! Look out for them, you’ll see lots

  • They don’t write you an individual report
I raise this issue as it has been mentioned in feedback from several readers. Feedback is always welcome.

One client wrote ‘I am not certain that this company really knows who I am, it was clear that it was a mass produced document with a few of my details added’. You would think as they are taking your money (undisclosed commission) they could give you some individual attention.

I emphasise its some advisers. Advisers I refer you to will definitely treat you fairly and give you personal advice. Email me for a referral

  • They use the FSA as a marketing tool NOT a regulator
There are many examples of why this is true. Already mentioned are examples which would not be tolerated in the UK. But they are in Spain and they do get away with it.

Non-disclosure of commission, failing to declare all charges clearly and refusing in-specie transfers are all rule breaches in the UK. Most British people have knowledge of the FSA and it gives comfort to them when advisers are authorised by FSA. Little knowing that many, not all, advisers use the FSA for marketing recognition then ignore the rules!

I know FSA advisers who do obey the rules and I am happy to give you a recommendation. The same is true of advisers regulated in Spain by the CNMV and DGS authorising agencies. Please email me for details.

  • They charge an up front fee before they will talk to you
This is very definitely a small minority. They tell you that if you go-ahead with their recommendations the fee will be rebated. That of course merely puts you under pressure to buy from them!

  • They put all their QROPS through one provider
Since the changes in April 2012, there are three QROPS jurisdictions which justifiably dominate the market (New Zealand, Malta and Switzerland) and between them cover the vast majority of client needs and wants. But many advisers deal with just one provider in one jurisdiction. This clearly is not in the clients’ best interest.

The reason these advisers do it is to lessen the admin burden, which frankly they should deal with anyway, and in many cases they receive extra commission sometimes call a ‘volume override’.

Check here and ask for real advice

  • They put all investments through one company
Given that the QROPS exists through a Trust Deed, it is in effect a ‘wrapper’ The substance of the arrangement is the investment within the QROPS. Future income and fund values will directly be affected by investment performance. It is therefore vital that the adviser takes note of each individuals need.

It may surprise you to learn that many advisers put all or nearly all investments within a QROPS to the same investment company. I expect that you guessed why by now! They get a ‘volume override’. The more they place with one company the bigger the payout. But was it in the clients’ interests. – I doubt it!

  • They deny the existence of ‘In-Specie’ transfers
One particular discussion I had really sums up what I believe to be blatant misselling!

I had a conversation with an English guy now living and working in Spain who was telling me about his Self Invested Personal Pension (SIPP). Naturally, I asked if he had considered transferring to a QROPS. He told me that he was very happy with the investment returns in his SIPP and that his ‘adviser’ had told him that it wasn’t possible to transfer the assets in his SIPP to QROPS!

This advice is wrong

Such a transfer is possible and is known as an In-Specie transfer, this is perfectly acceptable and clearly good advice where the individual is pleased with his investment performance. He has ditched the ‘adviser’! Please don’t get the wrong ‘adviser’ email me

One big company, after initially advertising QNUPS has decided to stop advising on them. Qualifying Non-UK Pension Schemes are ideal for In-Specie transfers and the big company makes less money for them! They make more if you cash in your investments and invest through their own investment arrangements. Yet In-Specie transfers are normally better!

  • They can’t tell the difference between the rules and their own business plan
In many of the big companies, advisers who operate from their offices are told the rules. In many cases they not the QROPS rules but the rules applied by ‘company policy’

There is one in particular I’ll tell you about. A well known company, you have seen their adverts, tells its ‘advisers’ that the minimum sum for transferring to QROPS is £100,000. That is their business plan not the rules. Just a piece of corporate arrogance!



10 bad practices for you to avoid!

* * * * *

QROPS will be right for most people who have moved from the UK to work or retire and who are unlikely to return. QNUPS can be ideal irrespective of residency but you need real advice. Just be careful from where your advice comes and I can recommend advisers who do not fail any of the above.
Please contact me for a recommendation.



David Goodall
Financial Pages in Spain




Saturday, 8 September 2012

Getting a Second Opinion


I recently looked at correspondence received from readers of ‘Financial Pages in Spain’ and can tell you the majority are summarised as;

Can you give me a Second Opinion?

For QROPS, QNUPS, UK Pensions, Investments and tax issues they are unhappy with the advice they have been given and send me examples.

Rather than guesswork people also ask me to recommend Accountants, Lawyers, Surveyors, tax advisers and other professionals. Any professional advice can be sought from ‘Financial Pages in Spain

Some of the things people have said to me:

  • ‘ It  looked like a mass produced report with just my name and personal details changed’

  • ‘ They wanted an up front fee even to talk to me, funny they never mention that in their adverts’

  • ‘ I was convinced the advice was wrong’ (by the way – it was!)


But they trust ‘Financial Pages in Spain’ and I am receiving comments which show a great deal of respect.

I’ll try to help. Email me

Can you help me to help you?

  • Please send me both good and bad examples of reports you have received, from financial advisers, I’ll respect your privacy

  • Tell me the names of Advisers who refuse to disclose commissions

  • If the fees, charges and commissions are hidden in a report and not openly disclosed, please send examples

This sort of information will help everyone and help eradicate some of the greedy practices.

I may not have intended it when I started out but it seems that Financial Pages in Spain is becoming the respected second opinion.


* * * * * * *

Whatever your query, please write to me. My email is on this link


David Goodall
Financial Pages in Spain

Monday, 3 September 2012

Why go to Seminars?


'Free cheese is just a mousetrap'

All of the seminars I see advertised in the Expat Press might be better described as ‘Starting up the Sausage Machine’ It’s time to be aware – the big, impersonal firms call this ‘Seminar Season’.

Let me explain;

The primary purpose for holding the seminar is to maximise on telephone numbers, email and addresses. The more the better! It’s just the start of a predictable process.

The seminar is ‘informative’ but the commencement of a product sale. Imparting knowledge is completely dedicated to the aim of selling a specific product.

You are encouraged, whilst you drink their coffee or eat their cakes to see their ‘local expert’. His title (I’m not sexist but they are) could be all manner of exaggerations like Director, Partner, Regional Manager or Financial Planning Consultant. The only title he won’t have is actually what he really is – Salesman. He’s not an adviser, he doesn’t act as an agent, he represents the company as a salesman.

You complete a Fact Find. Most likely called Financial Planning Questionnaire or something equally pretentious but it comes to the same thing. The salesman will come back to you with a Report, just for you, within two to three weeks.

Remember that the salesman won’t tell you he is giving advice because if it all goes wrong later, somebody else is responsible!

Your Report, the one especially for you, is produced in what can best described as a Factory. It has pre-produced products called reports, which have six or seven changes added to match your circumstances. That’s why you completed the Fact Find, not to give you advice or plan your future requirements but for the Factory to produce your Report.

Most Reports you get will not disclose the commission being paid. This may come as a surprise, as in the UK, mandatory disclosure of commission has existed since 1993. Even if the company is FSA registered, they rarely disclose commission!

The Report may seem very professional but you were part of THEIR PROCESS not YOUR NEEDS.

I regularly recommend advisers and if you want individual financial planning please email me

The advisers I recommend will give you all of the following;
  • An individual and appropriate process to establish your needs and an individual recommendation
  • Always disclose commission and fully explain the charges associated with their advice
  • Give you a NAMED individual who will be your adviser and who is ultimately RESPONSIBLE for the advice given
  • Assess your attitude to investment risk and match that to any advice given
  • Not charge an up front fee

Give me a few brief details of what you seek and I’ll be happy to make the appropriate recommendation to a Professional, Regulated and Qualified Financial Adviser. Just email me


You may wish to look at some other Posts from my Blog

Getting Professional Advice

Getting a Second Opinion (important if you’ve had a ‘Report’)

Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion


If there is just one major element of the 'Seminar' process it is this - FSA regulated firms who REFUSE to openly disclose commissions & charges - it's YOUR cash. Ask up front if they will declare all the commissions, in their Report. 


David Goodall
Financial Pages in Spain