A decade and a half ago when I started writing about offshore banking, times were good and one of the main motivations for going offshore was to reduce taxes. These days, with the world economy in chaos, taxes are a relatively minor part of the problem.
For example, we have already seen governments in the European Union such as Hungary and France seizing retirement funds in order to service government debt. Despite what the mainstream media would have you believe, in 2015 we are NOT out of crisis at all – we are deeper into it than ever. The evidence is all around you if you open your eyes to it.
Is there any good news for 2015? Yes, absolutely. Americans and Europeans still can – and in my opinion should, though time is running out – open offshore structures and bank accounts. When retirement accounts have been seized and full currency controls have been introduced, it will be too late!
Getting your nest egg safely offshore and diversified into different asset classes and currencies should be a priority – and you should do it while you still can!
Despite the political and economic pressures exerted by EU, US and some of the notorious international organizations like OECD and FATF, the leading offshore financial centres have lived through, adjusted, improved and are now doing better than ever. This may be because so many people and businesses worldwide have voted with their wallets and have chosen to do business offshore. And this is actually the reason why offshore banking has become a political hot potato. Not because it’s been killed off, but because it’s doing so well and attracting smarter individuals.
What about the banker’s point of view?
Running an offshore bank and dealing with the myriad of rules in various different countries is not easy. That’s why many banks prefer to concentrate on their domestic market and simply turn away business from other countries.
Those that do international business need specialist international lawyers on their teams. The cost of banking offshore, in terms of fees and the like, has frankly increased a lot in the last few years at all the banks we work with. Unfortunately, this is a cost we have to bear. As the old saying goes, freedom is not free.
I can’t stress enough the importance of dealing with people who think like us. Our recommended bankers understand your motivation and will do everything they can to help you.
Contrary to the propaganda, going offshore is completely legal. There are numerous legitimate reasons for going offshore, and more individuals and major corporations are jumping ship every day to land up in secure banking havens. As governments get more vicious and seek even more ways to get at your money, you want to be offshore more than ever.
Bottom line? There are plenty of ways you can protect your assets offshore, especially against less obvious threats like stealth devaluation. Our Practical International Banking Guide is an introduction to some of those methods. If after reading it, you have questions relating to your personal situation, you can talk to us or to your preferred attorney or tax expert to make sure any action you are considering is legal.
No doubt offshore has an emotional side. We’ve all seen the movies. Offshore banking conjures up images of touching down in light planes on remote islands rimmed by crystal clear blue seas and white sand beaches, or of driving high up into the Swiss mountains around hairpin bends. I’ve certainly tried both, and my career has taken me to some interesting places. But in reality, most offshore banking these days is done in far less romantic places like London, Zurich or New York.
Another important emotional factor is what people around us think. There are those who suggest that taking advantage of other legal systems is somehow wrong. Personally I believe the opposite. I believe governments are parasites. That said, of course we must respect and operate within the laws of where we choose to live. After all, if we don’t like them, we can leave – right? (You’ll find plenty of information about that in our Passport Report).
We’ve updated the Practical International Banking Guide this year, to reflect the fast pace of change in the offshore banking world.
We’ve included new contacts and removed and/or updated some old ones.
Remember that old information can be out of date and dangerous. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on our blog and Q Bytes email newsletters, as well as catching up on the more meaty topics that are presented in the Members-only area of our website.
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With best regards,
Peter Macfarlane, International Banking Expert, Q Wealth.