Where to find advice before investing offshore

Thursday, 10 March 2011 10:56

If you are searching for ways to make the most of your money, you may well be considering the benefits of offshore and international investments. These products can seem like an attractive option, but it is important to be fully informed ahead of making any investment decision and it may be wise to seek independent advice before taking the plunge.

Investing money in offshore funds and international accounts can help you to achieve better returns and to minimise your tax liabilities. The range of funds and investment vehicles on the market is huge and you are almost certain to find an option that appeals to you.

However, you need to ensure you understand exactly what you are signing up for before you actually put any money into international investments.

Banks and fund managers will be able to explain exactly what their offerings involve and outline what the potential risks and rewards are. What they cannot do is advise you whether their investment products are right for you.

There are so many factors to consider when trying to identify the best international investment options and such a wide range of funds available, it can be difficult to narrow down your options to the most suitable products. Once you begin thinking about factors such as risk, term, type of returns and market conditions, you will realise how tough finding the best investments is.

You may feel you have extensive financial knowledge and are capable of taking tough investment decisions, but it cannot do any harm to seek help from an independent financial adviser (IFA) – particularly if you have no previous experience of offshore funds.

A good financial planning manager should be able to provide whole of market advice based on your specific circumstances. They will begin by assessing your current financial position and discovering what you want to achieve from your international investments.

Once they have established those facts, they should be able to talk you through the available options. For example, is a capital growth fund or a regular income fund most likely to achieve your investment goals, or would a combination of international investments be the best strategy?

Perhaps most importantly, they will be able to offer you informed advice about the issue of risk. While the rule of thumb may be that the higher the potential returns from an investment are, the greater the chance of losing your capital, it can be tricky to assess how risky specific investments are.

A good financial planning manager will spell out the potential risks and benefits of selecting specific offshore funds, as well as helping you to devise an international investment strategy. This may well involve choosing a selection of funds, with some of your money placed in safe investments with steady returns and some in high-risk investments which have the potential for big returns.

The other issue you will need advice on is tax planning and regulations. There can be some tax advantages in investing in offshore funds, particularly those that offer tax deferral.

However, no investment is tax free and UK residents living in some countries may find they have tax liabilities both at home and abroad. A good financial planning manager should be able to advise you about double tax treaties and reduce those liabilities. If you remain unsure about the regulations, you may wish to take separate tax advice.

Offshore funds can be among the most profitable investments available, but selecting the right ones can be difficult, so it is always a good idea to seek professional tax advice before making any decisions.



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