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May 06 2013

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An Expat Canadian in Japan, Finds A Way To Invest





One of my readers (an expat Canadian named Jon) was looking for investment options in Japan. 

He wanted to invest with low cost index funds, but found nothing available.  As a result, he opted for a Singapore-based brokerage–the same one I use.  Best of all, he didn’t have to fly to Singapore to open it.  Here’s the story, in his own words below:

Andrew,

The process of opening a DBS Vickers Securities trading account while living in Japan as a Canadian non-resident was relatively easy. Initially I thought that I would have to visit Singapore but once I looked into it further, there was no need, as I chose not to open a bank account in Singapore and I only wanted to open a foreign market trading account (not one for trading on the Singapore market).

The first step was to fill out the Individual/Joint Application Form. I had a few questions so I contacted DBS Vickers and they walked me through this 2-page form over the phone. Next I needed to sign a form which DBS Vickers provided which acknowledged I was a Canadian citizen residing outside of Canada. I also had to sign Standing Instructions for Foreign Markets for Clients Trading Online. Finally I signed a W-8BEN which is a United States Tax Withholding Form. In addition to the above mentioned forms, I needed to send a notarized copy of my passport. I sent these documents through registered mail to Singapore.

In the mail, two weeks later, I received a letter titled Online Trading Account Information (with Trading Representative) which asked me to register my trading account to accept Second Factor Authentication (2FA). After completing that simple process online, as directed in the letter, I waited two more days to receive, by mail, a new password. Two days after that I received the 2FA device. The next week I received my Registration Code.

What I thought was the final step in the process was transferring money from my Citibank account in Japan directly to DBS Vickers Security in Singapore. Since I was going to trade in both Canadian and US Dollars, I had to send two separate transfers. The detailed information on how to transfer money can be found on the DBS Vickers website. Although my bank charges a fee to send the money, DBS Vickers does not charge any fee to receive it.

I ran into a hiccup after I deposited money as I still was not allowed to trade. I am still not 100% sure why this happened but my DBS Vickers Trading Representative said that if I took the online SGX e-Learning System quiz I would instantly be qualified to trade. It took me about an hour to work my way through the tutorials and I passed the quiz with only two wrong answers (which proves it wasn’t a hard quiz, as I’m no genius).

In total, the process took about three weeks to set everything up. The DBS Vickers customer service department is fantastic. I phoned them at least five times when filling out the forms and they answered all the questions instantly. I am happily trading now and looking forward to the markets to take a downswing as I have another deposit to make in the near future.




I hope people are able to find this helpful.

Jon

 

 

 





About the author

andrew hallam

I'm a freelance finance writer, lucky enough to have been nominated as a finalist for two Canadian National Publishing Awards. I'm also the author of Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School, a book explaining how I became a millionaire on a teacher's salary, while still in my 30s. Working to empower people financially, I'm available to motivate and inspire people on basic retirement planning and index investing. I'm happy to comment on your questions, first, please read the Terms of Use.

Permanent link to this article: http://andrewhallam.com/2013/05/an-expat-canadian-in-japan-finds-a-way-to-invest/

55 comments

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  1. avatar
    Sasha

    Hi Andrew,

    So DBS Vickers is still a good option? In one of your articles you said the fees had gone up a lot. Is it still good compared to other companies?

    Also do you know anything about investing in ETFs with Charles Schwab?

    1. avatar
      Andrew Hallam

      Hi Sasha,

      Schwab has the lowest cost ETFs on the market, currently. They're excellent products.

      Yeah, DBS raised its commissions, and I was pretty upset about that. But…the other brokerages have less beneficial exchange rate spreads. Choose your poison. Having said that, brokerages in Singapore (when buying ETFs) are a million times better than the actively managed platforms that are so prolifically sold.

      Cheers,

      Andrew

  2. avatar
    T Dekyong

    Hi Andrew,

    I'm wondering if you have considered Saxo Capital Markets as your brokerage? They don't charge custody fees, etc. Just min US$15 commission. Or are they more risky because they're not a local brokerage?

    Many thanks,

    Dekyong

  3. avatar
    Sasha

    So I contacted DBS Vickers and unfortunately they can't help me. I contacted Vanguard in the UK and it seems I might be able to invest with them. I am going to contact Vanguard in the States as well, they can only say no.

    So now I might have Schwab and hopefully Vanguard UK. I would be putting in a lump sum and then adding to it monthly. I originally wanted to invest in index funds so I am thinking that Vanguard might be best.

    Does it make any sense to have money in 2 brokerage firms?

    And what are your thoughts on bonds at the moment? Should I just have some cash and indexes for now.

    Any advice?

    Thanks.

    1. avatar
      Andrew Hallam

      Sasha,

      You'll pay capital gains taxes if you invest in the UK, and Vanguard USA will say no. Call DBS Vickers back. They will allow you to do this, but they are filled with some ignorant reps that would rather say no than look into it. Do not give up on DBS Vickers…dozens in your boat have done it before you.

      Andrew

  4. avatar
    Sasha

    Hi Andrew,

    Schwab said I can invest with them, that is why I hoped that maybe Vanguard US would say yes too.

    DBS Vickers said it was because of my current location. However I will take your advice and try again.

  5. avatar
    Erin Belliveau

    Hi There,

    Wondering if you or some other Canadian (Ontario) could offer some advice. I have recently resigned from my position in Ontario. I have the opportunity to buy back 3 years of my OT pension. Is it better to follow through with the buy back option or would it be more profitable to invest as recommended on this site? Any insight would be appreciated.

    Erin

    1. avatar
      Andrew Hallam

      Hi Erin,

      I'm going to guess that your pension is a pretty good deal. But I don't know the specifics of it. If it's anything like the teacher's pension that I relinquished when moving overseas, then I would go for it and buy back the three years. It won't be cheap though!

  6. avatar
    Justin Graeme Jarman

    Hi Andrew
    Good to be back on your website after a hiatus. I am an international teacher in Beijing. I tried to get going with DBS VICKERS in December but unfortunately China and Taiwan are the 2 countries that they won’t accept notorized documents from, so I’m waiting until this summer to get out of the county to get things notarized abroad.
    I just read one of your blog posts that confused me. It said that ETFs are coming to HK and they are not in Singapore.
    As a 40 year old Canadian in Beijing, with some compiled savings sitting in the bank doing nothing, but nothing at all put in any sort of retirement/investments, would you suggest I go the way of your traditional DBS Vikers Singapore index fund investment model or should I consider HK instead?
    I love your stuff and I’ll pretty much take any advice you have to give me as gospel!
    Thanks a million!
    Graeme

  7. avatar
    Nick C

    Hi Andrew

    Great book and website with sometimes overwhelming information. I was following your plan with TD eseries ETF funds but then went abroad and TD changed my status to non resident. I will be working overseas for a significant period of time. I had to sign a W8BEN form and can no longer invest in those funds.

    Is it better to start thinking about opening up a DBS account like the poster or use the discount brokerage options of TD and just buy the correct indexes through stock purchases?

    I know there is a withholding tax, but saw another article explaining when that is only paid on dividends (not sure if that is correct, my mind is foggy, and you may have been talking about something else).

    1. avatar
      Andrew Hallam

      Hi Nick,

      Yes, the withholding taxes are on dividends only. You would have no capital gains taxes to pay if you moved your money to a place like Singapore. And your residency status would be solidly “non resident” without a financial brokerage in Canada. THe rules of non residency are foggy, even for accountants. But keeping few residential ties is important, and a brokerage in Canada counts as a residential tie that I (myself) don’t have the courage to keep. That’s why I keep my money in Singapore. This might help: http://andrewhallam.com/2013/05/an-expat-canadian-in-japan-finds-a-way-to-invest/

      Cheers,

      Andrew

  8. avatar
    Michelle

    Hi Andrew and everyone else reading this post

    I just (literally) got off the phone with DBS Vickers and they said that YOU MUST appear in person (Singapore) to open your DBS Vickers account. The reason is that they have changed the policy (as of April 2013) that people NEED to have a DBS Vickers Singapore BANK account before opening a trading account.

    So lucky for those of you who were able to do this before the policy change, but the lady on the phone was pretty sure that they have just changed the policy and you are required to open it in person. Apparently someone had sent in a fraudulent application hence the change in policy.

    If anyone has experienced anything different let me know… but it looks like I am spending a weekend in Singapore!

    Michelle

    1. avatar
      Andrew Hallam

      Thanks Michelle,

      Even easier, perhaps, would be signing up for TD International, based in Luxembourg. With them, you wouldn’t have to take a test…which you would have to do online to open the DBS Vickers account.

      Here’s the link: http://int.tddirectinvesting.com/en-gb/get-started/why-td-bank-international/expatriate-investors/

      Let me know how it goes.

      Andrew

      1. avatar
        RJB

        Just a word of caution about TD International in Luxembourg as this is in the “expat Canadian in Japan” thread.
        They do not allow residents of Japan to open brokerage accounts.

        1. avatar
          Shannon

          RE. Japan based ex-pats.

          Andrew, or anyone else that may know, has it been confirmed that those expats in Japan are not eligible to register for a TD Luxembourg trading account? If anyone here can confirm, I’d appreciate it. I just registered online but my application may be rejected if this is the case.

          Finally, what currency should we select as “base” currency on the application, it provides a list of currencies. I chose Canadian. I assume that this can be modified at some point later if I would like to change it.

          Thank you.
          Shannon

          1. avatar
            RJB

            As I implied earlier, I was rejected for being resident in Japan. I went part-way through the process of opening an account but when I called them with some questions I was informed that I was not eligible.
            I followed up with an email inquiry about eligibility and received the following reply:

            “TD Ameritrade is currently unable to open new accounts for clients with mailing and/or physical addresses in Japan. This is a result of a thorough legal review of established regulations in your country. We appreciate your interest in opening an account and wish you the best in your investment needs.”

            Their concerns must have been serious because there is some anecdotal evidence that not only did they stop accepting new applications, but they terminated existing accounts of investors resident in Japan. Some more info here:

            http://the-international-investor.com/2013/td-direct-uk-closing-nonresident-accounts
            http://the-international-investor.com/2011/uk-stock-broker-accounts-nonresidents
            (in the comments section)

            That was, however, six months ago, and it’s possible that conditions have changed. I would be interested to hear if anybody has any more recent information.

          2. avatar
            Andrew Hallam

            Thanks for sharing this Shannon. It does sounds like Japanese residents may need to take a trip to Singapore to open a brokerage account with DBS Vickers.

          3. avatar
            Andrew Hallam

            Or, if you’re Canadian, you may want to try a non resident brokerage account with TD Waterhouse, based in Toronto. I believe such an account can be opened online.

          4. avatar
            Jeffro

            NOTE to Canadians:
            According to a recent internet post on a financial blog, registering a Canadian non-resident brokerage account with TD Waterhouse in Canada may trigger a CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) ‘request to file’ for that tax year, leading to a mess of paper shuffling between the CRA, accountants, and TD to resolve.

      2. avatar
        Russel

        Anyone else try the TD International? I am thinking of trying it once I get my money out of Friends Provident.

      3. avatar
        Kelly

        Hi Andrew,

        I ended up going to Singapore and opening accounts with DBS Vickers (as I’ve written in a post in reply to Michelle’s post). I have not transferred any money into the accounts yet, as I am waiting for some documents in the mail.

        Do you think the TD International account a better way to go?

      4. avatar
        Michelle

        Hi Andrew and everyone

        Thanks for the information. I have successfully been able to open my TD Direct Investing account YAY! And it was quite simple and straight forward. It took a while on my part because I was also in the process of renewing my passports and then I needed to update my Thai visa and such. But when I finally got my notarised copy from the Embassy (which is super easy to do) I sent off all the documents. A week or two later, a call was made, the information confirmed and I received all the information I needed to get access to my account.

        So now all the fun stuff starts. I have been able do a little research and based on all the advice I’ve read throughout this blog I think I am going to go with the following…

        20% VCE Vanguard FTSE Canadian Index ETF
        20% VTI-N Vanguard Total Stock Market E.T.F. (which I believe is the US S&P 500 Index fund)
        20% VEA Vanguard FTSE Develop Mkt ETF
        40% VSB-T Vanguard Cdn Short Term Bond

        Thoughts?

        Michelle

        1. avatar
          Jeffro

          Dear Michelle,

          Thanks for sharing.

          I’m also a Canadian living overseas, looking to pull money out of high-fee, actively managed funds and into ETFs at TD International in Luxembourg.

          One question, and I’m assuming you’re a non-resident Canadian for tax purposes: What are your tax obligations to Canada or any other country, for maintaining an investment account at TD International in Luxembourg?

          Namaste : – )

          Jeffro

          1. avatar
            Michelle

            Hi Jeffro

            I believe that I would normally pay the 25% non-witholding tax on any interest gained on the investment… However if there is a tax treaty with the country that you reside in, then you might not have to pay the full 25%. I’m a little unsure of how that works – if someone has a better explanation please do!

            This might be a reason why I might NOT invest in the Canadian Index fund for the time being. I have no plans to go back to Canada in the immediate future, so I might go with someone else’s suggestion of keeping it simple.

            Good question, anyone else know the answer?

    2. avatar
      Kelly

      Hi Michelle,

      I experienced the same thing. So I went to Singapore for a few days at the end of August and opened both a bank account and a brokerage account. The bank account was opened straight away (I didn’t need to make an immediate deposit thought) and the brokerage account needed a few days to be approved. When you open the bank account they give you a DBS iB Secure Device (which I haven’t used yet, but I believe it generates codes that you need to log into your accounts) and you use the same device when accessing your brokerage account. I am now waiting to receive some documents in the mail so I can start trading :)

      Just a note: you have 2 options of bank account, a SGD account which you need to maintain $SGD5000 or a multicurrency account which you need to maintain $SGD3000 to avoid any fees. The fees are $2 for the SGD account compared to $7.50 for the multicurrency. I choose to take the multicurrency account because I would prefer invest the extra $2000!

    3. avatar
      Toby

      Hi Michelle and everyone else,

      I set my account up with TD Direct International several years ago. I am from New Zealand and resident in China when I set it up. It was easy to do. I filled in the paperwork and they opened the account right away, I do remember that they phoned me and warned me that stocks can fluctuate in price and that it was possible that I would lose money.

      Since opening the account I have never had a problem with it. I find it easy to use. Whenever I contact them by secure mail or by phone they reply/answer right away and are polite and efficient.

      I follow a similar strategy where I hold the following ETFs:

      VTI – Vanguard Total Stock Market. 30%
      VEA – Vanguard First World. 30%
      BSV – Vanguard Short Term Bond. 40%

      At this point I am a citizen of the world and I am not sure where I will retire. This portfolio will suit me fine wherever I end up living in the future. I keep thinking about changing the bond ETF to the iShares International government short term bind ETF – ISHG. I may do that at some point but want to avoid the selling and buying fees.

      I don’t know how much money you are investing but I will say that for me, three ETFs is enough. I try to add monthly to my portfolio and if I had more than three ETFs it would take a lot of work to try to keep it all in balance at the designated percentage weightings. You could get three ETFs by replacing VTI and VEA with VT, the Vanguard total world stock ETF. That is some feedback from the practical side of investing. Remember that the transaction fee at TD Direct is about $35 (depending on the exchange rate with the Euro) so if you are sending $3,000 or $4,000 per month to the account, you only want to do one transaction to minimise these fees. Perhaps you have oooodles of more cash to invest than that, then four ETFs maybe fine for you. That is a decision that you must make.

      One point, I am unsure what you mean by VTI-N. I assume you mean VTI. If you do then it is not a S&P500 ETF, it represents the whole USA stock market covering small cap, mid cap and large cap stocks. I would prefer a total stock market ETF than a S&P500 ETF myself.

      Good luck to you with your new account. I have had my account with TD Direct International for several years and it works like clockwork. I am very happy with it. I have posted several times about the account on another thread on this website.

      All the best with your investing.

      Toby

      1. avatar
        Michelle

        Hi Toby

        Great thanks for the advice! Helps a lot!

        Michelle

      2. avatar
        Vig Lacera

        I could not set up an account with TD International in Luxembourg. This is because my residential address is in Bangladesh, a ‘non-sanctioned’ country, according to TD. Rats. Will have to try DBS Vickers in Singapore unless somebody out there has a better idea.

        1. avatar
          Andrew Hallam

          I’m sorry to hear about this bit of craziness Vig. Thanks for posting it, and please keep me up to date on your progress with DBS Vickers.

  9. avatar
    David Benton

    Hi Andrew,

    I am considering making the trip to Singapore to open an account with DBS Vickers. However, in your post above you mention that it is not worth buying fewer than $3000 worth of ETFs.

    I am looking to invest around $300 to $500 each month, does this make the DBS Vickers ETFs route a bad option?

    If so, what is a better option of investment for this amount of money per month?

    Thanks,
    David

    1. avatar
      Andrew Hallam

      Hi David,

      The best option would be to save your money until you have a few thousand dollars to invest. There are options where the fees would be higher (with actively managed funds) but I don’t think you want to invest in those.

      Andrew

      1. avatar
        Tim Gascoigne

        I have just left DBS vickers today and did exactly what Kelly did above. Waiting for paperwork to be sent to KL.

        I am only looking to invest a lump sum and not make monthly contributions…is that possible? Or is it better to take the lump sum and just invest a portion of it each month. If I take the amount of money I am sending over from my canadian RBC account to my DBS Savings account and create a balance according to a couch potato philosophy is that ok? I am so new to this that I feel way over my head. Any advice would be appreciated!

        Thanks

        1. avatar
          Andrew Hallam

          Hi Tim,

          You can most certainly invest a lump sum and leave it. And the more money you can add over time, the better. Create that couch potato portfolio and you’ll have some solid diversification.

          Cheers,
          Andrew

  10. avatar
    VWJ

    Have any Japanese residents had any luck opening accounts anywhere besides DBS?

  11. avatar
    Mark Holmes

    How can a Canadian invest in a balanced fund like a Vanguard Life Strategies / Target Retirement fund? These don’t seem to be available through Vanguard Canada. Are there any funds that rebalance themselves available to Canadians? I understand that ING Canada has Streetwise funds, which are similar, but as an expat (living in Cairo and probably moving on to Asia in the next couple of years) I’m assuming they are not available to me. Actually ING won’t even accept overseas transfers.

    I understand the rules of rebalancing and keeping taxes/costs down, but I also know human nature might lead me to fiddle with the numbers. I would rather pay into one balanced fund and forget about it. Thoughts?

    1. avatar
      Andrew Hallam

      Unfortunately Mark, no such fund exists for Canadians. Here’s the link to TD International: http://int.tddirectinvesting.com/

  12. avatar
    Mark Holmes

    Also, I can’t find any reference to TD Canada’s Offshore account online. Is it some kind of secret?

  13. avatar
    Mark Holmes

    Thanks. Damn shame. They are available in the UK, why not Canada (I have a Canadian and UK passport, but plan to retire to Canada)? I know about the Luxembourg TD link, but there were a couple of people on here who signed up for TD offshore accounts in Canada. I was looking for the link to this account.

    Thanks again. Looking forward to the new book :-)

    Mark

    1. avatar
      Adam

      Hi Mark, I think you’re referring to td Waterhouse and setting up a non resident account. It’s not an offshore account like Luxembourg. You can open one by entering any td branch. With a notary, you might be able to open one from abroad if you have a td account…

  14. avatar
    Mark Holmes

    Yes, the TD Waterhouse accounts. I can’t find any info online. There is some info that says non-residents can open an account, but I can’t see any reference to ‘non-resident’ accounts. I could go the Luxembourg route, but would prefer to go with TD Waterhouse. Although, having said that, I don’t trust the Canadian government, so perhaps TD Luxembourg might give me more peace of mind.

    Is there a distinction between an offshore and non-resident account?

  15. avatar
    Vig Lacera

    I’d love to hear from some expats who’ve successfully bought index funds through TD International in Luxembourg. Easy to do?

    I’m a Canadian citizen but non-resident for tax purposes. Living overseas. Deciding between DBS in Singapore or TD Intern’l in Luxembourg.

    Thanks ; )

  16. avatar
    Jeffro

    DBS Vickers does indeed require a DBS bank account before they’ll open a brokerage account for you. I just called them.

    To apply you MUST travel to Singapore.

    According to their phone rep you will be notified on the spot if your application is accepted or rejected. The only official document needed to apply is a valid passport.

    I pressed and pressed the DBS Vickers Securities rep, hoping to apply online or through the post, but no dice.

    What a drag.

    For those expats who may wind up in Bangladesh: Set up your investment accounts BEFORE you come here.

  17. avatar
    Brett

    Hi all, I was recently introduced to this site to which I’m very grateful.
    I’m an Aussie but resident of Japan and have been trading through Charles Schwab in the US.
    It was pretty easy to open an account with them and I’ve been happy with their service even though I don’t have a lot in there currently.
    I’m currently sitting on some cash savings which are still in YEN but I wish to convert to another currency due to the poor outlook for YEN.
    In Japan I like using Shinsei bank for the ease of converting to other currencies and their rates seem reasonable especially for platinum level customers, plus there’s one free international transfer/month for such customers. (any better alternatives out there)
    Considering the weaker Yen going forward and taxes rising in Japan, I have been considering one of the wrap funds as the sales-rep tells of the tax advantages of it in the wrapper – I’m currently being sold the Generali lump sum bond which looks enticing but the fees are pretty high. Will all those fees outweigh the taxes I’ll incur going forward, I wonder?

    I think I’m better just paying my taxes and still have the flexibility of being able to draw my money when I want.

    Now, after reading through this site, I now thinking to make a trip to Singapore to open DBS bank and trading account. Before I do so, I wonder how it can be tax free? Won’t I still need to declare my dividend earnings and any capital gains to the Japanese tax authorities at tax time? As they say there are two certainties in life, death and taxes!

    1. avatar
      Andrew Hallam

      Brett,

      If you can open the account in Singapore, you won’t have to pay capital gains taxes. Whatever you do, stay away from Generali. Do some research online and you will see why.

      An account with Saxxo bank (Singapore) would give you access to more markets than DBS Vickers, and you could buy ETFs from non U.S. exchanges, thereby bypassing the eventuality of paying U.S. estate taxes upon your death.

  18. avatar
    Shannon

    Andrew,

    Does the Saxxo Bank benefit of not paying U.S. estate taxes upon death also exist for the TD Luxembourg International brokerage services? Also, setting up the TD Luxembourg account seems slightly complicated, however, I’m just investigating it and will no for sure soon.

    TD International Luxembourg brokerage service have told me that they do not permit applicants who are residents of Japan. However, the representative I spoke with said that there are plans to also offer international banking services, not just off shore discount brokerage services, in the future. So there are some changes coming in the future for TD Luxembourg, however, I’m not sure how / if this will positively affect Japan based investors’ options.

  19. avatar
    Justin

    Hi Andrew
    It has been a while since you posted with these recommended ETFs. Do you still recommend these 4 if I start investing today or is there anything better on the market now?
    VCE = Canadian index
    VTI = U.S. Index
    VEA = International Index
    VSB = Canadian bond index
    Thank you
    Justin

  20. avatar
    Jos

    Hi everyone – What an endeavour….

    I’m starting from square one (or two). I’ll be moving to Japan in a few months and only have a few thousand dollars on TD e-series. I just spoke to TD and they tell me I will not be able to purchase as a non-resident.

    Singapore seems like the place to be as capital gains in Canada is, well, higher than 0. Thus, it also seems that the best thing to do is to sell all investments in Canada and move them to Singapore. (Any objections to that?)

    Also, if I understand correctly going the Singapore way means investing via ETFs, correct?

    Thanks all!

  21. avatar
    Indira

    I am a Canadian living in UAE, I have a property in Florida and I was thinking of investing the 1000 US dollars I make from rental (after expenses, taxes) . I was thinking of opening a Vanguard account. Do you know what sort of taxes I would be paying?.
    I dont really see an easy way to invest unless you use a company that charges high fees (such as FF and Zurich). Even If I open an account in Singapore as suggested, I would lose 2% on international transfer, currency losses and transfer fees.
    Any advice would be appreciated

    1. avatar
      Andrew Hallam

      A 2% transfer fee is nothing, compared to a 1% annual expense fee on the account’s value. You would be shocked to see the comparative math. With Zurich and company, you would pay 3.5% or more in annual expense fees. As a Canadian, you cannot open an account with Vanguard. But you can purchase Vanguard ETFs from Saxo. Don’t be too concerned about commissions and transfer costs. Annual account fees dwarf them substantially.

  22. avatar
    David

    Hi,

    I am a British expat living in Thailand and desperate to get started investing as per Andrew’s strategies in the book. I’ve been checking out companies who I could open an account with but not getting very far.

    Any expats in Thailand out there who can recommend a decent (cheap!) brokers?

    Many thanks,
    David

    1. avatar
      Andrew Hallam

      Hi David,

      The answer to your question depends on how much money you have to invest. If you have $700K, or you’re a sweet talker with $500k and a tendency to save plenty of money, you could use a great firm called Creveling & Creveling.

      Otherwise, you could open an account with Saxo Bank, even if you live in Thailand, and wire your money to one of their locations. I have some information on them in this article: http://andrewhallam.com/2014/01/expat-index-investors-should-duck-u-s-estate-taxes/

      I hope this helps.
      Andrew

      1. avatar
        David

        Hi Andrew,

        Many thanks for reply – I hadn’t considered Saxo so am speaking to them now about opening an account.

        I did speak to DBS in Singapore, and one point of interest for expats in Thailand, is that you can take the relevant documents to one of the DBS Vickers offices in Thailand for signature verfication, and they can then mail onwards to Singapore. Therefore, no need for notarisation or personal visit to Singapore required to open an account.

        Thanks,
        David

  23. avatar
    Rob

    I’m an expat Canadian teacher who has been non-resident from Canada for 22 years now. After an initially disastrous experience with Royal Skandia (offshore Isle of Man), I have been extremely happy with Charles Schwab in the US. Their service has been excellent, no fees, free ATM withdrawals anywhere in the world, cheques, platinum VISA debit card. I do not have a bank account anywhere — just the Schwab brokerage account. I pay withholding on dividends and interest (the rate depends on the country I am living in and tax treaties between the US and that country). Overall, I would highly recommend Schwab as a painless way to invest as long as you are comfortable doing it yourself.

    1. avatar
      Andrew Hallam

      Rob,

      You are, unfortunately, setting your heirs up to pay heavy U.S. estate taxes upon your death by using Schwab, a U.S. based brokerage. Ideally, you should also avoid all ETFs that trade on the U.S. market. That doesn’t mean you can’t get U.S. exposure. Here’s a post you will likely find helpful. http://andrewhallam.com/2014/01/expat-index-investors-should-duck-u-s-estate-taxes/

      Cheers,
      Andrew

      1. avatar
        Rob

        Thanks very much for your reply, Andrew. I must admit, I had naively never even considered that possibility. Reading through the comment thread of the post you sent was highly informative. I am in my 40′s and have a joint-tenant account at Schwab with my wife. I suppose if we both simultaneously get hit by a bus or eaten by a crocodile (distinct possibilities where we live) our kids would lose a lot to the US government. We have about $1.5 million with Schwab, all in individual stocks. I’m now leaning toward opening a TD Waterhouse non-resident account when I go back to Canada this summer. The commission rates and extra fees of the TD International seem sky high. Hopefully, this is a reasonable plan?! Again, thank you for your reply.

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