Zurich International, Friends Provident and Generali Vision Have Costly Kissing Cousins

More stories about exploited expatriate investors are starting to hit the news.

zurich warningHere’s another shocker from the South China Morning Post.

It’s themed similarly to the articles I’ve written about Zurich International and Friends Provident-sold products. Advisors selling these products as panaceas (for their commission-based needs) should be hit where it counts: in their own wallets.

I’ve agreed to write another book for John Wiley & Sons… this time about expat investing.

It’s going to be simply written, educational and I’m hoping the book’s consequential sales hit unscrupulous salespeople hard enough scuttle their commissions… by educating the public.





Andrew Hallam

I’m a financial columnist for Canada’s national paper, The Globe and Mail, as well as for AssetBuilder, a financial service firm based in Texas. I’m also the author of Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School (2nd Ed. Wiley 2017) and The Global Expatriate’s Guide To Investing: From Millionaire Teacher to Millionaire Expat (Wiley 2015). My mission is to educate, motivate and inspire people on basic retirement planning and best practices for investing, using evidence-based strategies. I'm happy to comment on your questions. However, please read the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and the Comments Policy.

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50 Responses

  1. DIY Investor says:

    Expat book is much needed. I find that expats have to be very persistent in opening up new accounts and sadly they get hit in some cases with outrageous fees when closing accounts. Your book will really help them when they get started!

    If any of your readers are interested we are doing a low key online book discussion of Millionaire Teacher at the library system in Columbia Maryland as a means to increase financial literacy.

    The link to the supporting blog is http://millionaireteacheronlinestudy.blogspot.com/

    It is the first ever online book discussion and commenters are very welcome.

  2. Sasha says:

    Do you know anything about the Alexander Beard Group?

    http://www.abg.net

    Thank you.

    • I don’t, but I think you should be cautious before investing with them. Ask how the advisors get paid. Ask if you can withdraw money at any time without penalty? Ask if the fees (including unit trust expense ratios and account fees) amount to more than 1.5% per year. You should be paying less than that, and you should be able to take money out at any time without penalty. Please find out the answer to that last question especially, and feel free to let me know.

      Cheers,
      Andrew

      • Sasha says:

        Hi Andrew,

        Thanks for your thoughts and advise. At the moment we have lots of different financial reps at my school salivating at the thought of getting big commissions from us.

        My school invests money into a pension plan for us which we have to match but they don’t accept all plans/investment companies. I already have index funds, thanks to you and am in the process of finding out if the school thinks it is okay. I don’t know what makes one company acceptable to them and the other not acceptable.

        There is also a group called Raymond James. Have you heard of them?

        I have contacted a group called Trinity Holdings which we found out about through Search Associates.

        I am checking the groups out just in case the school does not accept my index funds as suitable.

        Kind regards,
        Sasha

        • Napes says:

          Bit late to the party on this one, but i have had experience with Trinity Holdings. dating back to 2012. In short, stay away from them. As a newbie investor they convinced me to go for Generali Vision, say no more. Happy to take my cash, but after discussing a 70/30 weighting on portfolio risk, they just lumped the cash into 2 funds 70% in one and 30% in another, no sign of diversification anywhere!! When i raised the issue with them, they just said they were more interested in large lump sum investing, not smaller regular investments. Needless to say we stopped using them, then saw the light re: Generali, and surrendered. Money now goes into a couch potato portfolio through TD Direct all thanks to the information on here and Andrew’s books.

  3. Pelle says:

    For those who want to help us increase the pressure on Generali – someone has started an online petition over at this site:

    http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/generali-international-annul-vision-contracts-and-return-all-funds-at-current-market-prices

    My beef is with Generali, but for anyone with Zurich, FPI etc. why not start another?

  4. Sasha says:

    By the way I am not American and have managed to open an account with Charles Schwab. Took a bit of time to set up but they were really helpful. The paper work is simple but they need to do checks first before they let you have the account. It’s up and running now and very easy to use.

    • Andrew Hallam says:

      Nice work Sasha. What’s your nationality and where are you currently living? You might consider eventually opening an account with TD International, based in Luxembourg. Through them, you could purchase ETFs off the Canadian stock market (although commissions are higher than Schwab) but if you grow the account into the millions, you won’t have to worry about anyone paying U.S. estate taxes on the money upon your death.

      • Sasha says:

        Hi Andrew,

        I got a brochure today from the Alexander Beard group. I am no longer interested in joining them but thought I would post information on the companies which come to my school just in case it might help someone.

        One thing that I found interesting is that they said you can easily transfer your funds if you have an ECIS Zurich Plan. I didn’t even know this existed. Maybe you should give people from ECIS and Search a copy of your book.

        Alexander Beard offer a plan called International School Retirement Plan. The charges are below, taken from their brochure.

        1. A one off set up fee of £250, €300 Euros or $500 (annually adjustable for exchange rate fluctuations)

        2. A charge of 5% of each premium paid

        3. An annual plan charge of 1.5% of the value of the units or cash equivalent within the chosen fund

        4. One free switch per calendar year is included and subsequent switches are charged at 0.3% of the value of the amount switched subject to a minimum of €50 and a maximum of €150 (or equivalent). Switching charges do not apply when the automatic switching option is selected.

        Terribly high prices and clients have to make a special request to find out where the money from each fund is invested.

        Sasha

        • Thanks Sasha,

          These sorts of platforms exist because most people don’t know any better. It’s unfortunate when well-meaning school administrators embrace these things district-wide. Counting the expense ratios associated with the Unit Trusts sold by Alexander Beard, annual costs are running very close to 4% per year. This is very unfair. And it amazes me that they also charge a 5% commission to buy. I’ve looked at their prospectus, and I’ll admit, it’s very upsetting. Do you know if they penalize investors for withdrawing funds early?

          • Sasha says:

            Hi Andrew,

            I have added a few bits from the brochure below:

            “A member who leaves the employer for whatever reason (resignation, dismissal, etc.) may keep the rights vested in his/her individual retirement account at the date of departure.

            If the account ceases to be funded by new contributions, benefits will continue to accrue under the same conditions.

            A staff member leaving the employer, whatever the cause, is allowed to continue subscribing to the retirement account or to transfer the available
            savings to an alternative plan.

            What happens if I stop paying?

            1. There are no early surrender penalties or charges applied to the full value of the fund at any time should the plan member die.

            2. There are no early surrender penalties or charges applied to the full value of the fund should the plan transfer out to another recognized and authorized
            pension arrangement (see section ‘Transfer Options”).

            3. Should a plan member discontinue or reduce contributions within the first 10 years of the plan then the whole fund remains invested until maturity.”

            I must say I don’t fully understand it.

            1 and 2. Are there surrender penalties applied to part of the fund if a member dies?

            3. Does that mean you can’t actually get your money back in the first 10 years?

            I guess this is how AB makes it a bit hazy for the investor. Unfortunately there will be teachers meeting with them from my school.

            By the way Raymond James also visited. There are lots of teachers with them already. Their fee structure is different to what you quoted in your book but it adds up to around the same or maybe more.

            On one of the many pages of information I was given which has graphs comparing their funds, it reads,

            “Returns would have been lower had sales charges, of up to 6% of the net asset value, or any commissions, fees or other charges that your financial intermediary may charge been reflected.”

            On the page about their Global Equity Fund, it states,

            “Benchmark: MSCI World Index measures the stock markets in the developed world. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.”

            Sasha

          • Thanks for this Sasha,

            It’s most certainly an ILAS product that would hit anyone redeeming money before the duration of the plan…..unless they were dead, of course!

            With Raymond James, so much depends on the rep. But I would take Raymond James over these ILAS groups. Keep in mind, that’s like saying I would rather chew dirt than decomposing vegetables.

  5. Sasha says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I am British and am in Tanzania. I did contact TD International but signed up with Schwab because their fees were lower and they also called me after I sent an enquiry by email. I will look into TD International again.

    Thank you.

    • Vig Lacera says:

      Sasha,

      My wife’s school, unfortunately, mandates that all teachers must sign into a policy with Alex Beard Group. Signing is part of the work contract.

      I agree, their fees are monstrous.

  6. Han says:

    Hi Andrew,
    I’ve been reading your blog with great interest and am wondering if I could get your opinion on a few things. I am a bit confused! I am British but live in Singapore and am totally new to investing. I think i want to start small ($2,000) with ETFs on the US stock market. I have read on your blog that DBS Vickers have drastically hiked their commission fees and that going for a US broker like Etrade is a better idea, esp as the US markets have the most choice anyway. But then I read somewhere else that you then have to set up a USD account (I already have a savings acct with DBS) in order to receive any money you make. There is also the issue of paying tax on it, here or via the US.
    Would be really grateful for your thoughts!

  7. Liam says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I am a British expat teacher living in Indonesia. I’ve read your book and it is fantastic.

    Given the fee changes with DBS Vickers, can you help explain how these particular charges would affect a trading account over a period of time?

    Knowing all of this, is DBS Vickers still the best option for investing for someone not resident in Singapore? Or is there an alternate way that you recommend?

    Thanks in advance!

    Liam

  8. Green says:

    I am a 26 year old American living and working in Korea. I just finished reading your book, and I have a couple of questions.

    Have you received any comments from teachers living in Korea about which investment companies they’re using? I am having a really hard time finding any answers from anyone living in Korea.

    Second, I only have around $3000 to invest right now. I have looked into Vanguard Target Retirement funds which offer an “all-in-one” approach. This would give me a diversified fund, plus the minimum is $1000. However, I am interested in managing my own account, and I’m not sure I would be able to do that in the future if I initially jump into one of the Vanguard TR funds. What do you think I should do?

    I know there is a lot of emphasis on diversification, but for now… would it be foolish to dump the starting $3000 into an index fund, until I can afford to buy a bond index fund a few months later?

    I really need the advice.

    Thanks!

  9. Toby says:

    Green,

    I also live and work in Korea. I have an account with TD Direct International in Luxembourg. I send money there and add to my portfolio which consists of three index funds:

    30% Vanguard Total Stock Mart – VTI
    30% Vanguard First World Index – VEA
    40% Vanguard Short Term Bond Index – BSV

    With all the fees I would not make transactions unless I had $3,000 to spend.

    If I were in your shoes I would just get started by making one equity index purchase now even tough you have no bonds. Then save up again and b the bond ETF in a few months.

    If you do not want to send your money overseas, then contact E*Trade Korea. They can open an account for you. I previously contacted them and they were happy to open the account for me. However, I did not open it in the end and decided to go with TD Direct International.

    Like you, I prefer to have control over my portfolio rather than just using a Target Date Fund.

    I also have a very small account at a local brokerage which allows trading on the Korean market. I follow a similar strategy where I index and complement this by adding some individual companies. For a very small account the fees are lower but as the account gets big, the fees at TD Direct International are better. The account really is very very small.

    Toby

    • Green says:

      Hi Toby,

      Thanks for the response.

      Would I be able to open an account with TD Direct International as an American?

      Do you have experience buying ETFs in Korea?

      How long have you been living in Korea for? I have been here for a little over three years… Not sure when I will leave.

      • Toby says:

        Hi Green,

        As to opening an account with TD International, I do not know if you can or cannot. I recommend that you ask them. They may have some restrictions for different nationalities. Alternatively, try DBS Vickers in Singapore. Andrew Hallam uses them and could give you more feedback.

        As to ETFs in Korea, I have been using ETFs in Korea for a couple of years. They work in the same way as you would expect. I mainly use the KODEX 200 ETF symbol 069500 (it tracks the KOSPI 200). There are many ETFs trading on the Korean Stock Exchange. For a complete list, check out the Korean Stock Exchange website:

        http://engetf.krx.co.kr/m02/m0201/JHPEEF0201.jsp

        As I said in my previous post, my account in Korea is very small. My main account is with TD Direct International in Luxembourg.

        Toby

  10. Vig Lacera says:

    Dear Andrew,

    Just wanted to say that I’m enjoying your book immensely. I’m a total greenhorn in investing. Only recently did my wife mention that she bought three Zurich policies over 10 yrs ago while teaching in SE Asia. I’m in charge of our finances so I did some web searching and lo and behold, found your site.

    My wife (before she became my wife) signed on for a total of 3 policies with Zurich. We are no longer contributing (stopped in mid-2011).

    I have read plenty of posts on here trashing Zurich. I really knew nothing about them (or investing, for that matter) so I decided to quickly edumacate myself with as much jargon-free material as possible.

    Here’s what I discovered about Zurich and our policies:

    1- Their website and user interface, for the most part, sucks. Links do not work or are missing.
    2- They do not respond promptly to emails. (Going on 6 days without a reply to urgent questions).
    3- They use an extraordinary amount of obfuscatory language. Especially within their fees structure. (This is either intentional or their technical writers haven’t learned to never use jargon when your audience are probably laymen/financial idiots.)

    FEES:

    – Btwn 2008-2012 one of our policies averaged approx 7.25% annually after fees, EXCLUDING the 10% ‘tax penalty’ on early WDs, other taxes, and a yearly admin gouge (I mean, fee) of $30.

    According to what you wrote in your book, this yield is far below market return on indexes, yes? I’m trying to get full data on our other 2 policies – if only Zurich would respond to my email.

    What do you think of this?

    Thank you for your time.

    • Vig,

      To answer your last question, much depends on exactly when the policy was started in 2008, how often it was added to, how much was added etc. The markets don’t just rise in cue by 10% per year. Since late 2008, markets have risen about 14% per year. Since early 2008, they have risen about 6% per year. If your wife added money in 2009 (markets hit a low that March) you could have an annual return exceeding 18%. Bottom line is this: on a dollar weighted basis, your wife’s money is as likely to have beaten the market as an F1 car driven by your mother, will win the next F1 race with three flat tires. Not impossible…but not very likely.

  11. mattschnetter says:

    Hi Andrew,
    Not sure if you received my last comment, however my wife and I unwisely ‘invested’ in a generali account with Portfolio Builders in Singapore, and we’re closing it for all the standard reasons, but I was wondering if there are any techniques/leverage available to maximize the amount we can get back (like can we avoid certain fees). Thanks so much

    • Mattschnetter,

      It would be best to work with your advisor on this one. He or she should be able to tell you how much you can withdraw without paying a penalty. Then you’ll have to determine whether keeping the remaining amount in (until you can withdraw free of penalty) is worth it. Use a compound interest calculator and compare two compounding sums–one compounding at about 8% per year and the other at about 4.5% per year. The smaller percentage would be the result of the drag on fees that the account would have, over a leaner portfolio (roughly 3.5% per year in extra fees). After doing such a calculation, you may choose to cut your losses…or not.

  12. Pelle says:

    Hi Mattschnetter,

    There are a bunch of Generali International victims getting together to sue generali over misrepresentation and willful obscurantism. I posted a link to the online Generali petition here earlier, there is also a facebook group for the same purpose. i don’t have the link here, but you should be able to find or google it easily under “Generali petition”.

    Happy new year 🙂

    • Kailyn says:

      Hi Pelle and others,

      I am just starting to get into the game here and sadly just signed on with Generali for a ten year contract in November before finding out all of this more relevant investment information (and am still working on fully informing myself).

      I am trying to research now as to what I can do to best move myself forward. I am obviously not even finished the first year of my contract but I would ideally like to withdraw. My contract states an “initial period” of 13.2 months and I am still within that so I am not sure if that helps my case? I am looking through the documentation but really can’t find a straightforward answer as to how much money I will lose by withdrawing before my contract is up. Has anyone gone through the same thing that can help me? I would either be looking at taking it all out (about $4000) or if that is not possible then just stopping my premium payments for the remaining nine years. Any recommendations or directions to information would be helpful.

      – Kailyn

      • Toby says:

        I previously owned a Zurich Vista policy and cancelled it about two years in. I lost $10,000. The decision about how you handle this situation is yours alone to make. If I was in the same situation as you I would cancel the policy immediately and take the loss, even if the loss is the whole amount you paid in. The more time you spemd in the policy, the more money you will loose. I run a passive portfolio now and it is fantastic. I have complete freedom. I could sell all my portfolio anytime I want. With the only fees being the transaction fees. I am two years into this my profit is more than I lost selling out of the Zurich. Additionally, I have complete freedom over my account now. You can’t beat that feeling.

        One way to look at it is that you aid $4,000 for a college course on how to invest. Finding and posting on this website was the exam. You passed with flying colours so now the course fees are due.

        You need to make your own decision. I did and I (and my family) are so happy we made the change to our ETF portfolio.

        All the best with your investing.

        Toby

  13. Ashic says:

    Hello Sir,
    I am a 24 year old Indian first time investor. I am at the moment living in the U.A.E. My work will take me to europe for some years and to far east (Malaysia- Singapore) for some more years. In light of these regular changes in my locations, could you suggest some general advice as to start invest small sums of money in mutual funds ( index funds ). I’m looking for vanguard index funds in particular.

    Note: i have talked to many ” financial advisors” I have come to the same conclusion as you, they are all actually sales men trying either to sell generali, or zurich or some other funds for expats which are way too expensive.

    I have come to you, because I think you are trustworthy.

    I am eager to hear from you

    Regards,
    Ashic

  14. Kailyn says:

    Hello Toby,

    Thank you for the positive words of encouragement. After attempting to email my SCI rep with less-than clear responses a few more times, I have decided to pull my funds and chalk that money up to lesson learned. I have been trying to research and think that setting up a non-resident TD Waterhouse account in Canada will be the best bet for me this summer. From this forum and also the Canadian Couch Potato website, what I think I understand is that because I will be investing a small amount to start with (perhaps 4-5000), I would be best to go with index funds over ETFs.

    I have found the Tangerine balanced fund on the couch potato website (http://www.tangerine.ca/pdfs/en/Tangerine_Balanced_EN.pdf)

    but I also know that there were some recommendations on here for index investments for Canadians however now I have been clicking from blog post to blog post and cannot find it. Can anyone point me in the right direction? I am unsure if I can purchase the TD e-series as a non-resident.

    Thanks, Kailyn

    • Kailyn, You can open an account with TD Waterhouse (non resident) and buy ETFs, which will cost far less than the e-Series products (or the Tangerine indexes, which you wouldn’t be able to purchase anyway). You could build a low cost portfolio costing as little as 0.12% per year. Check out the ETFs on Dan’s Canadian Couch Potato site. I’m sorry my book won’t be out until the fall. But it’s going to be a huge help to you.

      Cheers,
      Andrew

      • Kailyn says:

        Hi Andrew,

        Thanks for the speedy response. I will make sure to keep an eye out here and get your book as soon as it comes out. Maybe I can open the account in the summer but only make a minimal deposit if it’s all available online and wait until your book comes out. Regardless I’ll keep researching!

        So a question about your response. I thought I had read that index is better than ETFs if you have less than $50 000 to invest. I do not have that much so will I still be okay investing in ETFs and balancing once or twice a year?

        Also if I do go ahead with that I have been looking at recommended ETFs and have come up with something like this:

        (HXT) – 25%
        (HXS) or VUN – 25%
        HBB (Canadian bond swap index) – 25%
        VEA – 25%

        Any thoughts? Cheers!

    • Hi Kailyn,

      If you do want to open a non resident account with TD Waterhouse, I believe they now charge $9.99 for trades regardless of account size. That swings things more in the favor of lower cost ETF portfolios. That said, please double check. It might be RBC that offers that. I was on both sites yesterday and I can’t recall which had the $9.99 trades, regardless of account size.

      Andrew

  15. Carmen says:

    Hello,

    I invested on generali vision scheme in 2010 and now is coming to a 5 year maturitycompletion, what I see on my online account is a lesser amount than the one i initially invested, (stock market fluctuation, I understand that part), but since my scheme is coming to a completion would I get anything else than this amount I’m seeing…. like interests %, or anything else? Because I find it hard to believe that they have kept my money for 5 years and I get no returns from them? I am learning about investments now, but 5 years ago I knew nothing about it. Please help. I’m in Hong Kong.

    Carmen

    • Hi Carmen,

      I’m very sorry to hear about your experience. It would actually have been difficult NOT to have made money in the stock markets over the past five years. The U.S. stock market has gained 78% overall during the past five years. The global market has gained 36.8%. If you measured such growth in Euros, the returns would have been much higher. These returns I gave you are measured in USD.

      This is what likely happened with your money. Your Generali advisor was very interested in making his or her commission. To sign you up, he or she likely showed you charts of funds that had recently done very well. He or she should have built you a globally diversified portfolio. But to entice you to sign up, he tried selling you on some select funds that had done well in the recent past. Those funds may have been gold funds or emerging market funds. He or she likely had no exposure (or not much) to British, European or U.S. stocks. If someone had created a knuckleheaded portfolio that wasn’t diversified among global markets, then yes, there is a remote possibility that they would not have made money over the past five years. But even then, that would have been tough to do! Your account’s high fees, unfortunately, looked after the rest.

      I am so sorry to hear about this. But the good news is that you now have this money back, correct? At the top of my website, I have listed many books that I think you would find helpful.

      Andrew

      • Carmen says:

        Andrew,

        Thank you so much for you reply and your info, I will definitely buy your book! My investment 5 year maturity expired today, I haven’t received any email from the company yet, will they contact me or do I need to contact them,…. sorry for such silly questions but I have no experience in this, and I can see the obvious here, they take advantage of people like me… I am so upset, reading your post have open my eyes and ears.

        Thanks again!

  16. Dave says:

    Hi Andrew, I live in Canada and after reading your book Millionaire teacher i have decided to start investing. I don’t have lot of money to invest at the moment.
    Is tangerine etf’s good I want to make automated monthly transfer.
    Buying vanguard from questrade i have to pay commission every time I make a purchase.
    Please suggest.
    Thanks

    • Hi Dave,

      If you open an account with TD Waterhouse, you can buy TD’s e-Series funds without paying a commission. THey have lower expense ratios than the Tangerine products.

      Cheers,
      Andrew

  17. Frances says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Thankfully I stumbled across your website when I decided to google Zurich Futura product. I met with our financial advisor this week and he is trying to sell us this product for my husband who is 46 at a monthly premium of approx US$2500. Whole of life cover for $1million with family income for $30000 annually for next 14 years. Until I googled this I did trust him but now I’m not so sure.

    I have just downloaded your books and have started reading them already! I am now determined to not waste anymore money on these overpriced products. Obviously I have to finish reading before I know what to do but we also have a FPInt product ‘Premier’ that is just over 3 years in with 12 remaining. We pay $800 a month into this. I don’t know if we should stop payments now as I know I can take a payment holiday without penalty. The charges on this product say: 1.5 % of value of initial units per quarter & USD6 per month. I recently got a statement from the advisor valuing it at 29730 with our premiums paid in at 28000, I would have expected this to be worth more at this stage? I don’t want to waste more money on it if I can stop now…

    ANy thoughts welcomed 🙂

    Thanks

  18. darien says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Much thanks for your guidance so far. I have a question (bet you never hear that one).
    I hold VWRD and IGLO with Saxo. When I need to add/buy more shares in a fund, do I go through the same procedure as when I initially bought?

    I did that and it shows that I have 4 Stocks. My understanding is that I still have 2 Stocks, but now have more shares at differing costs?

    Excuse the simpleton question, but just needed some assurance.

    Warm regards,
    Darien

  19. Kendall says:

    Hello!

    Your book has been a life saver as just about every person has said so far! I am ready to start investing on my own but have a Generali account that I’m figuring out what to do with. I can either withdraw 3800 and keep the rest in for the next 8 years but stop making payments, or surrender the whole policy and put nearly 5000 into my new investment strategy. Right now Generali says it has me paying 1.5% in fees. I know they must be charging me more, but I’m not sure how exactly to ask them to fess up to all the fees. I know of three different charges so far (account maintenance fee, program management fee, and expenses of the underlying investments) Are these the only fees? How can I catch them and really make them tell me what they are charging me?

    Thank you so much for all of your help, I really appreciate it!

    Kendall

    • Hi Kendall,

      You are being charged at least 3.5% per year. Generali is likely just quoting you the single annual fee, not including establishment charges and underlying fund fees. The fund fees, on their own, are likely higher than 1.75%. But don’t get too hung up on getting Generali to fess up. That won’t do you any good. You have to make a decision whether to cut your losses or not. Use the 3.5% annual drag when doing the mathematical comparison. Overall, you are paying at least that. Please trust me on that one.

      Andrew

  20. Kendall says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Thank you for such a quick response, I really appreciate it! I am hoping you can help me with one more thing if possible. I am trying to open up a Charles Schwab account. Unfortunately I reside in Ukraine and they said they cannot open an account with me if my main residence is in Ukraine. I’m an American citizen, I file my taxes here, and I would be wiring money from my bank account in the US but unfortunately they said that is not possible. Do you have any other suggestions of where to go or what to do? Also, I just found out that the Roth Ira that I had set up through Scottrade years before, which I only was able to contribute to for a little bit, apparently can be closed if I have lived outside of the States for more than 6 months, which I have. I don’t know what this means. I don’t have a lot of money in it, but if it closes, do I lose all the money? Do I lose it and then pay taxes? Any help you could give would be amazing.

    Thank you so much,

    Kendall

    • Hi Kendall,

      The rumour mill that told you about IRA is incorrect. You will not lose that money. Feel secure knowing that you can keep it where it is, for many years to come.

      To open an account with Schwab, give them a U.S. address: a brother’s, sister’s mother’s etc.
      If you would like further help with this, and would like a firm that can help you open an account, you could use AssetBuilder. http://www.assetbuilder. They accept U.S. expat clients.

      I have mentioned other options in my book, The Global Expatriate’s Guide To Investing. http://bit.ly/globalexpat

      Cheers,
      Andrew

  21. Kendall says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I’m so sorry to keep being a nuisance! One last thing if possible please! I looked into Assetbuilder and do not have the 50,000 to open with them. I understand about opening an account with Vanguard and Charles Schwab using a U.S. address. However, on both Vanguard and Charles Schwab, they ask for an employee address. Like I said, my money will be coming from the U.S. bank, I’m a U.S. citizen, and I file taxes in the States. Should I just put unemployed for now? I feel uncomfortable but I’m not sure what else to do. I saw in the book Raymond James Financial for expat teachers but I really don’t want to pay the fee for something I can do myself! (As you have given me the courage to do so!)

    Thank you so much for all of your help and support!

    Kendall

  22. Ben says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I too have fallen prey to generali vision. About 3 years ago I was sold a 25 year vision plan. I recently discovered if I don’t finish the 25 years, I have to pay a huge surrender fee.

    I was wondering if your knew the following:
    1. If this product was sold to you in a country where Generali don’t have permission to do business, do you think it is possible to declare the contract voif and recoup the money?

    This policy was sold to me in Korea and I am pretty sure they don’t have permissio to do business in this country.

    2. I am very close to the end of my compulsory monthly payment period. Can I just complete that, stop all further payments to them, then recoup the full value of my investment when the plan matures? I.e. they will not charge me lots of administration fees as I have completed the plan.

    Thank you for any help you can provide.

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