How AES International (in Dubai) Will Build You A Portfolio Of Index Funds


I get it!

Most investors don’t want to invest their own money.  They would much rather leave the task to somebody else. If it’s the right kind of firm, that could make sense.

If you’re a non-American, I recommend just five firms.  Why?  They build low cost portfolios of index funds. They’re backed by evidence, not commission hungry rhetoric. 




Annual Portfolio Management Fee

Minimum Required

Contact Information

AES International
(only use the Dubai office)




Index Fund Solutions

(Mark Ikels: Singapore)




Creveling & Creveling 
(Chad & Peggy: Thailand)




(Canadians only)

0.35% to 0.6%



Satis Asset Management 
(British only)


(drops after first million GBP)

500,000 GBP

+44 (0)20-3272-0120


The firm I want to focus on is AES International.

To date, they are the only fair investment firm that’s based in the Middle East.  They also require less money to open an account than most of the other top firms.  Currently, their account minimum size is $75,000 USD.  But CEO, Sam Instone, says the firm will soon be lowering that.

Mr. Instone was the leading expert who was profiled in the BBC Panorama documentary, Who Took My Pension?

He blew the top off the massive fees that are charged by most British pensions. Too many, he says, aren’t properly regulated. Unfortunately, these are the most common platforms that expats buy. Instead, they should invest in a diversified portfolio of index funds. 

AES International charges 1.2 percent to have such an account built and managed. 

If we add the hidden costs of the portfolios’ ETFs (known as tracker funds or index funds) the total annual costs come to less than 1.35 percent.

Most non-American expats pay three times as much.  What’s more, most can’t sell before a predetermined date. 

AES International explains their philosophy in a series of videos.  They’re brilliantly composed.

If you’re looking for an investment firm, I strongly recommend AES International. 

Whether you live in the Middle East, Europe or SouthEast Asia, you could use such a firm. 

I’ve waited a long time for such a group to emerge.  Expat investors have waited even longer.

worlds best value financial advisor

essential reading for visitors to andrew hallam website

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.

You may also like...

80 Responses

  1. Jen says:

    How long is acceptable to wait for a company to reply? I wanted to get index funds(not available at Saxo). I was going to apply with td direct-but then read about AES- emailed them and got a reply next day, I then told them what I was looking for-after a few days got an email saying-leave it with me,i,ll send over a strategy shortly. That was 10days ago. Should I be concerned? I got very prompt service from Saxo- but don’t want to be unfair to another company. My instincts are telling me not to use them–but I would be interested to know the length of time a company should respond by.

    • Jen,

      The advisor may have slipped and knocked his or her head in the bathroom. Please contact them again. And keep me posted.


    • Jen,

      Just to add further, I highly recommend this firm, despite what your instincts say. If you invest with Saxo, you’ll be entirely on your own. You can’t get advice from them. They won’t build you a portfolio. You’ll have to purchase your own ETFs online. There’s nothing wrong with that, if that’s what you want. With AES International, they will build a rebalance a portfolio for you. It’s a far easier process.


  2. Jen says:

    Hi Andrew

    I got a message now-they said they think the advisor went on leave. I just wanted them for passive index funds. I thought it was okay to go it alone for ETFs like your book said. Is Saxo more costly than AES then? I thought AES had higher fee of 1% which I felt was okay for the lump sums I wanted to put into index funds. But I thought Saxo costs were prob lower for my current ETF portfolio than AES. I know td direct is cheaper so am looking to swop my Saxo ETF portfolio to TDDirect. Yes-I listed my portfolio in pounds-so did not think about you had listed the costs in dollars. Tx for the help.

    • This is good to hear Jen.

      TD Direct International is actually cheaper than Saxo. It offers the same kind of DYI platform.

      AES International costs more than both. But based on statistical odds, you will perform better with them than if you take the route on your own. Most investors have a tough time managing their emotions. Most DIY index fund investors underperform a portfolio of stock and bond indexes by 2% or more each year….even though they own a portfolio of stock and bond index funds! Behaviour is huge. You might get an idea from this article. I talk about some products here that can only be purchased by Americans living in the U.S. But you’ll understand the behavioural premise. I mentioned much the same thing in my book.


  3. Dubai Investor says:

    Hello, Andrew. Interesting read, but also incomplete. I’m not sure where you got your figures, but having recently spoken to AES I can confirm that their suggested plan, a mix of equities and fixed income funds, incurs an annual fee of 2% in addition to 3% of all monies invested as an upfront fee.

    • Dubai Investor,

      Thanks for keeping me on my toes. After reading your comment, I contacted the CEO of AES International. It sounds like somebody may have given you the wrong information. If you add custody and the fund managers’ charges then depending on the amount you invest it could be as high as 1.86%. But the AES element of this won’t ever be higher than 1.25%. By selecting just the lowest cost ETFs, you should get total charges down to about 1.4%. If you want a full financial planning service where your wider circumstances are analyzed and a detailed report/plan is produced then this will create an initial charge (up to a maximum of 3% depending on asset size). But this is entirely your choice. A 3% upfront initial charge is less damaging than an extra 0.25% ongoing charge over time. I’ve recently put together a blog post (to be published soon) that explains how all fees are not created equal. As an alternative, you can DIY with AES International and just get the platform for 0.35% pa. I have asked for a link to a PDF of their Tariff of Fees and Charges which I will post on here so people can pick and choose what fits them best.

      The cheapest option of all will still be TD Direct International, if you are completely happy to go it alone.

      For those that want advice from a regulated advice firm an interesting article which will allow you to benchmark costs of regulated advice (as opposed to sole investment) is here:


  4. James says:

    Hi Andrew,

    In February, I adopted the PP strategy outlined in your last book and must thank you most sincerely for liberating us from the stress of expat retirement planning!

    Prior to finding you, I researched a few financial advisory firms…one of them being the AES branch in London, and after quite some contact, I (obviously) decided not to use them. Your recommendation here is quite specific for the Dubai office, and I’m just curious as to what your opinion is of the London office (if you have one).

    Thanks and congratulations again for your fantastic book, seriously, this should be compulsory reading for all expats.


    • James,

      As an expat, I am much more comfortable with the Dubai office. There are no capital gains taxes in Dubai.
      Also, I know for sure that they only build portfolios of index funds. The London office? I’m not so sure.


  5. Robert says:

    Hello Andrew, I am no investing genius and had taken substantial losses on my meagre savings by investing with the wrong business and into the wrong things via an adviser in Malaysia. AES provided a written X-ray service which showed the total costs I had paid and those that were still being paid by me. They actually directed me to your books and told me the different options I had which you outline. I could have tried myself but I am more comfortable letting someone else sort things out. My report shows the total cost of everything combined is 1.86% pa which is a fraction of what I was paying before. I am happy to have transparency, a better overall structure to my finances and someone I trust on hand to speak to when I want to. More importantly, my investments are now going up instead of down and I’ll never make the same mistakes again with an offshore salesperson…

  6. Jen says:

    Hi Andrew–just a flow up to my post where I asked how long I should wait for help. Since then AES has been fantastic–and lots of advice re opening an international bank account because I am now feeling stuck with no credit card or a debit card that works online!! (Have resigned from job in Middle East and working my notice).They don’t flog or push,just answer questions. No trying to force me to use the platform until I would be ready and very upfront about charges. I thought others might like to know that AES after an initial hiccup has been very helpful with no smarmy false talk.

  7. Cat says:

    Hi Andrew – Great read. I really enjoy your blog. I’ve got a question for you. Five years ago I took out a 15-year managed savings plan. By and large it has performed okay, but now the advisor who sold it to me originally has left and my policy has been entrusted to a guy who has about a nanosecond of experience. It has lost 20% in the last year alone. I’m really not happy about how it is being managed by the current advisor, but I don’t feel I can complain as he has pointed out that there is no benefit for the company to continue managing my policy because they got their commission once the first 18 months was up (nice!). He made out like they were actually doing me a favour! With a policy such as this is it worth taking it to somewhere like AES? It’s a relatively small investment (it will perhaps be worth 150k at maturity) so is it cost effective to pay a percentage of the policy net worth? And in your experience, do they generally do a good job of managing these things?

  8. Tricia says:

    Hi Andrew, I am shocked by this article. I wrote you about AES in 2015 and this is what you said to me last year. I quote verbatim from your email : As for the firm you mentioned. This fee of 0.85% would be reasonable under 3 mandatory conditions:

    1. You can sell at anytime, without any penalty
    2. The funds they select are low cost indexes only, costing no more than 0.2% per year.
    3. And…heck, that $750 annual fee is a freaking killer. It’s tough for me to say this is a good product at all….just based on that bit of nastiness. Think about it. If your portfolio value were $50,000, and you paid 0.85% as a management fee and $750 for an annual fee, that puts your annual charges at 2.35%. And that’s before adding in fund costs. If the funds are actively managed, you’ll pay another 1.75%. That’s 4% per year for accounts valued at $50,000.

    • Tricia,

      Their commitment to a fully index fund portfolio came after you wrote to me. If you have $75K, the costs for AES would be less than 1.5% per year. It’s still much cheaper to DIY. But if you want a full service financial planning brokerage, and you have less than $500,000 to invest, this appears to be the cheapest. When you wrote to me about them, they had no mention of index funds on their white list of funds. Their commitment to a fully index fund portfolio came after you wrote to me.


  9. David BAL says:

    Hi Andrew, I just called AES and they propose Index account fully managed by Blackrock in UK for an annual fee of 1.75% all included. AES is not managing anything but let Blackrock doing it. Is it a good product? No penalties apparently if the money is taken back and the fund sold…



    • Hi David,

      This portfolio would be miles better than the typical Middle East sold offshore pension. It would be completely hands free. There are no penalties to sell early.

      If you use such a platform, it wouldn’t take any time out of your typical year. AES International and BlackRock would look after everything for a total cost of 1.75 percent per year.


      If you don’t mind sending the money to a brokerage in Luxembourg, you could build much the same kind of portfolio (no fees to buy, no fees to sell, no penalty for withdrawals after the first 6 months) with TD’s Index Mutual Funds. Total fees would be far lower than with the AES option. It would cost you about 0.5 percent per year. That’s less than one third the cost. As a result, if you have a bit of discipline and 60 minutes a year to rebalance, it would almost certainly outperform the previous option. I wrote about those funds here:

      Having said that, you would be responsible for making the purchases and rebalancing the portfolio once a year. You would be responsible for wiring your money to Luxembourg.

      Could you go cheaper still? Yes. You could use TD Direct International to build a portfolio of ETFs. You would pay commissions to buy and a small annual platform charge. But overall, a portfolio of ETFs would be the cheapest of the lot. Including all expenses, it would cost less than 0.3 percent per year.

      If you would like to see how you could do this, I’ve described it in my book.

      You have to ask yourself one question:
      Do you want a completely hands free approach?

      If the answer is yes, go with the AES International option.


  10. David BAL says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks a lot for your answer! Actually I contacted TD in Luxembourg because I found their online plateform very attractive and moreover their fees are much lower than AES. I thought that with a little bit of learning I could manage my fund/ETF myself…

    The bad news is that I am living in Vietnam and TD informed they can’t open a multi currency account because they have no presence in this country! I don’t know what to do now. I could start doing something with AES first and later on open an account in Luxembourg when my situation change. At the moment my wife is not in Vietnam (she is in France) so perhaps she can still open an account under her name…



    • David,

      There is also the option of opening an account with DBS Vickers. They have a branch in Vietnam. I spoke at South Saigon International School earlier this year. Many of their teachers have opened such an account and built global ETFs that trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange.


      • David BAL says:

        Hi Andrew,

        Super. I will check it out. Having some savings in Singapore as well and a salary paid in Vietnam it might make sense to look at DBS vickers. Are they competitive in term of fees? I seems like it’s the case when I look on their website but there may be hidden charges…



  11. Nigel Wilson says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Q: Worst case scenario ?

    Hypothetically speaking – I`m British and have “permanent resident” status in the Philippines. I`d like to open an account with TD Luxembourg but they do not accept Philippines residents. If I joined but claimed UK residency (as have a UK address), what is the worst that could happen?

    One concern is UK Gov claiming tax at a future date as I joined under the pretense of a UK residency.

    Thoughts on this hypothetical situation ?

    Am aware of Saxo etc in Singapore.

    Cheers for the good work you do.


    • David BAL says:

      Hi Nigel,

      Apparently it’s not legal to trade on TD if you are resident in Philippines. I have the same issue in Vietnam…


    • John says:

      TD has sold its Direct Investing International in Luxembourg to Interactive Investor. Maybe the new policy will allow for Philippine residents to open an account with the new Interactive Investor brokerage in Luxembourg. You should ask them. Failing that, just use your UK address. They’ll ask you to provide proof of a UK address and legal residency, etc., probably.

  12. Catherine says:

    Hi Andrew
    Thank you so much for writing Millionaire Teacher. My eyes have been opened to a whole new world. I’m in the early stage of my investment journey and have a quick question. I’m Canadian, living in the UK (also a British citizen). Ideally I’d have a diversified stock portfolio made up of UK, world and Canadian stocks + bonds. There are plenty of options for me (including Vanguard) for UK, US and world stocks + bonds – but I can’t figure out how to invest in the Canadian stock market. Do you have any tips or can you direct me anywhere? Thanks so much!

  13. Murray says:

    Hi Andrew

    Are you aware that AES in Dubai have lowered the minimum amount needed to open an index account to 45,000 Dirhams?

    This now looks like an incredibly good option for those of us without $75000 lying around!

    Just thought I’d share.


    • Thanks Murray,

      It comes with internal and external costs that are about 1/3rd of the typical offshore pension. Total costs are 1.75% per year for AES’s lower entry platform. Regulatory fees (that AES can’t control) get priced into the total fees.


    • Jen says:

      Hi Murray-just wondering if you are the South African Murray who wrote on here before and we exchanged some comments? If you are just wanted to say -if you were planning to retire in SA that is–look at Satrix. Their ETF platform costs are very low–and u can even invest with a monthly debit order for a small amt. They also automatically reinvest dividends for you. There current ETFs are all local-but they shortly will gave international ETFs. I use them and am happy (but I also use the Saxo platform–and for variety I am also going to open an index account with AES for $10,000.).

  14. Luxembourger says:

    Why is AES’ Dubai branch no longer showing on the Chartered company register? It was there last time I checked, but gone now.

  15. Andy says:

    I have just spoken to an adviser firm that can set up a regular platform plan for 1,000 USD per month for me. The platform is 0.3% pa and the average cost of the indexed funds is around 0.27%. The firm charges 1% pa to manage this, I am not confident enough to manage myself.
    I can also place a lump of cash into this to start it off with 10,000 USD and there is no charge at all for the investment fund lump. All of it goes in.
    All in, it looks like an advised service for 1.57% all inclusive. The difference is that the adviser firm manages the choice of index funds and I have direct contact.

    Does that seem a good deal? It does to me, compared to what is offered above.

    • Mark Zoril says:

      Sorry Andy, but those fees are absurd if I am understanding them correctly! $1000 a month??? Is this in addition to the ongoing fees? This can’t be correct. 1.57% on an ongoing basis for managing index funds is an incredibly steep price, year in and year out. Depending upon where you are located and your nationality, you can use brokerages like TD Direct, Interactive Brokers, Saxo, etc… and save tens of thousands throughout your lifetime. What is the firm you are speaking with?

      • Phil says:

        Think he means the amount invested is 1,000 a month.

        If he manages it himself, looks like 0.57% for a platform of indexed funds. One firm that is heavily promoted on here charges 1.25% to manage and has higher combined platform and fund fees.

        Horses for courses, a confident investor can go it alone and save advice fees.

  16. Bob Jones says:

    Hi Andrew, have you got any insight into fee only managers in Hong Kong?

    I have come across a couple (but only based on internet searches) and their rates are around 1% of assets managed. The ones I have come across are Simmonds Financial and Private Capital.


  17. Fiona says:

    Hello Andrew and the readers

    many thanks for your contributions to the expat society we should really reward you for you’re kind support . I am thinking to join AES international in Dubai they offers me thief blackrock index portfolio

    They have three types : balance, moderate and growth

    I am struggling to know where it is a good time to join now on the moderate type as it is heavy US market equity which is very expensive and volatile now

    I asked them for their historical prices of all ETF but no response

    Please let me your thoughts

    • Hi Fiona,

      It’s best never to consider whether a market is “cheap”, “expensive”, or “volatile.” Doing so will cause you to speculate. And speculators (another word for market timers) usually perform poorly over time. AES’s portfolio is globally diversified. Diversification is the closest you’ll ever get to a free lunch. Just add money every month or every quarter. Ignore the market. Ignore all forecasts. Save as much money as you can and reap the long-term rewards.


  18. Yunus says:

    Dear Mr. Hallam. I too am considering investing with AES. Your comments and endorsement are reassuring. However, I must enquire if you are, in any way, connected with AES international?

  19. Fiona says:

    Hi Yunus , please come up with other worth alternatives to Zurich , friend ……etc and all other extremely bad investment

    • Yunus says:

      HI Fiona. I personally don’t think there are bad investments as such. Any investment is a risk, and all you have to do is to assess your appetite and capacity to accept said risk. I have had a few bad experiences, but they were more my fault for not paying attention or asking the right questions before undertaking those investments. There certainly are questionable financial advisers or experts out there.and that is where the problem lies. Very rarely will you find an expert who will give away free advice. I certainly would not. Mr Hallam is a breath of fresh air and I thank him for this forum. I think that maybe the way to go is to engage the services of a paid adviser, such as a chartered accountant, to guide you.


    Dear Andrew,
    I have slowly been building up funds with AES International in Dubai – they were kind enough (or accidentally let me slip through) with significantly less that $75K, but getting there! I’m re-reading Millionaire Teacher, and towards the end of the book you gave an example of the impact that 1% can have over the years, and it feels fairly significant. Last night i was thinking I should immediately withdraw everything and venture out myself, but then thought I’d see what you say about AES, and this is of course fairly positive! As a novice, and with this my first effort to get into Index Funds, would you suggest I keep going with them, or get up to a certain amount with them (maybe their $75K threshold?) and then after that start afresh with all my additional savings in an even cheaper way? Or just stick with the programme and trust that this will still yield good results in the long run?
    Thank you so much – hope to catch you in Dubai again soon!

    • Hi Jandre,

      As I mentioned in m y book, Millionaire Expat, few people have the emotional fortitude to build their own portfolios of index funds and rebalance it annually when the markets crash. I don’t know your personality, so I can’t answer your question. I discuss this in more detail in Millionaire Expat.


  21. H says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for all your information, it’s great! I’m an Irish citizen with residency here in Dubai – looking to start investing. I spoke with Saxo Bank and they are offering a managed ETF portfolio (30 different stocks) for 30,000 Euro, annual fee of 0.75%. 2 euro commission per transaction if they choose to rebalance every 3 months.
    If you choose to exit the scheme you pay 60-70 euro to liquidate.
    This was from the representative I spoke to on the phone yesterday.
    Are you familiar with this scheme, would you recommend it? Or is it best to stick with AES Dubai?

    Kind Regards,


  22. Helen says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Many thanks for all your brilliant information. I am an Irish citizen residing in Dubai. I spoke to a representative from Saxo bank yesterday offering a managed portfolio of ETF’S (30 different stocks) for 30,000 EURO, with a 0.75% annual fee, plus 2 euro fee per transaction. There is a 60-70 euro fee to liquidate if you choose to exit.
    Are you familiar with this scheme? Or would you still recommend the managed portfolio from AES international?

    Kind Regards,


    • Hi Helen,

      You said two different things here, so I’ll need clarification. On one hand, you mentioned a portfolio of ETFs. On the other hand, you mentioned 30 individual stocks. A single diversified portfolio of ETFs would have thousands of stocks within it. So…what exactly is Saxo offering you?


  23. Helen says:

    Hi Andrew, thank you for your reply. Apologies – I’ll try to clarify. This is a quote below taken from one of the links I was sent from the rep.

    “The Saxo Morningstar Moat Portfolio is a single stock portfolio of 30 quality stocks selected based on the proven “value investing” methodology of Morningstar Investment Management Europe Ltd. Their methodology for investing into stock markets is to identify quality companies and the most underpriced stocks of those companies are then purchased to become part of your portfolio.”

    Kind Regards,


    • Hi Helen,

      That’s much riskier than a diversified portfolio of index funds (or ETFs). With just 30 stocks, you would not have enough global or U.S. diversification. And if just five of those stocks ended up being stinkers, you could lose a lot of money.
      I don’t recommend their service.


  24. Helen says:

    Hi Andrew, OK that makes sense……I was getting mixed up that it was a portfolio of ETF’s.
    Thank you for the advise!

    Kind Regards,


  25. Paul Rhys says:

    Hi, I’m just wondering if the 1.75% fee being quoted by AES (0.5% for Blackrock and 1.25% for their own fee) still makes this a good deal, or am I better going elsewhere? Bought the book yesterday by the way, great read so far.

  26. Chloe says:

    Hi Andrew, I’ve been living in Dubai for the past 8 years and am only now looking into overseas investing. I almost invested with Zurich but thankfully happened upon your page and strict warnings to avoid them at all cost.

    I’m a Canadian expat and am looking at WealthBar and AES International. I know very little about investing. I will be living for another 4 years in Dubai and then will probably head to somewhere in Asia but not sure where. Can I invest in AES only if I’m living in the ME, Aisa and Europe?

    I’m interested in both as a long term investment but am having difficulty figuring out which one would be best for me. Can you help?

    Also, my bank is at the moment offering fixed deposit rates at 3.6% over 500 days. Does this seem like a good rate of return or best to start looking more seriously at WealthBar or AES?

    Thank you!!!

    Sincerely, Chloe

    • Hi Chloe,

      I’m happy to hear that you sidestepped a Zurich policy. I don’t think you should put your cash in a high-interest savings account. To keep it in for 500 days will mean that the money you keep there will lose to inflation, considering how quickly the cost of goods and services are rising in Dubai.

      As for AES vs. WealthBar, that depends on what you want.

      WealthBar will cost you less, in terms of fees. The less you pay in investment fees, the more money you will make (if that money is dispassionately rebalanced in a portfolio of index funds). But you won’t be able to call WealthBar during Dubai business hours, based on the time difference. In that respect, AES would be more convenient. Also, once you have built a portfolio exceeding $250,000, I believe you would get better service with AES International.

      So…the decision is up to you.


  27. tony says:

    Thank you for insightful book ….. wish I had read it 35 years ago…. I want to move a nest egg of Usd 700k I retire in two and a half years time . Have been advised by Aes to move into DFA World allocation 60/40 ….. portfolio charge .44 annual …. Also To move into a Nedbank Platform .35 per annum… To move this out of the current monsters where it has sat at very little growth for 35 years …. I am getting asked for initial fee of 2% and then ongoing fee of 1.25 %….. Plus whatever the cold shower is to move out the other funds …. First Please … in the next two years I will be adding another Us 500k ….. THis will be taken out at 4% per annum as you describe in your book. TGHis to be added to the rentals from our properties to form the base of my ” pension ” The Questions are 60/40 split DFA world …. the best split ? 2 % initial charge to preform this ? these fees would put me at 2.04 ? I made many mistakes over the past 35 years I want this to be the last …please advise

    • Hi Tony,

      The portfolio allocation sounds solid. But you shouldn’t have to pay AES 2% to transfer your money in. Tell them you would like to invest with them, and that you are willing to pay the 1.25% ongoing annual fee to them, but that you don’t want to pay a 2% transfer charge. It’s my impression that they won’t charge this anyway. Please get back to me on this forum and let me know what they say.


      • tony says:

        Hi Andrew, After long discussion I am informed that the 2% charge stays. That this is that the way it is set up one can walk away at any time. I feel more than ok with the 1.25 annual fee. They seem adamant that the 2 percent stands . ADVICE PLEASE…

        • Hi Tony,

          I communicated with AES with respect to this 2% charge. It isn’t a charge for transferring your money in. It’s a charge for their fully comprehensive financial plan. Setting up such an individual plan with a new client is very time intensive. But if you want to bypass the financial planning model, and just have AES manage your investments, then you won’t have to pay this 2% fee on assets. I initially thought their 1.25% annual fee covered full financial planning. But that isn’t the case. It just covers investment management. My apologies for not fully understanding the pricing model.


  28. JJ says:

    Hi Andrew,
    I am a non-resident canadian expat in Dubai. I know that I don’t have the personality type to be an effective DIY investor. Would you recommend Wealthbar or AES International? I have the min. USD 75k requirement for AES and like the idea of being able to contact someone locally, but not sure the higher fees are worth it.

  29. Ed says:

    Hi Andrew,

    I am an Irish citizen currently teaching in Abu Dhabi but I will be returning to Ireland in the next 1-2 years to work. What would you suggest as the best approach to take regards investing my savings given the fact that I will be returning to Ireland? Is there any particular company you would suggest that would be the best for my situation? Is it possible to set up a fund here in the UAE and then continue to manage the same fund from Ireland? I’m very confused about the whole thing!

  30. Madeira says:

    Hi Andrew, I am European expat living in Qatar for five years now, I have got misled into a Generalli plan four years ago, the plan ends in six years.
    I was looking into start DIY investing, but also considering the alternative of having someone doing it for me.
    Would you recommend taking the money asap from Generally and use it to invest in ETFs/bonds portfolio?
    And if so do you recommend AES for this type of situation?
    Thank you so much.

    • Hi Madeira,

      I do recommend that you cancel the Generali plan, take the financial hit, and then invest the money elsewhere. AES International is a good firm. You can read about them, and other options, in my book, Millionaire Expat. Here’s the link:


      • Daud Issufo says:

        Hi Andrew,

        Thank you for your quick reply.
        Of those brokers you mention in your book, which one would you recommend for a European (Portugal) expat in the Middle East that wants to retire back home but using an offshore account.
        By the way I did bought your book and enjoyed it.
        Thank you.

        • Hi David,

          That’s up to you. That decision won’t have any effect on your retirement. I use Internaxx. But that doesn’t mean it’s the best. I don’t know which is best because several personal factors should always be considered: how helpful they are, how easy the site is to navigate, etc. If you go to my website, there’s a link to Internaxx at the top, with discounts for new account openings.



    Hi Andrew/all. Just had a call from AES – they’re discontinuing their Index accounts, as apparently many people opened one with $10K, and weren’t profitable. Instead, they’re now doing a Smart Account – a “more active solution”, which can be opened with $100K upwards. Total costs of 1.91 or 1.93% (AES charges, Fund Charges and Platform Charges). They did say that existing Index holders can keep investing as is, and migrate if they choose to when they reach $100K.

    • Kranthi says:

      Thanks Jandre. I have an appointment with AES tommorow and will find out more about the new smart solution option

      Did they mention about the previous returns as from their website they don’t state the returns ex: CAGR or IRR. All the information they have is selection of funds they call as DMFwhich I premuse is diversified mutual funds???
      Can you please confirm whether 1.93% charges are reasonable in comparison to other peers in this sector
      Further I am a British expat working in Qatar so when I do my tax return in UK does the amount has to be declared and is it taxable if I invest the money from an expat account


      • Jen says:

        From my opinion… are cheaper charging a p.a fee of btw 0.5-0.8% depending on portfolio size. They do etf index trackers and rebalance for you.
        I don’t think Aes or Sarwa can say..this is how much one will earn as stock and bond markets go up and down. So Sarwa ( Dubai…and one can open with them from another country..but not USA persons) is cheaper than Aes..also Dubai ( and U.K.).
        However if one goes it’s even cheaper. ( but for me Sarwa is cheaper irrespective of your amount of money, if you want your etf portfolio built for you and rebalanced than AES. ) Sarwa uses interactive brokers as the trading platform. AES also offers active wealth management for those with lots of money…in addition to the smart account for those with less money..but costs more p.a.

        • Henry says:

          AES is good firm but charge a 1.25% fee….too much in my view. I would simply do your own thing through Internaxx – 3 low cost index funds and your good to go. Otherwise your paying 1.25% extra for someone to re balance for you….rip off.

          • Henry says:

            sorry this is old. just check the website and they are now charging 1.5% plus as much as 0.48% in product fees !!! Ouch.

    • Henry says:

      Hi Andrew, Interested in your response here to AES’s move away from Index funds. Are you still encouraging people to use them? Would seem strange if you are as your whole program is based around low cost index funds.


  32. Henry says:

    Would be careful with AES. They moved away from index funds and now charging the average person 1.5% fee plus as much as 0.46 % for the fund cost. Nearly 2% !!! Would be interested if Andrew is still recommending these guys. Seems a rip off to me.

    • Henry, AES uses Dimensional Fund advisors now (a form of index fund). Other costs are still the same, but you can DIY and pay less. AES’s main focus is high net worth clients who require complicated tax advice, estate planning etc. For the right client, they’re still good. And they tend to be very professional and well qualified. But if you want to DIY, you’ll pay a lot less in fees.


      • Henry says:

        Hi Andrew, I see it as funds managed by dimensional fund managers (so active) they are trying to still beat the index. Which they charge for of course…roughly 0.46 % global fund vs 0.25%.

        Does this not go against your philosophy of tracking index’s WITHOUT human involvement other than rebalancing and adding cash. Even though these are high wealth individuals it should not distract them from the simple indexing investment strategy. Which AES has moved away from. I understand the need for tax help but they are being driven into more expensive investment options which seems a rip off (Dimension is less than the average Active fund but still double the cost of TRUE index’s).



        • Henry says:

          Why would AES not charge for the tax advice etc (they have good knowledge and experience of course) but still make available TRUE low cost Index funds ? That would be more Ethical surely. The answer is of course that they want to make every last drop of money from high wealth individuals even when they know the funds they are offering are double standard index’s. Sounds like the old Financial Advisor mentality where people are not told the full truth about Indexing. In my view AES has gone backwards and although I’m a high wealth investor I would never use them for that reason.

        • Hi Henry,

          There are two distinct camps, when it comes to index investing. John Bogle sat on one side with Burton Malkiel, and the cap-based model. Eugene Fama, a Nobel Prize winner in Economics, sat on the other, with the DFA model. Both are excellent options. Burton Malkiel, himself, once told me that if investors are going to deviate from a cap-based model, DFA is a good choice. I would be comfortable with either of them. That doesn’t mean, however, that you need to be. It sounds like you know how to DIY with your own ETFs. That’s fantastic. You can keep fees low, rebalance once a year, and rock this thing!

          Yes, it would be great if a full service, qualified expatriate advisor could charge by the hour for planning and tax advice. But at this point, none appear to do so. Perhaps one day.


Leave a Reply

For your privacy we strongly recommend you do not use your full real name. While your email address will not be published, it may reveal your photo or a recognizable image if it is associated with It is strongly suggested you do not use a corporate or ISP email address. Before your comment is published you will receive an email asking you to confirm your email address. Select "Notify me of follow-up comments via email" to receive notifications of replies and be able to adjust your subscription. Published comments will not be deleted.

By clicking "Post Comment" you confirm you have read and agree to the conditions on the Legal Page; including the Privacy Policy, the Cookie Policy, and the Comments Policy.  We reserve the right to not publish comments that do not meet guidelines.