Zurich Vista Policy Holder Asks If He Should Sell It All



One of my readers recently put a comment on my blog. 

He’s kicking himself. 

He bought a Zurich Vista investment policy.  He signed up for a 24-year duration. 

Based on information provided in Zurich Vista’s policy, it isn’t a cheap investment scheme. Total annual costs might run as high as 4.5 percent per year when averaged over a duration of a 25-year term.


The online prospectus states that there’s a 4 percent annual charge on the amount deposited during the first 18 months. The firm calls this their “Expense recoupment charge.” As the prospectus reads, it costs “4 percent per year of the value of the initial units.” When we add this fee to the fees that follow, the first 18 months of deposits (the initial units) are charged 7.75 percent per year (depending on the funds selected). This fee doesn’t include the “Monthly policy charges” of $8.25 USD that the prospectus says is “a fixed charge deducted each month.”


If the investment charges (management fees and Zurich Vista charges) average 7.75 percent per year over a 25-year period, and if inflation averages 3 percent per year, the investors’ initial units will lose 3.75 percent per year after inflation.


(7 percent gross return minus 3 percent inflation, minus 7.75 percent in fees equals – 3.75 percent per year).


The online prospectus says that money added after the initial units period will attract the following fees:


A yearly management charge of 1 percent per year:


“This charge is based on the policy value and will be deducted on a monthly basis at a rate of 1 percent per year.”


The actively managed funds selected can cost more than 2 percent per year. The prospectus explains this charge under their section, “Underlying fund charges” on page 14 of their online brochure.


The online Zurich Vista prospectus also states that it adds a mirror charge fee of 0.75 percent per year. This is also listed on page 14. “This charge covers our fund accounting procedures, administering and reporting and is 0.75 percent a year of the net asset value of the underlying fund.”


The prospectus states that it offers a loyalty bonus in the form of fee reductions. On page 8 of the prospectus it reads, “At year five, the loyalty bonus will be a refund of 10 percent of the total yearly management charge deducted in the first five years.” The “yearly management charge” is listed as “1 percent” so it would be dropped to 0.9 percent from 1 percent. But such a deduction might not include mirror charges. It doesn’t include fund management costs.


Page 8 lists other fee reduction bonuses at years 10 and 15.


But if an investor misses a monthly investment payment and doesn’t make it up, the Zurich Vista Policy punishes them by not providing any loyalty bonuses (as seen on page 8 of the prospectus).


If investors want to sell their policy before a pre-determined date, the online report says the Zurich Vista policy might take all of the investors’ money. According to the prospectus, if it’s a 25-year policy, and the investor wants to sell everything they have invested after one year, Zurich keeps it all.


If investors want to sell everything after 4 years, Zurich keeps 89.36 percent of the investment total. It’s hard to believe. But the table that outlines such penalties is found on page 13 of the Zurich Vista policy statement.

If you think you’ll get comprehensive financial planning for these high fees, you might have to pay even more.  The prospectus says such a service could cost an additional 1.5 percent per year.  That puts total fees in the nosebleed zone, even after any possible loyalty fee reductions and bonuses.  

This is a costly plan with more drawbacks than benefits.  












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 and Millionaire Expat: How To Build Wealth Living Overseas. 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.

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67 Responses

  1. toony says:

    Ah, Tony Noto, a very rare financial advisor in the expat field like yourself Andrew. He was one of the first to publicly document how evil these ILAS are while refusing to be seduced by the fast money at the expense of expats. Reading his work on this topic really helped me understanding the working of these scams!

    I must admit, the people that originally designed these Zurich/FPI/Old Mutual ILAS products are absolutely brilliant, bordering on genius! These products are incredibly efficient at stealing money under people’s noses, while appearing to be a genuine financial product but remaining very tough to exposed/debunked/explain, even by very experienced financial experts!

    To the original person that inspire this post – take consolidation that you found out about the scam now and NOT after 24 years and realise that they have stolen most of your entire life savings!!!

    Keen to add a few points to what Andrew has mentioned already.

    There are actually 2 parts to these financial scams:

    Part 1 – Initial scam
    Basically, EVERYTHING you “invest” in the first 18 months is the upfront/non-refundable fees that goes straight into their pockets (shared between Zurich (approx. 1/3), the insurance salesperson, masquerading as ‘Financial Advisor’ that conned you into signing (~1/3) and their company (~1/3)).

    This is disguised as ‘initial units’ and ‘bonus units’ (to mask the real value of them to your account – ie. $0), which is then falsely trotted out as the ‘surrender’ fee when you realise the scam and try to leave!

    Part 2 – Ongoing scam
    This is the more insidious part of the scam! All contributions beyond 18 months are subjected to a mountain of different fees, most of which are invisible to the average person as they are conveniently left out or lied about at signup. Some of these fees include: fund fees, mirror fees, front load fees, fund spread, monthly account fees, admin fees, sky is blue fees, etc

    Together, the fees add up to 4-6% of your account value per year! This is the real killer part of the scam that most people fail to understand/see. I (and many other people) consider anything over 2% pa is a scam! This Vanguard blog neatly explains the massive effects of fees:


    Assuming ave 5% fees per year over 24 years, Zurich will steal 69% of your entire portfolio. To put this into perspective, imagine you invest $2000 pm for 24 years. At 5% growth, the total amount at the end will be ~$1.21M. However, Zurich effectively keep ~$835k and leave you ~$375k! Seems fair and reasonable right? 🙁

    In summary, these financial scam operate by stealing 100% of everything you put in the first 18 months AND then 4-6% of your account balance each and every year, completely destroying your entire savings!

    What to do if already caught in these traps
    From a mathematical point of view, there is a fixed cost (first 18 months) with an ongoing percentage (4-6%), which gives us a positive exponential curve. In english, this equation/graph has no turning point which means there is no action you can take along the way to minimise your losses! Everyday you remain in the trap, your losses grows not linearly but increases exponentially!

    The only way to minimise your losses is get out of the trap ASAP!

    Common questions I hear
    1. What about withdrawing the max amount and freezing contributions?
    No, this doesn’t work and will results in you losing more money needlessly! If you max withdrawal and freeze (instead of full surrender) they will keep an additional 2 years worth of upfront fees from your payout. You can only freeze 2 years and if don’t add more money, your account effectively reaches $0 and they automatically closes it down. Wouldn’t you prefer to give them 2 extra years of fees or keep that money yourself?

    2. What about contributing the minimum monthly?
    No, bad idea on 4 fronts!
    A. The more money you add to your account, the more they can take with fees.
    B. Fees are charged based on highest monthly contribution, not your minimum contribution
    C. All new contributions are better off invested in low-cost index funds to recover your losses, and
    D. You will get monthly reminders of this financial mistake which is not a good for your mental health!

    I have yet to see anyone in ANY situation, circumstances or strategy that is better than an immediate, full surrender! The designers of these policies are extremely clever, leaving no avenue of escape or ways to minimise your losses! You must take the financial hit and get out ASAP!!! As alluded by Andrew at the very end, the use of the fictitious ‘surrender’ fee is an incredibly powerful psychological technique to keep people in the trap for as long as possible!

    I really hope anyone reading this is able to make use of the information, take the financial hit and quickly move on to the recovery part! 🙂

    P.S. There are ample of evidence from many people (experienced this personally) that the insurance companies collude with local insurance brokers (AKA ‘Independent Financial Advisors’) to trap and keep expat trap in these schemes while providing each other plausible deniability.

    Even with solid proof of fraud or mis-selling, both parties will laugh in contempt of ALL refund requests (apart from a couple of extremely rare cases) while hiding behind a foreign country (Isle of Man) and knowing the local financial laws are too weak to prosecute them! Any attempt to chase after losses will result in much greater costs than what is lost to them initially! My personal advice – accept this costly, but valuable financial lesson, warn other people and move on to better things asap!

    Best wishes all 🙂

    • shah says:

      Thank you so much dear for your noble intentions and good efforts to save people from this. I got to know about this scheme yesterdau thru a financial advisor and although he looked honest and also did show me upfront the table where all the deductions were shown in case we witdraw the amount before 5 years, i could clearly understand that most of my money would go fortheir commision and other charges only rather than any investments. I came online to find more credence to my thoughts and also to show all your comments and bad experiences to my wife so that she can also understand it better and not fall prey to such sick schemes in future. Thanks a ton! I really wish everyone does little research online and reads all in this blog before trying to put their hard earned money to these big scammster companies, which ironically are registered in The isle of MAN, but doing the most inhumanely things openly.

  2. scd says:

    Zurich Vista Policy is a horrible savings policy or anything. Worst part is their is no exit clause that allow to surrender the policy with out paying extortionate encashment charges. I would not recommend Zurich for any saving or investment types of plans as it is a scam. Maybe for straight insurance where you can drive down price based on market competition but stay away from any investment type of vehicles.

    • SCD,

      You are right! Keep spreading the word.


      • scott says:

        Ended up in arbitration with zurich in singapore and lost. Contractually it is impossible to get out. I will never use Zurich for anything in the future. Now that i know a lot more about the insurance business the policies that are good for protection recommend to use other companies. Any other company than Zurich.

  3. Shah says:

    Does the same concept apply with Zurich Futura policies? I know they’ve taken ‘total fees’ for 18-24 months. Not sure of the costs per year after that. That’s an insurance policy though in the case of death and other riders, so is it worth keeping?

  4. Daniel Alberts says:

    I have found myself in a similar situation with a product that deVere sold in Mozambique. It appears that deVere were not registered to sell their products (espeically insurance products like the Generali Vision Plan) in Mozambique, either. http://www.dupedbydevere.com

  5. Greg says:

    Daniel, and others, please join the Facebook group, Action Against Zurich Vista.


  6. Mark says:

    Hi Andrew

    I recently met you when you came to Dubai and had my photo taken with you!

    Respect your effort and time to educate people.

    I too had a Zurich Vista policy which I was mis sold by Global Eye (Tim Searle) & Dynamic Zone (Joe Capaldi). Joe sold me a policy for $2000.00 then persuaded me to increase to $4000.00 a month after seeing what my father left me as inheritance. My salary at the time was just over $4000.00! Got some interesting e mails from the 2 of them saying I signed the forms and I cannot change anything would you like me to forward you them just for your info and to help other people not to sign up. Eventually they agreed to reduce back down to $2000.00 but now thankfully out of it now and investing as per your books.

    Tim Searle & Joe Capaldi still here and promoting these products. Also meant to be respected financial advisors here!

    • Thank you Mark,

      Yes, please forward me the emails. andrewhallam1970ATgmail.com

      • Mark Rich says:

        Hi Andrew I am so sorry for the late reply I didn’t actually tick the box to notify of a follow up. Was just randomly looking through your website again and noticed you actually replied. Thank you and would be more than willing to send the e mails. Do you still want me to? Thanks Mark

    • toony says:

      If what you say about your salary and new monthly commitment is correct, you have an avenue for redress with Zurich. What happened to you should have been picked up by compliance and never approved of!
      Basically, there was a rule brought in to stop intermediaries doing EXACTLY what you described! With these policies, there is a maximum amount permitted of your surplus (after expenses). Don’t have the Zurich numbers in front of me but it’s ~50% I think. Lets say your wages is 4k with 2k expenses, leaving you 2k spare. The maximum policy they could sign you up for is 1k (ie 50% of surplus unless they do some incredible creative accounting).
      Normally with a lump sum, they try to trap you with the lump sum product. However, it only pays them 7% upfront commission. It appears they went for the ‘saving plan’ option which was illegal (with your numbers) but pays much bigger commission. They knew they were in the wrong thus agreed to reduce to original 2k, hoping you wont complain to the authority. There was a chance you could have pushed for full refund if knew about this rule and threaten to complain to Zurich and/or IA! – open and shut case if reviewer saw the original wage/surplus calculations when you first signed on.
      FYI, Tim Searle has publicly brag about GlobalEye being sponsored (51% owned) by the Al Maktoum family (ruling royal family of Dubai) – take that info however you want it.

      • Hi Mark,

        I’m currently writing a second edition of my expat book. I’m examining sales techniques. I would love to tell your story in a paragraph or so, describing the promises they made and strategies they used to “make the sale.” Please email me at andrewhallam1970ATgmail.com if you’re interested.


        Would you mind if I told your story too? Please email me if I can describe what they did to you too.


      • John says:

        Dear Toony and Andrew,

        I was very interested by your responses to Mark. Andrew, I met you during one of your talks in Abu Dhabi… won your Global Expat book… fantastic read!

        My spouse was sold a RL360 Quantum policy by PIC/DeVere/Acuma, at an initial installment of ~4k USD per month. This is 2/3 of the monthly 6k salary. Within the first several months they advised to increase it beyond the salary, which my spouse did.

        Moreover, the advisor did not collect the proper UAE Visa, instead obtaining a rental contract, so that he could sell the policy to a US citizen without RL360’s knowledge. The advisor lied about initial fees, tax liabilities, and also never gave us the original hard copy signed documents.

        I am unsure how to proceed with this case… is it possible to email you with more details? Do you know of anyone in the UAE who has experience with these redress situations?

        Many thanks

        • toony says:

          Don’t want to get your hopes up. You do have 2 possible areas of appeal.
          1. These products can’t be sold to US expats (there has been a case where money was refunded after a drawn out fight). With regards to lying about the product/features, there’s not much you can do unfortunately with current laws.
          2. With your wife’s policy, it does appear to be ‘predatory selling’ with the info you have provided – chance of redress on this matter. I don’t have the fine print for the RL360 or know their internal policy/compliance for the maximum monthly contributions allow.
          The big problem is that regulations is so poor (but slowly getting better) that BOTH the insurance companies AND brokers know they can get away with things that would result in massive fines and/or jail if done in a regulated countries. There’s plenty of incentives for the insurance companies to work with brokers to extract as much money as fast as possible from expats! Even in cases of misselling/fraud, they simply deny everything and bounce you back and forth until you give up. Legal action is not really viable as international court (they hide in the Isle of Man) is too costly!
          My advice to you if you want to attempt redress:
          1. Contact Quantum and query them about US expat status and their policy on maximum contributions allowed for a given income. From their answer, if feel you have a case
          2. Put in a formal complaint that you are seeking refund/redress due to x/y/z reasons.
          3. Also include any communication you have already undertaken with PIC/DeVere/Acuma to redress the problem.
          From personal experience and stories by others, they have a very polished system down pat with DeVere (and other IFA companies) to play Ping-Pong with you.
          “Sorry, we only provide the product, see financial advisor if you want a refund”
          “Sorry but we only sell what we are given. Quantum has your money so see them if you want a refund”
          They have plausible deniability down pat! After 1 bounce, simply inform them that you will put in a formal complaint to the UAE IA (Insurance Authority) against both companies. They will call you on this so be prepared.
          Now go here:
          Fill out the relevant details/submit information etc. They will get back to you with something along the line of:
          “Have you attempted to resolved the situation with the other parties involved?”
          You can simply say ‘yes’ and upload communication. This will escalate your complaint. Both DeVere and Quantum with be forced to supply an answer etc.
          There’s a small chance that one or the other will offer you something – it costs them money and time to deal with the IA so they would rather settle if cost effective for them.
          If you do go this way, let us know how it goes so we can all learn and help others…good luck!!! 🙂

      • Mark Rich says:

        Hi Tony sorry for the late reply as mentioned to Andrew I didn’t tick the notify by e mail to a response.

        Just for your information I tried Zurich in the UAE and the Isle of Mann. Financial Ombudsman plus here in the UAE but was told I did not have a case . It was so frustrating and time consuming trying to fight them on my own.

        This was back in 2009 and carried the plan on until last year 2016 until I had the courage to withdraw and invest as per Andrews book.

        I have noticed a Zurich Vista action group on Facebook but was wondering if I would just be wasting my time as back in 2009/10 it was so frustrating.

        Tim Searle can’t believe he’s still here and allowed to carry on selling these products.

        Joe Capaldi is still working in Dubai for Holborn Assets I just can’t believe how these guys are still here and probably still selling the same products.

        • Gordon says:

          I think he has gone now.
          It looks as if Holborn has removed all reference to his name and the website dynamiczone appears to be closed down.

          • Gale Shaheed says:

            Is there anyone who can direct me in finding out about The Dynamic Zone in the UAE. How you register a company, find out its profits. My elderly aunt invested quite a lot of money in this company of Joe Capaldi’s, and was told it failed !

    • gordon says:

      I heard a rumour that there was a case against a firm in which Joe was placing trades. The result was a 3-month suspension (now been lifted) as the product was not licensed and Joe was not working for that company. It would appear that the IA is now taking notice. Perhaps Joe was not employed by Globaleye at the time. Worth trying a complaint to the IA?

  7. Cameron says:

    HI Andrew,

    Really enjoyed your book, I have encouraged as many of my friends around Dubai to read it. It amazing how many people have been ripped off in Dubai by these products, guess it is a hunting ground around here. I was misold 2 products and lost around USD$ 25,000 in the cancellation, let alone the wasted years with crappy returns and crappy advice about the underlying funds choice too!

    At least now following the strategy in your book, I made an average return of 17-20% in the past 18 months since I read it, which whilst it is only short terms, I am used to the complete opposite when I had both a Friend Provident Premier Plan and the Generali Vision plan… I am using Saxo Bank and a relatively simple mix of ETFs… Cant recommend your book to people starting out and wanting to do some investing of their own.

    I must say I am a bit disappointed to see AES International being promoted on this website, they are as bad as the rest of them and that was the exact company that ripped me off! So I hope you dont mind if I outline my experience. The companies who engage in the activity of selling products like this all need to be exposed. Hopefully then people can make informed decisions before proceeding with ANY apparent “IFA”. So apologies in advance for the long comment.

    I admit that I was naive and yes I should have done more homework before signing up, but when you go to a Doctor on advice on how to get better you expect to be advised on how to cure your sickness. Hence when I went to an “Independent Financial Advisor” I guess I expected to be advised on how to invest my money, not how to line their pockets with commissions. I was even advised by this particular advisor that AES was or was owned by a “UK Private Bank and therefore we follow the same regulatory standards as the UK, which compared to all of the other companies out which do not follow the same standards” yet ironically he sold me the same products… Interestingly from their email below the dislaimer states that “It is authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) in respect of its UK activities” Again ironically because they are promoting expat products? Yet arent most “expats” going to be outside of the UK

    I havent heard of many people being able to seek redress in the UAE on these products. It is sickening what these guys get away with. Especially with the Generali Plan I bought, I was specifically told that I could ” use it like a bank account, make withdrawals whenever I wanted, pay as little or as much each month, but when I put the amount up I just had to do it for a minimum of 3.6 months (5 year plan)” At one stage I was putting USD$5000 per month into this so imagine my fealing when I realised that in the 5 year plan that meant there was $18,000 in fees hence the 3.6 months…

    I thought I would share an email I sent to the apparent CEO of AES, in response to a marketing email where AES are now trying to promote business on the fact that ” other IFA’s” rip people off and contact them instead. Suprise, Suprise I did not get a response from him or anyone in AES, I think I have also been removed from their mailing list because I used to get advertising emails from them 🙂 I knew it wouldnt get me anywhere but it did feel good writing it! 🙂 By the way his apparent email address is samuel.instone@aesinternational.com if anyone else ripped off by AES wants to do the same…

    Thanks, hope to make it to your next Dubai seminar…


    Hi Samuel,

    I find it very hard to see publications like this from your company, when in fact I was completely mis-sold 2 of these products by one of your advisors in Dubai.

    I don’t even need to read your books, unfortunately I learned the hard way.

    Your (I believe he is now ex) employee (Mr. Zubair Abid) completely misrepresented himself, your company, and pretty much lied through his teeth to sell me these products. He even told me that AES “follows” the same regulations as the UK Financial Services Authority (as the parent company did) and I was in good hands with your company or some very careful play on words to the same effect.

    In any other jurisdiction he would have been lucky to escape prosecution and/or a lawsuit. When I confronted him about the fees in these products he could not even explain anything about how they work, or any solution, the only thing he knew was his pre-rehearsed sales techniques to pray on the financially naïve clients that he was supposed to be serving.

    I am down around USD$ 25,000 because of an IFA that was employed by your company’s lies!!! And I believe I got off relatively lightly compared to some of the people sold these products by companies in this profession – Including AES International!

    Is AES International going to do anything about its own customers that were mis-sold these products by IFA’s employed by AES International? Before preaching that it is exposing the other ‘dishonest’ IFA’s out there?

    If AES International actually acknowledge these truths, they should be looking back through their books and profits that have been made globally by selling these same products and lies that you are now apparently exposing and take some moral responsibility and compensate those affected by the same.

    Be very interested to even see a response to this mail…

    From a once very naive client who trusted your company to give me financial advice.

    Sent: Tuesday, 18 October 2016 1:51 AM
    Subject: Thanks for giving me 20% of your pension…

    You wouldn’t knowingly give away 20% of your pension, would you?

    You wouldn’t knowingly give away 20% of your pension, would you?
    So why do most expats hand over up to 20% of their pension to their IFA?
    The answer is simple: it’s because they don’t even know they have…
    Fortunately for anyone affected there are positive remedial steps that can be taken to prevent any damage from being compounded…unfortunately most people don’t even know they are affected.

    Fact #1: the international financial marketplace is under-regulated and provides rich pickings for financial salespeople; your pension is their biggest temptation
    Fact #2: IFAs can get payments of up to 20% of your investment when they sell you a pension – this money is taken directly from your money without you even realising it
    Fact #3: most expats aren’t even aware of these risks, let alone of the fact that the IFAs they trust to manage their money are the ones financially incentivised to mis-sell

    Even if you believe you’re not affected by the risk of financial mis-selling that’s rife abroad, unfortunately if you’ve made any form of financial commitment via a commission-based financial adviser* then you are affected.

    *(If you’re not sure whether your adviser was commission-based, the majority are…)
    As the biggest favour to your future self, download my five-minute industry exposé “How IFAs are paid to mis-sell pensions” and you will:
    • Understand how expat IFAs are financially incentivised to mis-sell
    • Discover if you’ve unknowingly been affected by mis-selling already
    • See the financial impact of mis-selling, and how it will affect your retirement unless you take specific action
    • Discover the 3 critical tactics that will protect you and your money
    • Learn everything you need to know to build and protect your pension
    Download now: How IFAs are paid to mis-sell pensions >>

    A word of warning

    I have written this exposé against legal advice; I know it will draw criticism from international financial consultancies and they may issue cease and desist threats via their lawyers as they have in the past. However, I’m used to that and I remain committed to stopping the damage being done to expats’ lives by pension mis-selling. I am also equally committed to stopping the damage being done to my profession by those determined to keep it an industry that sells high cost, low performing pensions for the financial salesperson’s own gain.

    Because those who consider themselves our competitors profit from the tactics I reveal, obviously they will not want you to read this exposé – so click here to download it before they try and force it offline.

    I believe our organisation’s approach to expatriate financial planning is unique, and together with the work being done by our team of Chartered Financial Planners, our approach is already delivering better returns to over 10,000 international investors. After you’ve read “How IFAs are paid to mis-sell pensions” I think you will understand how we can help you too.

    If you have any questions now or when you’ve read the exposé I invite you to get in touch with me personally. I also welcome you to challenge me on anything you read; I am willing and able to substantiate everything I have written.

    Your sincerely,

    Sam Instone
    CEO, AES International

    P.S. The risk of doing nothing is the biggest risk of all – don’t take that risk – download “How IFAs are paid to mis-sell pensions” and take the five minutes to read it – it will shock you, it may upset you, but it will also provide you with all the knowledge you need to protect your financial position now and into the future.

    AES Financial Services Ltd (“AESFSL”) is registered in England no. 06063185, its registered office being at 24 Elysium Gate, 126-128 New Kings Road, London SW6 4LZ. It is authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) in respect of its UK activities (which include all AES International’s financial promotions).

    • Cameron,

      Here’s what happened with AES International. They came into the Middle East with intentions to do business differently. They wanted to be the first company to offer reasonably priced products. They also wanted to be the first company to shun offshore pensions. But (as all people do, at some stage) they made a mistake. Here’s my best analogy of what happened. They attempted to build a brand new car. But instead of building the car with brand new parts, they took a few working parts from other cars (in the form of some small investment firms that they brought under the AES International hood). If Sam Instone could build a time machine, he would go back to this day and build his new car entirely from scratch. He said, “Nobody is going to sell crappy offshore pensions.” All of the employees that he freshly hired adhered to that principle. But some of the others (like old rusted parts) kept doing what they had been doing for years. When Sam found out, he fired them. He also told his staff that if anyone even dreams of selling an offshore pension, he wants them to leave.
      About 1 year later, about 75% of his advisors were gone: fired, or they left on their own accord because they wanted to sell lucrative offshore pensions. All of the staff that he hired from scratch (those new car parts) have remained to help build a business that they think is fair.
      Unfortunately, the person who sold you that offshore pension didn’t have a high degree of ethics. He would have sold that pension to you anyway, with his former company’s name on the statement, instead of the name of the new kid (at the time) on the block, AES International. There are two tragedies here. One, you were sold a piece of garbage by an unethical person and it cost you plenty. I wish I could personally string that person up on a tree, by his privates (I feel that way about anyone who sells this stuff). Second, a good firm got its name plastered over a bad firm’s logo, because that good firm (AES International) had an optimistic sense (perhaps a naive sense) of human nature. When they said, “Don’t sell these pensions,” they were trying to teach old dogs new tricks. It didn’t work.
      The crooks that were selling those pensions earned huge commissions from the insurance providers. Most of that commission goes directly to the salesperson. I don’t know how deep AES International’s pockets are. But I can guess that if they started to dig into their private coffers to pay hundreds of thousands of pounds that some dodgy salespeople earned (the broker gets a little, the salesperson gets a lot) then it might be the end of AES International. And that truly would be a tragedy, considering that they are the only firm in the Middle East that has taken a stand against offshore pensions. And their vehicle is now comprised on brand new parts, hired for the sole purpose of providing true financial planning and building portfolios of index funds.

      I do wish them well. But I am also gutted by what happened to your money. By educating others, I hope we can make those insurance products extinct.


      • Cameron says:

        Thanks Andrew and all others for your comments on this.

        I have actually been contacted by AES International regarding this matter (maybe they do monitor this website and its comments 🙂 ), and who are investigating “my online complaint” currently and have issued what I would call some preliminary “findings”.

        I want to get my facts with them completely straight on this before I post further and will do so in due course.

        Again thanks everyone for your comments and support.


      • Gordon says:

        they are not the only company Andrew 🙂

        I also heard the Joe is no longer working for Holborn as his name appears to have been removed, also his dynamic website does not seem to be operational.

  8. Cameron says:

    Sorry I meant to say above… cant recommend your book “enough” to people starting out and wanting to do some investing of their own. (Global Expatriates Guide to Investing).. Its a great easy read.


    • Robert says:

      Sorry to hear this Cameron. I personally am still concerned about AES as a friend of mine had the same experience as yourself (and he has friends which followed his lead). He had been encouraged to open with Zurich and 40% of his money was invested in Thailand stocks (I verified this). Sam meet with my friend and apparently (I was not there) he was a little defensive of the plan.

      But clearly whatever Sam Instone’s intentions for his company are, he clearly can not keep on top of the policies that AES clients have been/are placed into by his employees (or chooses to ignore the fact that some AES customers are currently in septic seven plans). He also can not oversee the funds/trackers that they are placed into and as such in my humble opinion they should be used with caution. I mean even in this example my friend was placed into 40% Thai stocks, 20% gold, 40% Euro and American small cap, so even if we ignore the fact he was in the septic seven, it was still a poor portfolio allocation.

      I sincerely hope that AES can get on top of all of this but for the jury is still out.

      • Robert,

        I think you should look at the message I sent Cameron. AES International doesn’t sell offshore pensions. Advisors who were brought in (annexed) from previous firms used to sell them. But those advisors are now all gone. Rest assured, nobody using AES International today will be sold an offshore pension.


        • Jen says:

          Yes-it is so terrible what those few people did. Although I manage my own portfolio through Saxo–I was going to try spread risk by opening with another like Td direct–but the thought I’d open the index Fund with AES and put money in and even though the fees are higher than doing it alone I’d have peace of mind knowing it was being balanced etc and I’d not worry abt it–then I read these comments on here and got nervous. And meanwhile AES is not like that. It’s a pity they did not answer on here themselves as well. Thanks Andrew for explaining things.

          • Hi Jen,

            The DIY method is the cheapest.

            I’m guessing AES has better things to do than scroll finance blogs for comments on posts 🙂 But who knows? Maybe a PR person does keep an eye out for that kind of thing. It would be a pretty boring job!


  9. Stuart says:

    Andrew, I am one of many friends Cameron (above) recommended to read your book. It induced 1 litre of vomit and 1 litre of relief in equal parts; and by “vomit” I mean I can’t believe I was so stupid and duped so easily! “Relief” because you explain it very well and illustrate a path towards recovery.

    What inspired me to contribute to this thread is that I was listening to Tim Searle of GlobalEye on the radio a few mornings ago and I don’t think he was even convinced by the nonsense coming out of his mouth. The DJ’s rightly challenged him (but not enough) on the integrity of his team and ensuring they had customer’s interests at heart.

    The maths has clearly been dealt with by posters above by I’ll recount my experience of the sale and psychology. I think Cameron’s analogy was best. When you go to a doctor, you have to trust him to give you the right advice. I don’t want to have to second guess him. It would be like buying a plane ticket and then doing my due diligence on the competency of the pilot!

    The “financial advisor” I dealt with was Azmat Hussein from GlobalEye in Dubai. He appears to have since got out of GlobalEye and now does recruiting for the finance industry. “Az” was actually a really nice guy on a personal level – I suppose they all are – but he wasn’t aggressive in his approach. He wanted to be your friend first, “financial advisor” second.

    Where I was naive was that I trusted he had a good heart and that he’ll win by me winning. I didn’t ask the questions I needed to ask but, and it’s a big BUT, he revealed very little about the product itself. He drew a nice chart with pretty numbers and my wife and I thought, great! The fact that it was a massively inferior product definitely escaped his lips and I was subsequently sold, hook-line-sinker.

    When Cameron explained what happened to me, I obviously went postal over email to GlobalEye. Their legal officer got involved in the correspondence. In spite of hundreds, perhaps thousands of words, I can summarize their response into one sentence, “you signed up for it sir”. They had no response whatsoever when I called them on the fact that the full details and mechanics of the policy were not explained in any way whatsoever.

    My current policy is valued at $28k and I probably have 20 or 21 years left. My surrender penalty will be about $21k. I’ve reduced the monthly installment to $300. I believe the right thing to do is to surrender in full.

    GlobalEye, like others, are a cancer to Dubai Expats and anytime this subject comes up, I get so aggravated and advise anyone I come across to not make the same mistake I did.

    • Stuart says:

      P.S. Az also flat out lied about one thing. He said I would be able to make a full withdrawal of the full policy after 18 months, no penalty. I covered this ground more than once because we were looking to buy an apartment so I wanted to know I had access to funds. I addressed this on email too but “you signed up for it sir”.

    • Stuart says:

      P.S. Az also flat out lied about one thing. He said I would be able to make a full withdrawal of the full policy after 18 months, no penalty. I covered this ground more than once because we were looking to buy an apartment so I wanted to know I had access to funds. This was the wildly unethical part of the whole sale.

    • Stuart says:

      P.S. He also flat out lied about one thing. He said I would be able to make a full withdrawal of the full policy after 18 months, no penalty. I covered this ground more than once because we were looking to buy an apartment so I wanted to know I had access to funds. This was the wildly unethical part of the whole sale.

      • Jen says:

        U know I can almost forgive the guys who sold these years back-bcos I think the sales people themselves might very well have been quite ignorant about products–but in the last 5 yr’s–there is just no excuse! And even more so in the M.E. bcos they know things r not regulated like in home countries, expats r desperate to do something with their earnings, few options available etc…..and they deliberately and knowingly mislead and fleece this group of people!!! It is a plotted and carefully planned invasion of finance innocent people!!

  10. Gav says:

    Andrew, thanks for the post. I wanted to share my own situation and just ask for clarity of the best way forward. i signed up for a FPI Premier Advance plan on $3,400 per month. I’m now into my 4th year, I have invested $132,000 to date and the policy is valued at $161,000 but as we know this is a fictional value. When I look at the spread of my money across 7 funds then I’m actually fairly happy with the spread and risk is spread. However, what I’m slowing getting my head around is that the percentage running costs annually and along with the fact that the first 18 months payments which is $61k is effectively lost money no matter what I do. I just wanted to confirm that even with these type of numbers then the best option is to fully surrender, in my head this means I will receive a lump sum back from FPI that will be a significant amount down on the amount paid in. If I’m right them the amount that I receive back will be based on the multiplication between the unit price and the number of accumulation units, therefore, timing the exit at a time where the unit price is higher is in favour, some of the funds such as emerging equities have been trending well, month on month for the last year or so.

    If I do want to close the account and cut all loses if that is my best option then how do I go about it, is it a case of going back through the financial advisor? I’m still in regular contact and we have met recently to switch some funds around and re-allocate.

    Like many above all I thought I had to do was make sure I kept it going for at least 18 months and then after that I would have access to my money if I needed it for a house purchase or any large scale purchase, I can’t believe I was so stupid.

    Also in terms of your various books that I have seen mentioned, do you have one that is a good first read in terms of getting ready to set this up on my own and avoid another one of these horrible plans.

    • toony says:

      Gav, no doubt you have seen my first post in this thread so have some idea of the situation you are in.
      It’s good to hear you understand about the hidden upfront costs (which are sunk) so we can head straight to the repair/damage minimisation part. My recommendation is to always ‘full surrender’ – the longer you stay, the more damage that occurs.
      You didn’t mention the contract length so I’m guessing they stitched you up for 20 or 25 yr plan to maximise commission. My estimation: $110-120k is the ‘full surrender’ value. The lost is not too great given the great bull run of the current decade.
      Saving $3.4k/month will grow to >$2M at a modest 5% growth, in 25 years. However, the running costs of these plans are 4-5%, meaning they will effectively ‘skim’ $1.3M from your account, leaving you 600-700k at the end! The fees are so devastating that I have only ever seen 1 plan break even after 10 years and NO ONE has EVER seen a 10 year plan keep up with inflation!
      Don’t switch ANY funds (cancel the switch orders if you can). They will constantly prompt you to switch fund to bleed extra $ from you. The ‘no switching’ fees is purposely misleading. It’s all hidden in the massive spread! You immediately lose up to 5% of trade value for each and EVERY purchase/switch you make!
      Yes, refund is roughly based on unit price x accumulation units ONLY. Timing exit has zero impact as should be investing again in your own portfolio.
      To get out:
      1. Go to ‘IFA’ and inform them you would like to close account & request for ‘full surrender’ value.
      2. Resist their attempts to keep you in the trap and continue paying into the policy.
      3. They will delay closing account as long as possible to squeeze as much trialing commission from your account – go straight to FPI if they take more than 1 month
      4. Buy both Andrew’s book while waiting. Learn basic financial principles & how to build your own DIY portfolio so no ‘financial’ advisor can steal from you again (hint: if you are able to deposit/withdrawl money from your bank account without the manager holding your hands -> DIY will be a cinque!)
      Get both of Andrew’s books.
      Teachers -> understanding basic financial/investment/economic principles
      Expat -> step by step guide for expats for DIY portfolio
      Remember, when it comes to your money, channel Fox Mulder -> ‘Trust No One’!

      • Gav says:


        Thanks for the response, I have now read one of Andrews books “9 rules they should teach you in school” and have the other waiting. It now seems so clear and is well put across. Like everything though its just a little awkward to get started and as you can imagine I’m not wanting to make mistakes again. SAXO bank looks like a good option for me as a UK expat living in the UAE getting paid in AED. My challenge is finding index funds or more likely ETF’s on SAXO banks platform of available funds that would give me the balanced portfolio of exposure to a global stock, UK stock and then a UK government bond. Andrews book makes a lot of reference to Vanguard and fund codes for their various options, I’m struggling to find the equivalent funds available on SAXO Bank. Also I likely now have the dilemma of currency to deal in and for my account.

        Any thoughts or help greatly appreciated.


  11. Kris says:

    Hi Andrew – Great articles and blog – just wish I had seen them a few years ago!

    I have only recently woken up to the issues discussed here and I am feeling pretty annoyed with myself. Have been paying into a 34-year Zurich Vista scheme since 2001 (started in Hong Kong) with the intention of this providing my pension pot – guess I get the prize for the longest duration plan / stitch-up so far!

    Spent years with the fund value showing less than I paid in and put that down to bad fund selection and market crashes, but now also starting to appreciate the full impact of the many hidden charges and commissions. My IFA even persuaded me to increase the monthly premiums in order to benefit from the bonus allocations (which I have now been doing for over 2 years), a bonus which it now appears gets eaten away by the extra fees anyway!!

    I am in a similar boat to some of the guys above, namely trying to decide whether to cash in now or carry on, perhaps with reduced premiums???

    Total amount paid to-date 234k and after all these years the current fund value is only 280k!!! The encashment value shown on the statement is 236k with 17 years left to run… so a hit of 44k – not sure if that is the real cost of getting out early or if there are yet more hidden charges – would really appreciate your thoughts on the best way forward!

    • Kris says:

      Contacted Zurich directly and got the numbers for withdrawal and reduced premiums. Now thinking about withdrawing the maximum partial surrender (USD 165k) and reducing the premiums to the minimum (USD 150/m) without incurring penalties and extra charges.
      The plan is to put the USD 165k into ETFs and run the Vista plan to the end.
      Any thoughts on whether this is a sensible approach or is this really just throwing good money after bad…?

      • Hi Kris,

        Most of the time, when doing the math, people learn that it is a process of tossing good money after bad. Here’s how you can figure it out yourself. You’ll need the following information:

        1. How much time is left on the policy?
        2. How much money would you receive if you went for a full withdrawal today?

        Once you have this information, you need to calculate the following scenarios. Let’s assume, for the sake of your comparison, a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds makes 7 percent per year for the duration of your plan (you could play with any percentage figure you want, this part won’t make a difference because, what we apply to scenario 1, we also apply to scenario 2.

        Scenario 1: Money remaining, after you withdraw $165,000, becomes your current principle. Based on information you provided, let’s assume it’s $115,000. Use the compound interest calculator at moneychimp.com. Next, assume an interest rate (annual profit gain) of 7% per year, minus annual charges of 4.5% per year. In other words, if the markets earned 7% per year, on aggregate, a policy like yours would earn about 2.5% per year (7% market return, minus 4.5% in fees equals 2.5% return). With the compound interest calculator, now add the annual additions for the remaining duration of your policy. If that’s $150 per month for 17 years enter $1,800 per year under the “annual addition” column. Press “calculate” and you’ll get an overly high sum. I say “overly high” because part of the internal fee structure actually gets set on the maximum amount you agreed to deposit each month. Even when you back off deposits, the dollar figure representing the fees charged by Zurich will remain where they were when you paid the maximum amount. That’s why it will be very tough to calculate the end value properly, and any value we use would be overstated. But let’s go ahead anyway. If $115,000 were left invested at 2.5% per year, with an additional $1,800 a year added over the next 17 years, the end value would be $213,481. Once again, it would really end up being less than this because your fee structure from Zurich will remain based on the highest annual contribution level.

        Scenario 2:
        Assume you sold everything, taking a full withdrawal. The initial duration of your plan is the longest I have ever seen. You know what your total withdrawal penalty would be. I don’t. Assume you took the full withdrawal, closing the account.

        Take the money remaining and enter that into the compound interest calculator as “current principle”. For interest rate, take the market’s return (assuming 7%) and withdraw 0.15% in fees for a portfolio of ETFs. In such a case, your rate of return would be 6.85% per year. Now add the same $1,800 per year for the same duration you used in scenario 1. Then press calculate. You’ll then get an idea of how this money would have grown if you completely ditched the Zurich plan.

        Now look at the figures at the end of scenario 1 and 2. In which scenario would you have a higher total in the end? Keep in mind that scenario 1 would also be overstated because the dollar figure of the fee structure set by Zurich would have been established, permanently, at the maximum amount you were depositing.


        • Kris says:

          Thanks Andrew.

          I really appreciate you taking the time to respond.

          The policy durations and remaining fund value were mentioned in my original linked message from a few months back. I will plug the latest data into the scenarios you mention and see what pops out.



          • Kris,

            I amended my comment, using 17 years left on your plan.
            So…to get this right, a full withdrawal would leave you with how much remaining?

          • Kris says:


            Latest fund value USD 272k, current encashment value quoted as USD 232k and partial surrender valued at USD 165k.

            So encashment charge is USD 40k and for what its worth amount paid to date USD 253k!!!



          • Kris,

            OK…so you would receive $232K if you cashed in everything today, taking into account the $40,000 penalty. If you invested $232,000, earning a 6.85% annual return in a portfolio of index funds (assuming a pre-fee return of 7%) and if you added $1,800 a year for 17 more years, you would have $774,098.

            Scenario 2: Assume you took out $165,000 (your maximum, penalty-free amount) investing this at 6.85% for 17 years. This would give you $567,445. But you would also have some money left in Zurich ($107,000). If you added $1,800 a year to that, earning 2.5% per year, this would leave you with $201,308. Adding $201,308 to the $567,445, you would have $768,753.

            In this case, it would make more sense to take the full financial hit and get out right away.

            But here’s the part you have to keep in mind. I’ve understated the total fees of your Zurich account because, as mentioned previously, your fee structure will have permanently been set, based on the maximum amount you were depositing each month. Based on this math, you would end up with significantly less than $768,753 if you withdrew the maximum, penalty-free amount, investing it in index funds, while leaving the rest of the money to languish with Zurich.

            In case you’re curious, I wanted to show you something else. Assume you didn’t meet the snake selling the Zurich plan. If you invested a total of $253,000, over 17 years, you would have added an average of $14,882 per year. You can use portfoliovisualzer to see how that money would have grown.

            If it were invested 40% in US stocks, 40% in international stocks and 20% in US bonds (all index funds) you would have $512,681 by December 31, 2017, instead of the $272,000 you currently have.

            I’m not sure if you’ve read my latest investment book, published February 2018. If not, here’s the link: http://amzn.to/2CyIxqG


          • Kris says:

            Thanks Andrew

            That is a really helpful breakdown… sobering but helpful… 😉

            I have already got your book and will be using it to help select the right ETFs for me as a British expat settled in SE Asia.

            As I mentioned above, I just wish I had come across your book and this website earlier in my career. Will certainly be recommending them to friends and colleagues.



          • Kris,

            Please make sure you read the whole book (with the exception of the country-specific chapters that don’t apply to you). The overall philosophy and psychology behind such investing is much more important than the ETFs you pick. Good luck.


  12. James says:

    Fantastic blog and comments. Like others I wish I had discovered you 10 years ago.
    I too fell into buying a Zurich Vista policy in 2008 sold to me convincingly in Singapore by The Henley Group (Stephen Brooks), which has since been bought out by SJP. I was an innocent/naive expat in my late 20s trying to save for my future, and to be honest didn’t fully understand the implications of the monstrous fee/complex structure of the policy (I was not the only one amongst my circle of friends). I have been back in the UK for the past 4 years and have not paid into the policy in the past 5 years. I have spent the past year complaining to SJP UK claiming that I was mis-sold the policy (on the grounds that the fees were not disclosed to me) to try and get my funds out penalty free, but no surprise I have not got anywhere. I keep getting referred to the Singapore financial regulator.
    Long story short, I am losing interest in fighting any longer, and after research/reading yr blog and chain of comments above have made the decision to surrender the policy in full so I can move what is left of it into passive/index linked/low fee structure funds/ETFs, and start earning some real money. The fund has stagnated and the fees just dilute the policy further. So it has not really grown at all in the past 6-7 years as the 5-6% fees just eat away at any growth.
    The numbers are: today’s fund value £71k, contributions £58k, surrender value £46k. So a £25k hit in total, or £12k loss on my original contributions.
    My main concern is surrendering the policy and the tax implications in doing so? Would you be able to guide me on this? Or in which book you cover this topic? My assumption is that as I invested taxed income in Singapore and that I will take out less than I invested, I should not be exposed to any capital gains tax. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated. I have just ordered the Millionaire Teacher which will arrive shortly.
    I think once I have surrendered, I would be keen to join any group action against Zurich which I have seen mentioned on the FB page.
    Many thanks and keep up the great work.

    • Hi James,

      I’m sorry to hear this, but it’s a very common story, so don’t beat yourself up. You won’t have to pay taxes if you fully surrender because you won’t have earned a profit.
      Now that you’re in the UK, you could invest any future money with Vanguard UK.


  13. Bruno David says:

    Hello Andrew
    I’m reading your book and got spooked after checking my funds invested in via Zurich Vista.
    I would like to ask something about reducing the monthly contributions. I know that charges would still be based on the initial or highest contribution, but what are the charges and how do they apply? That’s not clear to me in the zurich brochures…

    Also, the terms and conditions provided to me by the advisor had MISSING PAGES, particularly the ones regarding charges and fund fees… That’s shocking.

    I want out, desperately, but want to minimize or eliminate any losses, i’ve been mislead.

    Thank you for this post.

    • Hi Bruno,

      Unfortunately, the only way you can minimize losses is to sell everything today. In the end, this will cost you far less money when you weigh in opportunity costs and fees.

      I’m sorry to have to tell you this. It hurts me every time.


  14. Trupti says:

    Hi Andrew, I am really schocked but also relieved that I am not the only one facing this situation. I was missold the policy by a friend’s husband for a term of 15years. He convinced me to buy two plans Zurich Vista and Futura. I was naive enough to trust that someone who you know won’t cheat you for your hard earned money. I am trying to figure out a way to decrease the term of payment from 15years to 5 years and have been researching about it but it has been unsuccessful so far. Although my monthly contributions are only 500$ a month but I just realized that there is no growth and a lot of grey areas . I am an expat in Dubai and it’s a major risk that I have taken now I feel as one day god forbid if I have to leave the country I don’t know how I will manage to pay the next 12 years . Could you please guide me how can I request for a reduced term of the plan ? Thank you.

    • Hi Trupti,

      Regardless of what your statement says (in terms of the value of your plan) it’s actually worth even less. The salesperson has already been paid the full commission up front, and the firm will want to recoup that by penalizing you for withdrawing early, or by penalizing you even more (when you keep it in, they take even more money in fees, over time). As painful as it is, the best thing to do is to sell everything and take the financial hit. There’s no way around that, unfortunately. If you can borrow this book, it will help you establish a good plan going forward.


  15. Paul Rhys says:

    My grandmother used to call this sort of thing “learning money”. The only good thing about being about to take a $25,000 hit for jumping out of my Vista policy is that it has finally made me sit up and take my finances seriously instead of just sitting up and panting as Leighton Jones of Guardian Wealth Management in Qatar sells my idiotic 2011 self a dud.
    If anything new has happened that makes this worth fighting then please let me know. I saw in the Facebook group that Niccolo had filed a GDPR Data Portability request to try to get his money back – is that doomed to failure? Many thanks. Book is about to be bought. Tony Robbins’ one brought me here.

  16. Kathy Moore says:

    Hi Andrew, I have just come across your blog whilst trying to find out about the vista policy. I am an expat teacher in Spain and was sold a 24 year plan which now has 7 years to run. I’m afraid I have little understanding of finance and naively have been paying around 220€ a month into this for 17 years, now having just over 50,000€. Getting nearer to retirement I am just waking up to the fact that this doesn’t seem to be the best way to invest my money! As I seem to be paying in more than I am earning from it I am wondering if it would be best to surrender it fully and move the money to a pension account or just wait out the next 7 years? Any help or pointers where to find out more would be really appreciated.

  17. Tracey says:

    Hi Andy,

    I have a similar situation. I was misled in to taking out a zurich vista policy in the UAE. I was trying to be sensible and save for the future. Now I obviously know the product is useless. Should I walk away. I will be down about £18,000. Is there any way of getting some of this back?

    I was talking into taking a product at a high rate to get an introductory bonus and reducing it after 18 months which I now know is not without it’s penalties. I made it very clear that the high rate of payment was not sustainable over time and led to believe I could lower or stop paying in whenever I wanted.

    Any advise?

  18. Chris says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Thank you for these useful advises! I Unfortunately I also signed up for a Generali vison plan (unit linked regular premium) in the UAE.
    My monthly contribution is 2.2K USD over a period of 25 years. My initial period is 24 months I have completed 18 months. I have received a joining ‘bonus’ of 4.4K USD. The current valuation is 44K USD. The surrender value is 1.2K USD.
    Given the high fees (approx. 5.5%) over the entire period what is your recommendation?
    Many thanks.

    Kind regards,

  19. Cyriac says:

    Hi ,
    My name is Cyriac Jose, I am an Indian national working in UAE. I have 2 policies with Zurich since 2014. One is Vista and Future. At the time of joining Financial advisor from Nexus brokers told me that I can port it anywhere. Recently we got immigrant visa in the US and we are moving to there. Since I go there I asked Zurich to switch my policies to their US operations , but they refused. As per them they will not continue my policy active and I can surrender and take what money they give to me. Their explanation is that their product is not registered in US, so they can’t receive further policy money from me or switch investment. They gave me 3 options 1) surrender and encashment ( i will lose 41k$ together)
    2) keep money as it is and take at the maturity. But it will cause financial charge deductions.
    3)transfer ownership to someone and pay.( Very difficult and not possible)

    In this case what would be the best way to deal with them. Can I approach Insurance Authority UAE or court?
    Please advise..
    Thank you
    Cyriac Jose

    • toony says:

      These products are ‘illegal’ for US citizen/residents hence can’t continue with them. This is actually a blessing in disguise – you have been taken for a very expensive ride!
      Option 1) is actually best. You need to get money back and invest properly. Get Andrew’s book and learn the basics otherwise you will keep falling to scams and lose a lot more than $41K next time!
      Ignore 3) No one in their right mind would buy these policies and you don’t want to pass the pain onto someone else.
      DO NOT CHOOSE 2) although they will persuade you to! Fine print allows them to keep bleeding account at full contract rate. There’s a good chance you will lose 100% of all your money through fees before contract ends! They will pretend to reduce the ‘exit fees’ for every year to stay longer. It’s all financial trickery. Every $1 they reduce the surrender fees by, they will take ~$1.50 via other fees so your loses will keep growing until they empty your account or you finally realise what’s happening and full surrender! Either take the 41K hit now and much BIGGER hit in the future.
      Very tough and expensive to take legal actions and they know it. There’s various nasty delaying tactics avail to them and it may cost you >$100K in legal fees and emotional toll with only a small chance of winning.
      The best thing you can do is pay-it-forward and warn others like I’m doing for you. Have it on good authority that NRI is prime target in 2019.

  20. Rod says:

    I myself took out a zurich vista 5 years ago and on a friends advice I had a meeting with AES last year, the adviser i met told me to surrender my plan and put the money on their platform. Whatever was recommended had a 1.5% management fee attached with it anyway, so what are the advantages here then other than I can cancel and take my money whenever I want, which i’m not convinced actually is a benefit for a pension. Before I left I moved my old pensions together with SJP and I cant touch that until i’m 55 either … So what are the other benefits in collapsing a vista plan and taking a penalty if the plan still appears to be up?

    • Hi Rod,

      You mention that you have been investing in a Zurich Vista plan for five years, so let me give you a benchmark:

      Over the past 5 years, ending February 28, 2019, the global stock market index has gained 39.4%. The U.S. stock market index has gained 63.62%. Based on the onerous fees associated with the Zurich Vista platform, it would be almost impossible to have recorded gains that matched the U.S. or global stock market indexes. Over long periods of time, your fees will substantially anchor your returns and you won’t likely beat inflation. As such, it makes sense to cancel your plan, take the financial hit, and move your money to a diversified portfolio of index funds.

      To get another opinion, you can join about 3000 other expats at this Facebook group, and ask them what they think: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SimplyFI/

      Or you could join about 4000 other expats at this facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/445218675653782/

      And then you could ask the same question that you have asked me.

      To understand this more fully, you might also want to borrow a copy of my book for expat investors. Here’s the link to the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Millionaire-Expat-Wealth-Living-Overseas/dp/1119411890


      • Rod says:

        Hi Andrew,

        Thank you for the quick response, I understand what you’re trying to get at and as a trader myself I have a vague idea about market movements however the figures you’ve kicked out are based on a lump sum of money being invested 5 years ago, which i haven’t done. What indexs would you recommend for fixed income and diversifying outside of global equity? Also how is money on a platform with a series of ETFs taxed? And does your method require me to set up a platform and then log in every month and purchase a series of ETFs? And my point about AES was that they’re promoted on this site however I don’t see a benefit to what i already have apart from a hefty surrender penalty and then a management charge which isn’t too different to what i already have it just seems to be a different coloured bat that i’m being hit with …

        • Hi Rod,

          Your total fees with Zurich Vista are more than triple the total fees with AES. Zurich vista’s total fees would be 25 times higher, annually, than building your own portfolio of ETFs. Borrow a copy of my book, Millionaire Expat, to see an array of portfolio models.


  21. Fel says:

    Hi Andrew, is the futura as bad as the vista?

    • toony says:

      Yes!!! Please do not touch it or ANYTHING that mentions “whole-life” or has a savings/investment component!

      If you need life insurance, get TERM – NEVER mix life insurance and investing! For expats, the only 2 reasonable ones are Zurich TERM assurance and the FPI International protector.

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