Recently, I received an email from a British couple.

They had invested in a Zurich International Vista plan. These are extraordinarily profitable for a salesperson to flog. As such, they have spread like pandemics among global expatriates. British investors tend to be the most likely victims.

The couple that emailed me is locked in to their investment plan until 2026. They have withdrawn all that they can, without paying a penalty. But they have $168,000 SGD remaining in the plan. If they withdraw this remaining sum, Zurich will penalize them. Instead of the couple receiving their full $168,000, the company would keep $75,600 as an early withdrawal penalty.

No, it isn’t fair.

But the person who sold this policy to the couple earned a massive commission from Zurich International. To recoup that commission, Zurich needs to keep this couple’s money with the firm, as long as possible.

This couple is stuck. They don’t want to pay a $75,600 penalty.

So instead of withdrawing the funds, they plan to keep the money with Zurich—without adding another penny, of course. But here’s the problem. Many of the advisors selling such policies are concerned with one thing: massive commissions. Few are trained to build diversified portfolios.

So nightmares compound for their clients. I gave plenty of examples of this, in my book, The Global Expatriate’s Guide To Investing. When commission-hungry sales reps sell such products, they usually do so with charts showing impressive, historical returns. They look at the funds that have done well in the recent past. And they tempt their potential clients: “You see, these funds are returning 15% per year. We can get you into these, and you’ll make great returns.”

Unfortunately, tomorrow’s winning geographic area (and the stocks associated with that region) continue to change. Looking to the past, and expecting that to be a prologue to the future, is foolish. But that’s exactly what many of these advisors do.

Investors who are stuck with expensive policies, such as Zurich International Vista, may need to take matters into their own hands. If their advisors aren’t capable of building  diversified portfolios from the products offered by Zurich, then the investors must.

Instead of speculating, British couples can build a diversified portfolio of British stocks, Global stocks, and British or Global bonds. A good rule of thumb suggests that investors should keep a bond allocation that’s roughly equivalent to their age. That means a 40-year old couple would build a portfolio comprising 30% to 40% of its total in bonds. Bonds don’t earn great returns. But they add plenty of stability when stock markets plunge.

And when stocks fall heavily (and they do, from time to time) bond prices usually rise. Once a year, the investor would need to rebalance their portfolio. Selling off some of the winners, to buy some of the losers. Doing so is psychologically tough. But it’s important.

It ensures that you are always a little bit greedy when others are fearful, and fearful when others are greedy.



Here’s a diversified Zurich International Vista portfolio for a British couple between 35 and 45 years of age.



Investment Class

Fund Name

Total Fund Expense Ratio


British Government Bonds




Global Bonds

ZI Threadneedle Sterling Bond Fund




ZI Fidelity International Bond Fund


+0.75% ZIL








Global Stocks

BlackRock Global Funds, Global Equity



British Stocks

BlackRock Global Funds, United Kingdom Equity



Notice that I provided two choices for bonds. Unfortunately, both are expensive. Bond funds should be cheap because bond returns are low.

After fees, over time, these two bond funds will likely just tread water. Should you avoid bonds then? If you choose to do so, add lower cost bonds to an alternative account. Don’t forsake bonds entirely, no matter what. Even if they don’t earn decent returns, they will provide portfolio stability. And when markets plunge, rebalancing (by selling some of your bonds) will provide your account with some rocket fuel when stocks recover.

Of course, I don’t recommend that you invest with Zurich International.

The fees are too high. Including platform costs and management fees, total portfolio costs will average about 4% per year. But if you’re stuck in such a platform, and don’t want to pay high redemption fees, you might as well build a responsible portfolio.

 For those wanting something better: The Global Expatriate’s Guide To Investing shows how to build a global portfolio costing 0.2% or less.

 Image courtesy of pixabay.com