Financial Advisors: Friend or foe?

Melb magazine, December 2013 edition

There is a widespread perception amongst the general public that financial advisors are rogues and not to be trusted, and this is particularly apparent when the subject of discussion is expat financial advisors working in Thailand. This is unfortunate as good financial advisors certainly do exist, and many people would benefit greatly from receiving competent and unbiased financial advice from them.

One problem that I often encounter involves expats who are paid in Thailand but who are advised to invest offshore, sometimes in so-called ‘tax havens’ and/or via quite complex investment vehicles. In many cases, considering all the various costs, benefits and risks involved, this is a bad move for the investor.  One factor that must be considered in such situations are the benefits offered by Thailand’s taxation regime – such as for example the tax concessions related to investment in long-term mutual funds.

If you are considering using a financial advisor you should undertake research about both the company and the individual from which you intend to receive advice. This can be as simple as using ‘Google’, and also searching through relevant discussion threads in online forums. Be sure to determine exactly what qualifications, licenses and accreditation are held by the financial advisor. Some good background information to help you with this process is available at http://international-adviser.com/news/asia/thai-expat-focussed-advisory-firms-consider

And remember that it is important, regardless of whether or not you choose to use a financial advisor, to learn as much as you can about financial planning and different types of investments before committing yourself. My book, ‘Your Investment Guide to Thailand’ is a particularly helpful resource in this regard. Those working in Thailand should also study the Thai tax system, and a good starting point is a free guidebook produced by PriceWaterhouse Coopers – refer www.pwc.com/en_TH/th/tax/assets/2012/thai-tax-2012-booklet.pdf

 

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