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Wealth Management for Expats in Australia

Submitted: August 2013

Generally speaking, you should look for a wealth manager if you think you need help with financial planning. A financial institution is prone to offer you more sophisticated services when you are or get wealthier. These services range from traditional lending or investment management to inheritance tax planning or asset protection.

The Australian wealth management industry is largely dominated by the Big Four banks, although there are smaller wealth management firms.

Issues for expatriates

Financial planning complexity increases dramatically when you become an expatriate, as additional cross-border issues must be taken into account. These include, but are not limited to:

It is essential to check if your wealth manager is qualified enough to deal with your specific cross-border issues. In particular, it is very important to assess your Australia-specific needs, as a foreign wealth manager may not have the adequate skills to address them.

However, you don’t necessarily need an Australian wealth manager, especially if you already have a one with the appropriate qualifications in your home country.

In all cases, be wary of:

  • Language issues
  • Cultural differences, and
  • How contactable your wealth manager is.

US taxpayers

It may be harder for US citizens to find a relevant wealth manager outside the US. This is because US citizens remain subject to US tax rules, even when they are resident outside the US. Thus, a financial product which is tax-efficient for Australians is not necessarily tax-efficient for US citizens resident in Australia. Consequently, US taxpayers have US-specific needs which interact with their Australian needs.

If you are a US taxpayer, you are likely to need a specialist wealth manager, i.e. with the appropriate qualifications to advise US citizens resident in Australia.

 

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