information for global expats

Wealth Management for Expats in Thailand

Submitted: August 2014

There is a growing private banking industry in Thailand. Private banking services may be available from local banks as well as foreign banks, unlike personal banking services.

Do not assume that private banking is only for multimillionaires. In Thailand, you could consider applying for any premium-like services if your assets total at least USD30,000.


Should you look for private banking services?

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.

Common reasons for signing up to private banking in Thailand include:

  • Rude, unfriendly or discriminatory staff in the personal banking department
  • Unavailability of adequate financial services in the basic personal banking package.


Finding the right deal

When you are offered a financial product from a wealth manager, you should anyway check:

  • Product transparency, especially with regard to the underlying risk
  • Fee structure – this should be clear enough from the beginning
  • If you understand the product at all – if not, you had better walk away.

Instead of opting for a commission-based pricing structure, you might wish to consider fee-based private banking services. This option can be helpful if you need to ensure service quality and if your investable wealth is high enough.

In Thailand, commission-based pricing structures are still reported to be the main rule. The advisory segment has yet to develop.


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:

  • The impact of the Thai foreign exchange controls
  • If your stay in Thailand affects your ability to invest in some jurisdictions
  • Social security arrangements in your host country
  • Effects of international mobility on your pension
  • Your residency status for income tax purposes
  • Asset protection
  • Foreign exchange exposure
  • Inheritance law considerations, and
  • Inheritance tax planning.

It is essential to check if your wealth manager is qualified enough to deal with your specific cross-border issues. As an expat in Thailand, a Thai wealth manager is likely to be the most qualified to help you optimise your finances during your stay in Thailand. This applies no matter if you are already the client of an offshore private bank.

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.

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



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