Working with clients in Latin America, one of the main questions I’m asked is “In what currency and where should I keep my savings and investments?”.
With growing political and economic instability in the Latin America region, it has become even more important to establish and implement a clear, long term financial plan.
In recent weeks we have been working hard with both our international, and an ever increasing number of local clients, to help them improve their financial planning.
Many are looking to move their local savings and investments to a safer location and currency (such as USD). Doing so will guard against the current political instability and protect assets from local currency inflation or devaluation.
We have already seen capital restrictions placed on people’s money in parts of South America and, while this is not certain to happen everywhere – it is a realistic possibility. Better to take action now and not run the risk of having your money frozen and potentially at the mercy of the government.
Below are some important points to consider when consolidating your assets:
We recommend keeping the equivalent of between 3-6 months of your monthly outgoings in cash at the bank. This can be kept in the local currency, though in times of potential high inflation, it may be advisable to hold these savings in USD or a blend of the two.
Consolidate core assets in a global currency
Latin America has a long history of political uncertainty, currency volatility and periods of high inflation. For this reason, it is generally recommended that investors hold a large proportion of their financial assets outside of Latin America in a stable global currency such as the USD.
Invest in a jurisdiction and institution that offers the highest level of investor protection. One of the key aspects we consider when choosing geographical locations for our client’s assets, is how the institutions are structured and how the client’s assets are protected against institutional failure and other unforeseen events.
We only use institutions that segregate client assets from their own, also known as Ring-Fencing. This is where financial institutions are required to segregate 100% of account holder assets from their own operating accounts. All client assets are held by a custodian with the sole purpose of protecting them. This ensures that they are not at risk in the case that an institution experiences any financial difficulty. With this structure in place, an institution cannot use client assets to support their own needs in any circumstances.
The current global pandemic has made us all aware of our own mortality and more clients are asking serious questions such as “What happens to my assets, if I die?” and “How will this affect the income and lifestyle of my family?”.
It is essential that your financial plan is built on solid foundations to ensure it is sufficiently robust to cover any eventuality.
This should include centralising your estate into a location and structure that allows your dependents to seamlessly access income in the event of your death, without delay.
We frequently come across individuals who have assets held in multiple countries and institutions that have onerous probate laws as well as inheritance tax liabilities that investors are unaware of. The United States is an obvious example, where US Estate tax (between 18% – 40%) may apply on death to US held investments over the value of just US$60,000.
Each of these issues can be easily resolved and we have helped many of our clients to simplify and consolidate their investment assets in this way.
With the ever-increasing global movement of workforces, it is important to ensure you hold your assets in jurisdictions and with institutions that allow for easy management and access to your money no matter where you are in the world. This allows you to maintain consistency in your financial plan and benefit from the previous points no matter where you reside.
Now, more than ever, it is important to understand the implications that unexpected events can have on your financial future. By taking these simple steps to structure your finances correctly, you can protect yourself and your loved ones against these events – leaving you to concentrate on living the life you want to live now and in the future.