Foreign Exchange in Expatland – What You Should Know

 

Whether you’ve just started your new life in Expatland or are looking to move back to your country of origin, the need will undoubtedly arise to exchange foreign currency.

Your personal circumstances will determine why you need to exchange currency, the frequency by which you transact and the volume. A currency need will typically arise from:

  • Transferring life savings
  • Selling and/or buying a property in your country of origin and/or Expatland
  • Pensions transfers
  • Repatriating income
  • Investing in assets domiciled in Expatland
  • Sending money home to friends and/or family

So what should you be aware of when converting your currency and sending or receiving cross-border payments?

  1. Are you really getting the best rate?

You trust your bank with your day-to-day banking needs so surely they must be the best option for your foreign currency and international payments needs? The reality is however, that for retail clients the daily buy/sell rates set by the banks often include a cost to transact plus additional sending and receiving fees.

By doing your research and venturing beyond the banking relationship to an alternative foreign exchange provider like XE Money Transfer, you’ll find that you will be able to take advantage of a much higher rate of exchange and no transfer fees – saving you thousands of dollars on your international money transfers.

  1. Protect yourself from currency risk on high value transactions

When making high value transactions that occur over a longer period of time, you may want to mitigate currency risk by locking in a favourable rate of exchange.

Currency risk refers to the uncertainties faced by fluctuating exchange rates and can have a significant effect on the outcome you achieve when it comes to executing your currency conversion.

Contrary to what you may think, you are not restricted to simply accepting the spot rate you are given on the day.

At XE, we provide a range of risk management transactions from Market Orders to Forward Exchange Contracts (FECs) and more complex structure options and our team will be able to advise you on the right strategy to ensure you are getting the best rate of exchange and are not left at the mercy of exchange rate movements.

Handy Hints for Moving

 

Relocating to a new city or destination is an exciting yet daunting time for the individual, couple or family.

The best piece of advice you’ll hear, is to plan for your move well in advance. It will help to reduce the stress which can be overwhelming at times, especially if its your first venture into Expatland.

Tips on What to Do Before You Move

Declutter. It’s not only cathartic to do a clear out before the move but also makes perfect sense. It’s much more difficult and stressful to try and declutter when the packers are there. The packers can’t make those decisions for you, “Should that stay or should it go”?

Organise rubbish collection, garage sales and donations to thrift / charity shops in plenty of time before packing day. You’ll feel better for it and you’re not paying for transporting ‘stuff’ that you may very well throw out when you move into your new home.

Accept help when it’s offered from friends and family. Put your super cape away! It’s o.k. They want to help! Whether for child-minding duties, replenishing the mugs of tea or coffee or cooked meals, it all helps in reducing the stress. Especially on packing day.

If moving with children, get some small packing boxes in advance from the moving company. Let them draw on them, colour them in, write their names on them. They can pack those precious soft toys in preparation for the move. Imagine their excited faces when they recognize their own boxes arriving safe and sound at your new home.

Decide in advance what you will need to:

a) Take on the flight. Those items you’ll need immediately on arrival.

b) What might need to be sent airfreight (that can be expensive) but you can get access to it earlier than if it’s shipped seafreight.

c) Then what needs to go into storage at your destination until you find your new home.

Most important of all, choose an experienced, industry approved relocation company.

When the Relocation consultant has expat experience themselves, they understand and appreciate the stress and pressure that comes with the move. Remember they are your first port of call on this amazing journey, so you want to feel confident and happy with the service they offer.

Get that right at the start and they will assist and support you, listen to your concerns and advise you, as you embark on this exciting journey.

Written by:  Nuss Relocations

Importance of Corporate Travel Insurance

 

It is highly recommended that any Expat whose business involves overseas travel, should effect a Corporate Travel Insurance Policy.

A Corporate Travel Policy will provide coverage for overseas trips up to a duration of 26 weeks.

The scope of cover provided under this type of policy include Medical Expenses, Death & Capital Benefits, Loss or damage to Baggage, Electronic Equipment, Loss of Credit Cards, Theft of Money, Hire Car Excess Expenses, Loss of Deposits and Cancellation Charges, Kidnap, Extortion and Ransom.

Below are actual case studies of recent Medical Expenses Travel Insurance losses incurred whilst claimants were overseas. This reinforces the absolute necessity to protect yourself and your business from these exposures whilst undertaking business and associated leisure travel.

David (an Australian Resident) was insured under a Corporate Travel Insurance Policy while he was on a short-term working assignment in the Solomon Islands.  On 12/09/2017 he started feeling unwell with abdominal pain and presented himself to a local clinic.

Provisional diagnosis was infectious Gastroenteritis, acute abdominal rupture and appendicitis. There were no clinics available for the claimant to undergo diagnostic imaging and hence he was placed in an air ambulance and evacuated back to Australia.  The total amount of the claim was $57,527.37.

Edward attended an international business conference in the Philippines.  At the conclusion of the conference he stayed on for an additional week’s holiday.

During that holiday he was struck by a motorcycle and sustained multiple soft tissue and musculoskeletal injuries including left clavicle fracture, multiple fractures to left and right ribs, crush fracture of the 12th thoracic vertebrae and right shoulder ligament ruptures.  The total amount of the claim was $23,428.57.

Gerard, a 73-year-old director of an IT company, planned a 6-week overseas trip with his wife, to the USA commencing June 2017.  Unbeknown to him, at the time of embarking on the journey, he was developing what would become a significant cardiac infection – “bacterial endocarditis”.

By the time he landed in the USA his cardiac symptoms fully manifested resulting in cardiac infection, multiple body organ sepsis and several strokes secondary to the above.

Gerard was admitted to high dependency specialist care.  The claimant’s wife and Insurers were advised that Gerard most likely would not survive.  Gerard was transferred to palliative care where he eventually passed away some two months later.  The total amount of the claim was $1,300,000.

Although this case had a sad outcome, it highlights the importance of having travel insurance to protect against what can be substantial and significant costs.

By: Michael McMahon
Gibson Insurance Brokers

The Business Advisory Group Named as Top 30 Accounting Firm in New Zealand

 

Auckland E-Team member, The Business Advisory Group, has been named as one of the top 30 accounting firms in New Zealand by the Sunday Star Times for the second year running.

The ranking originates from a survey of accountancy firms carried out by Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand (CAANZ) in partnership with Fairfax media.

The firms listed in the Top 30 are measured on three core areas – adaptability/agility, emotional intelligence and critical thinking.

CAANZ launched the Top 30 list in 2017 to highlight the expertise in the accountancy sector.

Peter Vial, the New Zealand country head of CAANZ, said the accountancy profession was changing in the face of digital disruption.

“Accountants are moving away from just doing the numbers,” Vial said. “Yes, people will see their accountants about those things. But they will also be seeking strategic planning advice, valuation advice. It’s an ongoing relationship.”

Read more here: Accountants need high ’emotional intelligence’, survey finds

Expatland Case Study

 

Overview

Expat service providers are excellent at helping those moving abroad to get ready for their first adventure.

At Expatland, we have a team of industry professionals primed and ready to help with finances, visas, and the all important logistics. But what if you are already an expat? Can the Expatland Global Network still help you?

The answer is yes.

Once you settle in to your new life you’ll continue to handle your finances, taxes and mortgages. You may also have investments or properties back in your home country that need managing. You may even consider returning home at some point. Our E-Teams are here to help with all aspects of being an expat.

Let’s talk about moving back home and some of the pitfalls that can occur.

Introducing The Smiths

The Smith family have been expats for over 10 years. They relocated from Melbourne and have lived in both Singapore and Hong Kong with their two children.

The Smiths kept their apartment in Melbourne worth circa $800K and they had a residential investment home loan secured against it for $450k.

They’ve decided to return home in the next two years to purchase a family home, so started the process of applying for a new home loan with an Australian Offshore Bank that they had used previously. They started their application for a home loan of $1.2m. They signed the contracts with a finance clause and they expected to secure approval within two weeks.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered?

Unfortunately the two week deadline came and passed and the Smith’s were informed that their loan was declined after an excruciating four week process.

Initially the bank processed the application as an investment home loan, not a home loan. This meant they would have had a much higher interest rate. Not only that, they discounted both the bonus income of Mr & Mrs Smith and their salary entitlements by 20%, which can be typical of Australian lenders.

How did this happen?

Well, the bank didn’t truly know their client. They didn’t understand the needs of an expat trying to return home. They didn’t understand the expenses an expat incurs and much of their time was wasted trying to understand their customer after it was too late.

Unfortunately, The Smith family had already committed to their purchase and were due to settle within 6 weeks, which resulted in a variety of panic applications with online lenders, which were not fit for purpose.

Understanding is key

The Smiths were then recommended to Aus Finance Group, part of the Melbourne E-Team in Expatland’s Global Network. Aus Finance Group (AFG) has spent significant amounts of time working with lenders to understand the policies and procedures relevant to expats. AFG immediately understood the Smith’s needs and prepared to match them with lenders who understood their requirements.

Within 24 hours all information matter was canvassed to two Australian banks that took into account their bonus income. The Smiths were identified via Skype and executed documents in Singapore. The loan approval was granted within four business days at the terms they wanted.

This only goes to prove that expats needn’t be disadvantaged by their circumstances if they are connected with the most relevant service providers.

How AUS Finance Group can help you

One of the largest challenges as an expat is dealing with your Australian Bank & Financier whilst earning income offshore.

Lenders will typically discount the attributable value of salary & bonus income by 20-100% depending on the source and contractual arrangements behind them. AFG has already identified suitable Lenders who best recognise expat’s offshore income.

Furthermore, Lender’s debt servicing has become rules based and more stringent. This means it will now typically sensitize a borrower’s servicing ability by discounting foreign income sources, i.e.:

  1. Discount contractual base salary by 20%;
  2. Discount bonus income by up to 100%; and
  3. Assess net income (adjusted for above) at Australian tax rates.

AFG will assess your requirements and identify a Lender who will best recognise offshore income.

It will then submit full loan applications together with supporting documentation, manage a Lenders loan application, identification & security process on the expat’s behalf and proactively keep the expat informed of developments.

by: AUS Finance Group

So What’s the Deal with Sydney Property?

 

Cutting through the white noise of the Sydney property market is tough right now with every media source both nationally and in Sydney talking about how we currently have the lowest auction clearance rate since T-Rex roamed the earth and how the RBA is “watching closely” at the levels of pain and gain in the market to monitor macroeconomic policy.

Put simply, its credit crunch 2.0.

Access to credit has dropped off a cliff and serviceability criteria of mortgages has all but reduced the borrowing capacity of mature local Sydney residents and investors to first home buyer status.

I hear my expat clients say “well now you know how I feel!” as expats have been left behind in the mortgage stakes for a few years now by the big four Aussie banks. Sydney locals now a feeling the expat credit frustrations that we all have been dealing with for some time.

So what’s the deal with Sydney property? Well, its pretty simple. Locals are finding it very hard to buy property now. So let’s strike while the iron’s cold.

Most of my savvy clients that have made their highest returns from Sydney property in a down turn. Parts of Sydney that have experienced strong annual growth over the last 2-4 years in some cases are down in value by double digits. That has just happened this year but this window won’t last forever.

Now is the time to buy in Sydney for the highest returns. As a buyers agent, I am being swamped with great deals at the moment from agents that are finding it hard to move properties and do not want to tell the broader market that the owners have to sell. Its the perfect time in the cycle to get a great deal.

By: Michael Radovnikovic

Changes on the Horizon – Employment Relations Amendment Bill

 

Business may be aware that change is in the air as the coalition Government’s Employment Relations Amendment Bill (“ERAB”) makes its way through Parliament.

The Education and Workforce Select Committee have recently completed their analysis of the Bill and have recommended it be passed into law, with a few tweaks made.

Here are ten key points you should be aware of.

To read more click here.

Personal Insurances for Expatriates – What You Need to Know

 

Personal insurance relates to the insurances which protect you against sickness or injury to cover your costs of living and lump sums. Coming from another country to Australia, you are then exposed to a whole lot of new risks, issues, costs and lifestyle.

One of the key things you should be protecting is your personal well-being.

As you are in a new country, you don’t want to be put in a position where you have moved (and your family) and you can’t fund or support yourself.

In Australia, the rules are quite different and the insurances you may have had from another country could be invalid.  This is the first thing you should check preferably before you leave the country of origin. Our biggest asset is usually the least insured, that is our ability to earn an income.

Our guide on personal insurances, written by Scott Douglas from IMFG will equip you with all the information you need to make informed decisions regarding your insurances.

It’s very important to seek appropriate advice by a fully licensed Adviser who can provide you with what is necessary. The adviser will do a full needs analysis and make a recommendation on the products that are appropriate to you and your needs. With this guide, you can familiarise yourself with all your options and get a clear understanding as soon as you get to Sydney.

To read our guide please click here

The New Zealand Legal System

The New Zealand legal system is based on English law. New Zealand was a British colony before becoming an independent country. It recognises the Queen as its head of state – represented by the Governor-General.

The New Zealand’s Parliament has 120 members (MPs) who are elected under a democratic mixed-member proportional system every three years. The party (or coalition) with the largest majority forms the government. The New Zealand Parliament has authority to pass statutory laws by majority vote subject to certain procedural requirements.

Our guide to the NZ Legal written by Israel Vaealiki from Jackson Russell Lawyers is an essential read for anyone making a move to Auckland. This guide will provide you with a general understanding of all the issues you need to consider – from ensuring your will is effective in New Zealand to setting up a company.

To read our guide click here.

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