GN Focus | NRI Money

World of choice for NRIs

There are a host of investment options outside India, so why not go offshore?

  • By David Hughes | Special to GN Focus
  • Published: 00:00 April 23, 2012
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  • Image Credit: Agencies
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In today's economic climate, it is crucial that everyone living in the Emirates saves money and manages their wealth appropriately, in order to enjoy a secure future.

As an expert in the expatriate market, I would typically advise that residents not be too reliant on one currency, and that Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) diversify in a way that all their investments are not linked to the rupee. This reduces risk, as the values of currencies fluctuate and depend on economic phenomena.

GUARANTEED RETURNS

From years of financial planning relationships with Indians, I have learnt that they tend to be attracted to guaranteed investments. An interesting product that is currently very popular amongst investors is Structured notes. These are index-linked investment vehicles that are developed by leading financial institutions, which offer a high return in a relatively low-risk environment, provided that the indices (such as FTSE 100 and S&P 500) linked to the product remain at the same level or have not fallen below certain specific percentage (about 40 per cent in many cases) since the start date at maturity. Structured notes have historically paid 14 per cent in six months. They are available from $25,000 (about Dh91,830) upwards and offer high protection, a diversified portfolio and different profiles of investment horizon and appetite. Similar options in India are limited.

Workers today are advised to start planning for their retirement as early as possible. Some of the most successful pension products available to expatriates include: Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) and Qualifying Non-UK Pension Scheme (QNUPS) for expats who have a UK pension, and European Union Retirement Benefit Scheme (EURBS) for those with an EU pension. Many of our Indian clients work or have worked for varying periods in the UK and EU, contributing to pensions within this period. These vehicles allow them to take control of their money and transfer their pension to other jurisdictions, make more flexible investment decisions or pass on the remaining sum to their beneficiaries.

Indians are also particularly known for their savings culture. Regular savings would thus be ideal as medium-to-long-term investment plans that allow an individual to set a target amount to save and, together with their professional financial adviser, plan a regular contribution, which ultimately allows them to reach their goals. Such contributions can then be invested via professional and experienced fund managers who allocate the assets in funds that have optimum potential for growth.

SYSTEMATIC INVESTMENTS

Systematic investment strategies provide access to global opportunities in a variety of markets, global institutions that are well-established, a range of funds that fit most investor profiles and a range of currencies to eliminate fluctuations.

These strategies are structured to fit particular financial requirements to saving monthly, quarterly, annually. They are available for as little as a few hundred dollars a month and are available in India but are very limited in comparison to offshore options, making them a very popular choice in the UAE.

Such a method can also be used for family estate and education planning. Providing your child with a good education whilst you are living abroad can cost to thousands of dollars. Studies show that expats pay up to three times as much as locals do. Together with an adviser, one can put a plan in place to be able to comfortably pay for a child's education.

Another flexible vehicle for investments is Fund Platforms. Essentially, Fund Platforms are 24-hour traded liquid opportunities of medium and long-term options. They some offer a huge range of funds, online access, email notifications, client control of investment, they are often cheap options. Access is usually granted from $5,000 (Dh18,365) upwards. They are focused on lump sum investors.

Indians living in the UAE, one of the richest markets in the world, can also invest locally. There are a number of advantages for investing in UAE bonds, these include: higher yields than developed markets and a more stable market where massive companies are now in a much stronger position. The amount to access varies significantly, but some can be accessed for a minimal fee.

Some believe that property in Dubai has somewhat levelled out and as a number of auctions take place regularly some value is available. Property is a sector many of our NRI clients have made good profit from in the past in India, but if they wish to diversify, Dubai is a very good option. Naturally, this depends on affordability, and borrowing may be expensive and limited.

The benefits of offshore investments are many, however one must seek professional advice to find the best solution that suits one's circumstances and future plans.

WHY GO OFFSHORE?

There are many reasons why an expatriate should consider offshore investments. These include:

  • Security and confidentiality
  • Allows you to move assets freely
  • Lucrative returns on your savings and investment accounts may be paid gross
  • Tax planning advantages for holding assets offshore
  • Inheritance tax benefits
  • Sophisticated worldwide communication links

— The writer is Senior Area Manager at wealth managers PIC Middle East.Email enquiries@pic-uae.com

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