skip to main content

Offshore investment platforms

Offshore investment platforms enable people to manage their investments through an online service based in an offshore jurisdiction.

Last updated 6 October 2020 at 11:26

Investment platforms are becoming increasingly popular for both experienced and amateur investors and while expats have traditionally had extremely limited options, trustworthy offshore investment platforms now exist specifically designed for people living abroad, or those who wish to invest in a different country.

What is an investment platform?

They first began entering the market in the late 90s, early 00s and enabled investors (and advisors) to access a wide range of different financial products and investments through a single location.

Primarily online, investment platforms can ultimately increase the investment options for investors as well as potentially reducing the costs and complexities of investing.

The investment platform itself is not a financial product but a service that enables people to invest in financial products (such as funds, structured notes or cash), that are held within investment wrappers (such as ISAs or bonds).

In their early years, investment platforms have been limited to investors by location with many firms either reluctant or simply unable to offer their platforms outside of their particular jurisdiction.

This has been particularly problematic for expats and non-residents who either began using the platforms before they moved abroad or have moved abroad and then wished to start investing.

Offshore investment platforms

Offshore investment platforms are no different to standard investment platforms, except that they are based in offshore jurisdictions, such as the Isle of Man, Gibraltar, Malta, Cayman Islands, amongst others.

This enables them to offer greater tax efficiency around their use, as well as providing access to a wider range of investment options available through the platform.

Who offers offshore investment platforms?

Offshore investment platforms are available through a plethora of financial institutions, including international banks, wealth management firms, independent financial organisations. Every platform will have its own rules, fee structure and access criteria – and some will charge/penalise investors from particular jurisdictions while others may not even allow accounts to be opened unless specific criteria are met.

Each platform will offer different investment products and options, so it is essential to do your research to find the best offshore platform for your investment plans.

While most people seeking to use an offshore investment platform to manage their own investments and assets, it is always sensible to request the advice of an independent wealth manager who can help you find the correct platform based on your location, your experience as well as the size and type of investments you are looking to make.

Specific issues expats often face with offshore investment platforms

The primary issue regarding offshore investment advice in general has been the limited regulatory security surrounding them, making it easier for investors to be ripped off through unregulated advisors using opaque charging structures. The same issue applies for offshore investment platforms.

However, this has changed in recent years and, while the risks are there, there are increasing numbers of offshore investment platforms that provide excellent opportunities for expats, however there can also be risks that some fees and charges can be hidden.

Expats and non-residents are also faced with far greater complexities surrounding tax in multiple jurisdictions. While some countries will operate tax efficient investment wrappers (for example ISAs in the UK) these wrappers are not necessarily tax efficient in other jurisdictions – and that’s if they’re even allowed.

With the introduction of The Common Reporting Standard and the requirement of financial firms to share information about non-residents financial accounts to governing bodes (such as the HMRC or the IRS), it is not possible to plead ignorance. Ultimately incorrectly managed or declared investments can lead to severe fines and penalties, and intentional tax evasion can lead to criminal proceedings.

Just these two highlighted issues can create a significant barrier for any individual wishing to use an offshore investment platform, especially if they wish to undertake their own investment strategy.

How your longer-term plans should affect your platform decision

The key element of offshore investment platforms is that they are based in tax-efficient jurisdictions. However, if you move to a country or jurisdiction that has specific rules covering the use of such platforms, you may discover that you will be penalised if you attempt to access any of the funds held within the platform.

While the future is very difficult to predict, if you are planning to relocate or you have retirement plans the involve you relocating to a different country, it is important that these plans are taken into consideration when opening or using an offshore investment platform.

For this reason, it is always recommended that before making any decisions about which platform to use, the jurisdiction of the platform or relocating, you seek advice from either a tax consultant or an independent wealth manager – both of whom should be able to provide guidance around the tax implications of using offshore investment platforms while you are resident in specific jurisdictions.

An independent wealth manager or financial advisor may also be able to offer advice on alternative investment platforms that you may wish to consider that provides the flexibility desired as well as future proofing against your plans. For example, you may wish to consider a UK investment platform if you intend to return to the UK and do not wish to have to switch platform or advisory firm.

Request a free consultation with an independent advisor

Even if you plan to manage your own investments, due to the complex nature and rules of offshore investment platforms it is always sensible to get independent advice before making any decision.

To request a free consultation with an independent advisor from our network, simply submit your details using the form. Once we have received your details, we will select the most suitable advisor and ask them to contact you to arrange your consultation.

The consultation itself lasts between 15 and 30 minutes and is designed to answer your questions about investment platforms and wealth management in general. If you decide you would then like to engage the consultant on a professional basis, they will be able to provide an explanation about what services they can offer and detail any fees or charges that may apply.

Testimonials from people who have used our specialist IFA introduction service

Knowledgeable in all the areas I had questions on, spent the time to go through all my questions which gave me a lot to think about and what options I should consider. Followed up with email outlining what we had discussed. Very professional.

Belinda B. United States, Investment Advice

Excellent service, well managed, timely and followed up to ensure being serviced. Very good experience.

Ian M. Qatar, Investment Advice

A quick response and very happy with the consultant that was recommended

Jill P. United Arab Emirates, Investment Advice

Experts for Expats has been featured in...

We Checked And, Yes, Harry And Meghan Will Have To Pay Tax - We Checked And, Yes, Harry And Meghan Will Have To Pay Tax - click to see article
Are you a British expat whose bank account is being closed due to Brexit? Here's what's happening and what you can do about it - Are you a British expat whose bank account is being closed due to Brexit? Here's what's happening and what you can do about it - click to see article
The Telegraph - The surprising places British expats can earn the most - click to see article
MailOnline - A third of British expats would like to move back to the UK and 40% admit they are homesick... but they will stay abroad for a better quality of life - click to see article
The Guardian - Brexit: how the new rules will change your visits to the EU - click to see article
The Times - Thousands of retiring Britons vote for Brexodus - click to see article

What expats say about our experts

I was extremely dubious and cautious going into this process. I have two pension pots in the UK that l have been trying to consolidate and rebalance for over a year with nothing but stalling and red tape from the two companies in the UK.

In desperation l followed up a lead from Google. I am glad l did. I will now be able to manage MY money from the US with an engaged and informative partner, instead of dealing with people who have zero interest in growing my accounts.

It’s a big relief and l look forward to developing this relationship wrt the rest of my retirement planning as part of my portfolio. Thanks so much for your help and referral. This is a legitimate organization with the expertise and support expats need.

Joanne E.

Pensions introduction in United States

As an expat who has been living outside the UK for 30 years, it was reassuring to speak to a representative of your company who seemed to have his clients interest at heart, especially when the client has no expertise in finances and investment.

Phil. C.

Pensions introduction in France

Quick response, and follow up from the connection that was made - which was professional and trustworthy 

Sarah B.

Uk Tax Return introduction in Netherlands

The consultant was exceptional, very comprehensive and clear.

Richard B.

Pensions introduction in Canada

The free consultation was so good. I feel guilty for not paying for it since my needs were in the end not complex enough to require paid for follow-up. When my circumstances change I will definitely use the consultant again.

Miles P.

Spanish Tax introduction in Belgium

Although my personal situation and circumstances are a bit complicated Alan was very professional and took the time to understand the various issues and concerns. He's come back with some things for me to consider after which I'll make some decisions about how to proceed.

Gordon. H

Pensions, SIPP introduction in Canada

Your service has been extremely helpful as an expat it isn’t always easy to know where to get the level of service needed for more complex situations. Thank you so much. 

Cathy O.

Wills introduction in United Kingdom

It’s good... a good experience - I got just what I was looking for and needed/wanted

Richard T.

UK Tax Matters introduction in United Arab Emirates