Organising Your Finances
This subject has probably been keeping you up at night more than any other; the success of your whole move depends on getting this bit right. Never fear – to say we’ve got experience in this particular field is an understatement.
Your home bank account
The first question you need to ask yourself is whether you need to keep your account open, and this depends entirely on your circumstances. If you’ll need to pay any bills, receive a UK pension or salary, for example, whilst you’re away, you’ll definitely need to keep it open. Similarly, if you anticipate returning home in the future, it’s probably simplest to leave your account open. Unless you like going through all that rigmarole again.
If you decide to keep the account open, you’ll need to tell your bank that you are moving overseas and give them your new address. If you can’t give them your new address, you can register the address of a family member or friend.
Moving abroad may also change your eligibility for certain investments, e.g. UK ISAs require a permanent UK residential address. To ensure that you make the right choices when it comes to your investments, make sure to speak to a financial advisor.
Your overseas bank account
It’s a good idea to try to set up your bank account in your destination country before you leave. That way you be able to arrange utilities faster upon your arrival – we can’t have you living without Wi-Fi now, can we?
When selecting an institution to bank with it’s worth considering their reputation – you haven’t spent your life in your new country of residence getting a feel for what’s out there (or being bombarded by banks’ advertising!). Another key consideration is access. Although you may be drawn by a tempting interest rate, don’t underestimate the ability to walk into a branch or bank or telephone your bank manager.
Some banks offer an English speaking service in popular expat regions which can be invaluable if you find yourself navigating an entirely new banking landscape. Bear in mind that overseas banks will have a completely different charging structure to your home bank and such fees can cost you a fortune if you’re not careful. Check what charges you could be exposed to – most expats get caught out by receiving charges, more than an annoyance if you are transferring funds to and from your new overseas bank account.
Transferring funds abroad and sending money home
Let’s face it, you’re going to be doing this a lot.
Whether you’re transferring funds to purchase an overseas property or sending a salary home, you’re going to be contending with transfer fees, receiving fees and exchange rates. Your mission, and you’ll have to accept it, is to find the best deal out there. This message won’t self-destruct in 30 seconds.
You have two options: either find a bank account that is specifically for expats or use a specialist currency broker. Expat accounts typically have stringent criteria, e.g. a sizeable minimum balance or a hefty annual salary.
Specialist currency brokers, on the other hand, offer unlimited flexibility, especially when it comes to currencies, little or no transfer fees, and, of course, excellent exchange rates. With no minimum deposits, all you need to do is tell you currency broker how much and where it needs to go and they’ll do the rest.
They have specialist products suitable for transferring your savings, your pension and your overseas mortgage payments. These products are perfect for making regular payments. You can either fix a favourable exchange, perfect for when the rate goes against you. Or you can transfer your funds at a variable rate, so you can take advantage of an improving rate. Or you can make regular payments of a fixed value if you always want to know exactly what’s being paid out of your account each month.
You can use these products to transfer sums of varying size. You may want to pay smaller monthly instalments of, say, £500, or you may want to transfer across a lump sum once a quarter. You can even use a combination of the two.