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Expatriates of all nationalities, wherever they are living, will probably have experienced some unpleasant ups and downs with their investments in 2011. Cast your mind back to December 2010 and analysts from UBS were forecasting the FTSE would finish 2011 at 6700, whilst Seven Investment Management went for the sinister sounding 6666.
Many other brokerages forecast the UK market would finish 2011 in a range from 6200 – 6700. Actually, it finished the year at 5572, considerably adrift of the views of many of the experts. With such uncertainly stalking the London and other major global markets, Offshoreonline.org has put together six simple tips for expatriates to help them weather 2012:
1) Get a heath check on your pension and investment portfolio. Volatile stock-markets have made many worried, so clients will want to know their portfolios are well balanced and prudently invested. If all markets are going down, it is likely many portfolios will suffer, but unless you are holding good quality funds, you risk missing out on any upturn when it eventually comes.
Use a UK-regulated broker such as Offshoreonline.org to provide analysis and advice to both those holding a portfolio and those considering new investments.
2) Diversify. Consider quality property. In the year to November 2011, Greater London property prices still managed to advance by 1.4% on average and with rental yields of 5% available in quality locations, that added up to a valuable combination for clever buy-to-let landlords.
3) Use a property search agency to help build your portfolio though, as averages hide the detail. Whilst quality areas such as Wandsworth, Wimbledon, Westminster (up 7.1%) and others all advanced, many areas in the East of the capital which up to now may have benefitted from the Olympic effect dropped back, some by over 2%, according to search experts Expatfindaproperty.com
4) Consider overseas property too – French real estate has weathered the storm well, particularly in areas such as the Cote D’Azur. Here good quality new homes can be purchased which make ideal rental projects with strong all year round corporate rental demand reflecting a busy conference and cultural calendar incentres such as Cannes, according to Newfrenchrivierahomes.com
5) Check your existing mortgage rates. Many expatriates will find fixed rate contracts coming to an end, but may not have wanted to move mortgage provider. There are still good deals to be had, particularly where the loan represents less than 70% of the value of the house.
6) Check your insurance. Are life and health insurance policies up to date? Going in to 2012, the last thing you want is an expensive medical bill to pay. Get a quote – on average 50% of expatriates do not have any cover – but with apparently mundane complaints such as a trapped nerve in an arm potentially costing over GBP36,000 to treat, annual cover can look very attractive. Modern plans often offer discounts of up to 50% of premiums for those happy to take on an excess, so budgets can be managed.
Above all though, the message is be proactive. Take an interest in your finances and make sure you are on top of the detail to avoid nasty shocks down the line. Plan for the worst, hope for the best.