Moving Abroad? Financial Preparation Pays Off

Despite the current recession, it’s a natural consequence of our increasingly global marketplace that companies continue to expand globally. Professionals are capitalizing on this opportunity to take on the international responsibility that has proven to fast-track many careers. Yet many are looking beyond career-enhancement into the light of the financial benefits of living abroad, such as taking advantage of a lower cost of living or investing in foreign financial markets. However, with today’s turbulent economy, frequent currency fluctuations and reduced company packages, proper preparation pays off.

It’s a common misperception that most large banks are now global and that managing or accessing your finances abroad is a problem of the past. Not so. A wide variety of complicating factors, such as regulatory barriers and compliance challenges, relegate many otherwise global banks to local status in certain markets. Moreover, as a foreigner, setting up a local bank account and getting a local credit card can be problematic in some countries.

Needless to say, financial worries while overseas can be a disconcerting experience that distracts you from your professional responsibilities. You don’t want to be worrying about available local cash to pay your bills or the fluctuating fees associated with credit card charges while you’re negotiating a finance deal through an interpreter in Sao Paolo or trying to institute green manufacturing changes in a factory in China. Having worked internationally for years, I find that financial peace of mind ranks right next to personal safety.

Whether you plan to relocate or already have, evaluate your banking options and partner with a bank that offers international services free of geographic and bureaucratic limitations. From my own experiences, I can confirm that there are three paramount qualities necessary to enhancing your global lifestyle and eliminating worrisome administrative details that are both stressful and time-consuming: a global personal relationship manager, the ability to transfer money instantly overseas and an international credit card.

Personal Relationship Manager

Setting up your finances when you set out on a globetrotting adventure may seem daunting, but some banks offer a specialized personal relationship manager to help you get started no matter where you are in the world. These relationship managers are available to provide tasks as simple as transferring money from different accounts, providing essential guidance during emergency situations, securing a mortgage overseas and advising on your international portfolio needs. In addition, this relationship manager can connect you to local, on-the-ground, experts who speak your language, know the local culture and can get you the help you need to effectively resolve any and all financial matters.

Transfer Funds When and Where you Need Them

As any global citizen will tell you, the ability to instantly transfer money from one country to another is essential. Whether you face a business travel emergency that calls for instant cash or you simply decide to go on a shopping spree while on a personal vacation, having cash available immediately is important. Many people mistake an ATM card for a constant source of cash while traveling. In fact, there are frequently great limitations as I found out myself while in the Philippines recently and couldn’t access the cash I needed from my “global” bank account.

As I had not been in the Philippines for 10 years, my bank tagged my transactions there as suspicious and mistakenly froze my account, limiting my daily withdrawal to $100. In addition, I was charged enormous transaction fees, something that had been implemented in the last 12 months. Needless to say, I was quite unhappy both there and when I returned to the U.S. and read my statement. My search for alternatives led me to HSBC Premier, a product that offers international services and support, including a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

International Credit Cards

Surcharge and exchange fees associated with international charges vary widely with most credit card companies having adopted fees for purchases made in foreign countries (usually 1-3% per transaction). But there are exceptions. To avoid unpleasant statement shock, make sure your credit card allows for the following:

• No foreign transaction fees on purchases made in a foreign currency

• Transfer of credit histories between countries

• A rewards program that offers discount dining, shopping and entertainment deals with merchants in different countries

Finding the right banking partner is an often overlooked aspect of international living and one which can frequently have unpleasant and unnecessary repercussions. Ultimately, the joy of travel and global living can be elevated by your financial preparedness. Successful globetrotters have learned they need consistent service accessible any where in the world.

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