Managing Money Abroad

Posted on: 07 November 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Indispensable advice on foreign financial affairs from expat money expert Hannah Beecham.

Expat money expert Hannah Beecham, author of Expat Money: The Definitive Personal Finance Manual for Brits Abroad, offers her five top tips for managing money abroad:

Brits moving abroad, and those already ensconced overseas, can use these five top tips to buff up their banking skills.

1) Keep a file of all necessary documentation. Before commencing any formal money management procedures with banks, brokers, financial advisers or investment managers you'll need the following documentation to comply with worldwide Know Your Customer (KYC)/Customer Due Diligence (CDD) legislation. Make sure you have at the ready:

  • Proof of your identity (you'll need a notarised copy of your passport).
  • Proof of your current address including the date of your arrival there.
  • Proof of the nature and location of your employment.
  • Information about the sources of your wealth (for example, income, property, investments, inheritance).
  • Details of any regular transactions you expect to make.
  • (For banks) a statement of your reasons for wanting to open an offshore account.

2) If you haven’t already done so, open an online account. If you are based in one country and your bank is located in another, you'll need an online bank account to keep tabs on your incomings and outgoings. Ask whether your bank's internet service will enable you to:

  • View and control your savings, investments, and current accounts.
  • Set up, modify and cancel standing orders and direct debits.
  • Move money free of charge between accounts.
  • Discuss your finances, including your investments, with a named manager via secure email.

3) Check out your multi-currency requirements. Most expats are juggling their financial affairs in two, if not more, currencies. Not sure if you need a multi-currency account? Ask yourself the following:

  1. What currency do I get paid in?
  2. What currency do I make my regular outgoings in?
  3. Which currencies are my savings and investments in?
  4. Which currency do I intend to retire in?

If you are paid in one currency, say euros or dollars, but have outgoings in another, such as sterling for mortgage repayments or school fees, a multi-currency account denominated in both currencies will keep any currency exchange costs down as your money moves around.

4) Check out any additional services your offshore bank may be offering. Are you getting the best available deal? As well as offering you current and savings accounts and those all-important slivers of plastic, will your bank:

  • Help you clarify your expatriate status with HM Revenue & Customs?
  • Advise you about local taxation liabilities in your country of residence?
  • Facilitate moving your existing mortgage offshore or, if seeking a mortgage, will it offer you competitive borrowing facilities?
  • Advise you about life assurance and other forms of protection?
  • Inform you about investment opportunities?

5) Sample the local fare. A local bank could be just the ticket if you are going to be resident in one place for six months or more. Ask these questions:

  • How many branches does the bank have and where are they?
  • What types of accounts are on offer?
  • What is the minimum deposit necessary to open an account?
  • What is the minimum balance required to avoid charges?
  • What e-banking services are offered and are they available in English?
  • Does the bank offer overdraft facilities?
  • What, if any, special conditions apply to a foreign account holder seeking a loan?
  • What credit and debit cards are available?
  • Are there any services (for example, foreign exchange transactions) that cannot be undertaken at all branches?
  • Does the bank accept foreign currency transfers and at what cost?
  • What are the fees for standing orders, withdrawing cash from ATMs, making money transfers to the UK, or another country?

Hannah BeechamAbout The Author

Hannah Beecham is one of the most experienced and longest serving journalists and editors in the expatriate finance sector. She was one of the founding members of the Financial Times magazine The International. For eleven years was editor of Expat Investor and offshore finance editor of the International Express. Hannah is currently launching the Expat Channel, the first online TV channel dedicated exclusively to the worldwide British expatriate community.

More information can be found at

Expat MoneyExpat Money: The Definitive Personal Finance Manual for Brits Abroad by Hannah Beecham is published by Summersdale, price £8.99, is available through all good booksellers and from, or online at Amazon for £6.99.

Would you move to sunnier climes? Or would you miss the rain and real ale too much? Or are you an expat living abroad? How have you found the experience? You can share your views below or in the 50connect forum.

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