Hong Kong is a haven for expats, thanks to it’s low salary tax and relocation packages that often mean many expats find themselves quids in. It can be hard to know exactly where to find good financial advice in a new city, especially as one as enormously daunting as Hong Kong. But it is possible.
Firstly, many advisory services warn that as Hong Kong is not as well regulated financially speaking as many other countries, you would be best to proceed warily. And get more than one opinion when it comes to your savings and investments.
Remember, that if you plan to leave Hong Kong one day, you should try to find a financial advisor who has international offices or at least a partnership with other advisors abroad in order for you to maintain the same level of service once you leave the country. If they cannot do this, then a recommendation for an advisor in your next country should suffice, if they have one.
Importantly, try to choose an advisor who is not tied to a particular bank or organisation. This means that they will try to objectively present the best products on the market without paying lip service to one particular bank. Watch out for charges though. Make sure that you are fully aware of any costs from using an independant financial advisor.
The next step is to start looking. The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) is one of the regulators of the Hong Kong financial industry and they have an approved list of advisors here. An important point to consider is that whilst the company may be approved, it does not mean that all of it’s products are authorised for sale. Make sure to do your research first and ask around for recommendations. If problems arise, address it in writing with the advisory service in question first and then with the SFC.
If you plan to leave Hong Kong at some point in the future, then consider saving and investing in the currency of your home country. Luckily, Hong Kong investment plans are among the most sophisticated in the world so you should not have problems finding a package to suit your needs. Your advisor should be able to help you with this.
Pension plans are also another point to consider. Don’t stop paying into your pension plan back home and allow it to fade away. Your pension should be managed as part of your financial plan, and so it pays to make sure that your advisor is aware of your personal obligations with regard to pensions and contributions back home.
And one final point. Ensure that your financial advisor has some tax knowledge. If your employer pays rent, schooling, and holiday allowance rather than including them in your salary, you can avoid being taxed on them at the standard tax rate.
Living in Hong Kong offers many advantages to expats. Despite it’s general high cost of living, salaries are higher and taxes are lower, which means that many people can still afford to save. Before repatriation, make sure that you have something to show for it. It may be tempting to blow the majority of your salary on fancy cocktails and designer shopping, but preparing for your financial future now, whilst the cards are stacked in your favor, can make all the difference later.