Frequently Asked Questions
Your Questions Answered
- “I already have a stockbroker; do I also need a financial planner?”
Stockbrokers generally specialise in providing investment advice – for example, they might provide you with advice on an appropriate share portfolio, or upcoming capital raisings, or speculative investment opportunities. A financial planner’s role is to take a holistic approach to your financial position and to develop a plan that aims to achieve your goals. This will likely incorporate investment advice, and with our financial planners at Ally, we specialise in investment advice and ensure that it is tailored based on your country of residence. Generally speaking, the role of a financial planner is broader than that of a stockbroker.
- “I already have an accountant, do I also need a financial planner?”
Accountants generally specialise in taxation and business advisory matters but many are not qualified to provide full financial advice, and even less qualified and experienced in providing financial advice to Australian expats. As financial planners and accountants specialise and focus on different areas, we would recommend utilising the services of both to ensure that you’re in an optimal position to achieve your financial goals.
Ideally your accountant and financial planner should be willing to communicate with each other to ensure consistency and coordination between the plans and strategies for each area.
- Can I access my superannuation as an Australian expat?
Generally speaking, the same conditions of release apply to your superannuation fund as if you were living in Australia. Therefore, simply moving abroad does not give you instant access to withdraw your superannuation unless you have met one or more of the conditions of release.
If you’re considering commencing a regular pension income from your superannuation account and you’re residing overseas, it’s important to consider whether there exists a Double Tax Agreement (DTA) between Australia and your country of residence. As DTAs are designed to prevent the double taxation of income for people, the presence of the DTA will dictate where your pension income is taxable.
For example, if there is a DTA in place between Australia and your country of residence, generally this income would not be taxed in Australia, and instead would only be taxable in your country of residence.
Please do note that this is general information only, and that you should seek professional advice relevant to your particular situation. Also note that Ally can not provide tax advice in foreign jurisdictions, but can work with your chosen tax adviser.
- Can I contribute to my Australian superannuation as an Australian expat?
In most cases, unless an employee of the Commonwealth, you will be able to contribute to your Australian superannuation fund as an expat. If you are considered to be an ‘eligible person’, then you may also be able to claim a tax deduction on a concessional superannuation contribution, which could be beneficial if you have other Australian-sourced income such as rental.
If you have a Self-Managed Superannuation Fund, then it’s important to seek professional advice here as you can run the very real risk of making your superannuation non-compliant, which can result in some hefty penalties.
- Do Australian Expats have to pay tax in Australia?
This is a common concern amongst many Australian expats, and the answer depends on two key variables, which we’ve outlined below:
- your tax residency status; and
- the source of the income.
Let’s consider the tax residency status first:
If you are treated as a resident of Australia for tax purposes, then in most instances you would be required to pay Australian tax on your globally sourced income even if you’re living overseas and have already paid tax in that country.
If you are treated as a non-resident of Australia for tax purposes, then generally you would not be required to pay Australian income tax on any income whilst you’re living and working overseas.
The next step is the source of the income:
The source of the income earned will dictate whether tax is payable in Australia or not. For example, Taxable Australian Property such as rental income from your investment property would be taxable in Australia, whereas capital gains from the sale of shares on the Australian Stock Market wouldn’t be for non-residents of Australia for tax purposes.
It’s important to consult a tax professional here to determine the right strategies based on your own personal set of circumstances.
- Do you have preferred product providers?
No. We assess the appropriate products from a range of providers and recommend the options that we believe are appropriate for you. This may be a range of options for you to consider, or there may only be one suitable option, and under either scenario we would guide you through the pros and cons of any decisions.
- Do you have product providers who you must recommend?
No. We’re free to recommend a range of product providers in all areas in which we specialise. Given that we are privately owned, we can ensure that the advice provided in suitable for you.
- Do you interact with other professionals such as my accountants & lawyers?
Yes. We have trusted professionals in our network who we refer to for their specialist advice. This includes tax, accounting, business advisory, lending and legal services. Where appropriate we refer our clients to professionals in other fields to ensure that they’re receiving the best possible advice across all services.
Our clients are not obliged to utilise services referred to them if they prefer to use their own trusted professionals. Under either scenario, our team at Ally is happy to work and communicate with the other trusted professionals who are forming part of your financial journey.
- How early should I start planning for my repatriation to Australia?
As with most things in life, the best time to start planning is yesterday, and the next best time is right now. Ideally, planning 6 – 12 months before repatriating to Australia allows us to sufficient time to get your ‘ducks in a row’ and ensure that you’re financially prepared to repatriate to Australia. Many underestimate just how much there is to ensure that you have in order before packing your bags and boarding the flight home.
Some of these areas that we’ll cover for you include:
- Retirement Savings: How will your Australian retirement savings be treated upon repatriation and should any changes be made?
- Overseas Pensions: In conjunction with your chosen tax professional, how will your overseas pension be taxed in Australia and how can it be optimised?
- Offshore Investments: In conjunction with your chosen tax professional, how will your offshore investments be taxed in Australia upon your return?
- Personal Insurances: Will your existing personal insurances still cover you in Australia? What does the claims process look like and can improvements be made?
- Health Insurances: What will you do with your health insurance upon return?
- How much money do I need to make it worthwhile meeting with a financial planner?
The value of consulting a financial planner is less about the amount of money involved than it is the outcomes required – and the complexity of your roadmap to achieving those objectives. At Ally Wealth Management, our team strives to ensure that we can first demonstrate if and how we can add value, and as such we will:
- provide an introductory meeting at no cost to you, either virtually by video call or face to face in our office in South Perth or yours’; and
- be able to show you the value of any fee(s) to be incurred for the services you require.
To read how Ally Wealth Management can help you with your financial planning/ wealth management needs, please do check out our About Ally page.
- What does a financial planner do?
A financial planner should be a trusted professional who provides ongoing assistance to you and your family.
They will develop a plan to assist you in meeting your financial and lifestyle goals. The plan should take a holistic approach to your financial wellbeing and might initially involve issues such as budgeting, superannuation and personal insurances but could also be extended over time to include strategic issues to improve your financial position.
- What happens once I’ve moved back to Australia?
At Ally, we have quite a number of clients who’ve returned from their time overseas, as well as many Australian resident clients who’ve never lived overseas at all. Upon repatriation, we’ll be considering a full assessment of your financial goals, objectives and strategies to ensure that they remain appropriate for you and that you’re taking advantage of any new opportunities that may become available upon your return to Australia.
- What outcomes should I expect from using a financial planner?
There are a number of key areas in which a financial planner can add value to your wealth management journey. The extent to which you engage with your financial planner in these areas will depend on where you are at in achieving your financial goals. A savvy financial planner, whether you’re an Australian expat or resident, should ensure that you have peace of mind knowing that you’re on track to achieving your financial goals and can clearly review this over time.
The one key area that no financial planner can guarantee – and that is to have continuous growth in the value of portfolio assets at all times. Your financial planner can not influence the performance outcomes of the investments made, however they will be able to ensure that the expected outcomes of your portfolio are aligned with your financial goals and objectives within the constraints of your risk profile and financial resources.
A good financial planner will ensure that you remain up to date with important regulatory changes, that your investments and finances are structured appropriately, and that you can ‘sleep easy’ at night knowing that you’re on track and that you’ve partnered with a trusted professional.
- What services do financial planners provide?
Financial Planning is about wealth management and guiding you on the path to achieving your financial goals. When financial planning is explored holistically, it should include:
- Accumulating wealth: This includes goal-based financial objectives, setting aside reserves for known future events, saving for your child’s education, creating a roadmap to your retirement).
- Asset protection: This covers investment structuring advice, income protection, life insurance and other personal insurances to protect you and your loved ones.
- Investment advice & management: This includes product selection & acquisition; strategic initial and regular investment advice to achieve your financial objectives, which could include retirement, your child’s education or otherwise. This includes asset allocation advice, as well as specific recommendations regarding which companies, sectors and holdings to invest in.
- Debt strategies: This includes debt facilitation, debt reduction and tax effective debt management.
- Superannuation: An important element including selecting the right superannuation vehicle for you, consolidation of multiple accounts, insurance portability as well as all investment considerations and recommendations.
- Investor risk profiling: Risk management is an important step in financial planning and includes regular reviews of investment risks, adjustment of portfolio asset allocations where required and rationalisation of future goals.
- Retirement planning: An important goal for many involving time-focused financial strategies, pre-retirement pension plans, pre-superannuation release income streams and retirement goal setting.
- Asset allocation and diversification strategies: At Ally we don’t believe in only investing in shares or property and as such will consider your specific personal financial goals and objectives, timeframes, investor risk profiles and asset protection elements. Once confirmed, investment products can be recommended ensuring that they are the right fit for you to provide you with the peace of mind that you’re on track to achieving your financial goals.
- Estate planning: It’s important to remember that even we are mortal; and as such we will be able to bring knowledge and experience to the process of ensuring that you have the appropriate documentation and instructions in place to ensure that your assets can be distributed based on your wishes.
Our team at Ally Wealth Management provides unique services for both Australian expats and Australian residents, which you can read more about at the links below:
- Why do I need specialist Australian expat financial advice?
Australian expats who have moved to a new country may inadvertently trip up on cross-border tax or financial rules, miss a regulation change back home in Australia, or miss out on tax breaks because they’re not following these areas on a daily basis. An experienced and savvy Australian expat financial adviser will steer you away from the pitfalls and help make the most of your money.
Double Tax Agreements (DTA) between Australia and other countries can be vastly different, and provide you with a great opportunity to accelerate your financial goals if used correctly. Ensure that the Australian expat financial planner that you’re working with has a clear understanding of the DTA in place between Australia and your country of residence.
- Why is it important to seek expert financial advice?
Financial matters require expert advice in the same way that you would seek professional advice for legal or taxation issues. A professional financial planner will assist you in navigating the complexities of the financial landscape while also alerting you to opportunities to help you reach your goals. For example, the set of complexities involved for a financial plan for someone living in Australia could be vastly different than those for an Australian living in New York.
Some people elect to manage their own finances without the assistance of a professional financial planner. This can be effective if you’re familiar with superannuation, taxation and insurance regulation, keep abreast of developments in investment markets, understand how to manage your budget effectively, understand how different investments can help build wealth and have a good understanding of how to effectively plan for retirement.
Those who don’t have an in-depth knowledge of the above issues, or who don’t have the time to devote to their financial plan, will benefit from consulting with a professional financial planner.