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Viewing posts categorised under: Belgium

HOW TO INVEST – Shares, Equities and Branch 23

By Emeka Ajogbe - Topics: Belgium, Branch 23 investments, Equities, Luxembourg, US Estate Tax
This article is published on: 7th April 2021

07.04.21

This is the third and final in a series of articles where I have talked about holding stock options, vesting those options and holding them in a tax efficient manner. In this article, I will discuss the importance of de-risking and diversifying your portfolio, and finally how useful a Branch 23 solution is in mitigating against US Estate Tax on shares if you hold them.

WHY WOULD I WANT TO DE-RISK MY HOLDING?
I wrote in more detail about the effect of risk on your portfolio here. However, to explain briefly, it is considered risky, in investment terms, if you hold too much of one particular share or asset or if it makes up 100% of your investment strategy. Some people are perfectly comfortable with being exposed to this level of risk. Other people are less so. If you have 180,000€ in one particular share or equity, and that was all you had, then it might be a good idea to de-risk yourself and reduce the possibility of losing some, if not all of your investment due to market volatility.

WHAT IS THE ALTERNATIVE?
There are some alternatives available and they all centre on diversifying your holdings. If you have shares in a company, whether it be a start-up or a multinational organisation, you could benefit from diversification to insure against significant loss.

At Spectrum, we favour the multi-asset approach to investing for our clients. These investment vehicles allow our clients access to multiple funds, asset classes and locations through a single fund that is managed and monitored by dedicated specialists and experts on the investor’s behalf. This type of fund can increase the potential for diversification and reduce the level of risk.

USA Federal Bank

CAN I BE LIABLE TO US ESTATE TAX HOLDING SHARES?
Yes, you can. If you are a non-US person (neither a US citizen, US green card holder, or a long-term US resident) with US situs assets (including, but not limited to, real

property located in the US, shares of US publicly traded companies, shares of US private companies) you will be liable to US estate tax where the value of said assets is greater than $60,000. The tax rate ranges from 18% to 40%.

A Branch 23 solution could reduce or eliminate any US estate tax for non-US persons which would ordinarily be required upon your death if your US situs assets are worth more than $60,000. Whilst within the solution, there are generally no US income tax or capital gains tax implications for a non-US person. This means that you can hold the shares (should you wish to) for as long as you want, safe in the knowledge that when you pass away, your beneficiaries will not have to pay potentially significant tax liabilities.

Please note that US tax can be extremely complicated and it is advised that you also speak to a US tax specialist to ensure that you are in line with US tax rules.

Contact me to discuss this in more detail at emeka.ajogbe@spectrum-ifa.com or +32 494 90 71 72.

HOW TO INVEST – Stocks – They Don’t Have to be Taxing

By Emeka Ajogbe - Topics: Belgium, Branch 23 investments, Equities, Investments, Luxembourg, Stock Markets, Stocks & Shares, Tax
This article is published on: 24th March 2021

24.03.21

In my previous article, I described what stock options are and how they can be utilised by both companies and individuals to create wealth. Now, I will look at some of the tax liabilities that you may be subject to and how you may be able to mitigate them when you decide to take up your option to purchase the stock. I will be focussing on the Belgian market, but we are also able to help if you are based in other countries, so do not hesitate to contact us with a specific enquiry.

HOW DO I ENSURE I AM NOT TAXED ON MY STOCK OPTIONS?
Short answer? You cannot. If the option is quoted on a stock exchange, the amount to be taxed is calculated on the basis of its closing price on the day immediately prior to the offer date. If the option is not quoted, then the amount to be taxed is 18% of the underlying share multiplied by the number of option rights held. As with all tax due in Belgium, these need to be reported to the tax authority.

WHAT WILL I BE TAXED AFTER I DECIDE TO TAKE UP MY OPTION?
At the time of writing, the Belgian rate of tax on stocks, shares and equities is 30% on the dividend income received; this tax is known as Withholding Tax. Companies that are established in Belgium are obligated to withhold this tax from investment income received.

If the dividends received into a Belgian bank account are coming from a foreign company, then the bank is obligated to apply the withholding tax. In addition, a withholding tax set at the rate set by the country the dividends are coming from must also be applied. This can be reduced if Belgium has a double taxation treaty with said country.

Let’s look at a quick example. A popular country of origin for stocks, shares or equities is the US. The US can charge a withholding tax of 30% on top of the Belgian withholding tax. Belgium retains a double taxation treaty with the US. This subsequently reduces the US withholding tax by up to half, whilst the Belgian withholding tax remains. On top of this, on January 1, 2018 the Belgian government introduced a withholding tax exemption threshold of up to €800 on dividends to encourage people to invest.

assurance vie

HOW DO I HOLD MY VESTED STOCK IN A TAX EFFICIENT MANNER?
I wrote an article on Branch 23, an investment bond solution available in Belgium for investors who wish to invest in a tax compliant way and also plan for inheritance and estate tax planning. Your stock, shares and equities can be held within this solution and you would not be liable to withholding tax on your investments for as long as you hold the bond. You will pay 2% Insurance Premium Tax when you initially invest and that covers your taxation liability (including Withholding Tax and Social Insurance Contribution that can add up to 59.58%) for however long you hold the bond.

To understand more how I can help you manage your stocks and shares/equities that you have accumulated in a more tax efficient manner, please contact me at emeka.ajogbe@spectrum-ifa.com or +32 494 90 71 72.

HOW TO INVEST – What are Stock Options?

By Emeka Ajogbe - Topics: Belgium, Investment Risk, Investments, Luxembourg, wealth management
This article is published on: 11th March 2021

11.03.21

More and more people are accumulating new wealth through gaining stock options as part of their remuneration package. Whether you are fortunate to work for one of the 40% of start-ups that become profitable or work for a large established corporation, the potential financial gain can be life changing. Today, I want to talk to you about stock options and why you should understand what they mean to you.

What are Stock Options?

WHAT ARE STOCK OPTIONS?
For any organisation you work for, you are likely to get a salary (unless you are volunteering) and, if you are lucky, stock options. Stock options make up a designated number of shares in a company and are designed to give you some measure of ownership in the organisation. They are the right, not obligation, to buy or sell a share at an agreed upon date and price (also known as the strike price). The idea being, if you own some of the company you are working for, then you are more committed to see the company grow, be profitable and stay with the company for a long time.

WHERE DO THEY COME FROM?
Stock options come from what is known as a stock option pool. These tend to be up to 20% of an organisation’s shares and these options are granted to employees and non-employees (typically investors). The initial owners start out with a certain number of shares in the company and effectively create new shares in the company by setting up a stock option pool.

HOW DOES THIS WORK?
This can be confusing, so for illustration purposes, I am going to use an example of a start-up called LIO that is today valued at 2,000,000€, has an initial share total of 5,000,000 and wants to create a stock option pool of 5% for its employees.

With the creation of a stock option pool, LIO now has 5,250,000 shares. Given that the value of the company is 2,000,000€, that means that each share is worth 0.3809€. Now, let’s say that LIO wishes to give an employee, Avery, 1% of the company’s shares as part of their remuneration package. This means that today, Avery’s 52,500 shares would be worth approximately 20,000€.

A few years into the future, LIO is bought and is valued at 20,000,000€. At this point, Avery decides to exercise his right to buy the shares. He would not have to pay the 3.809€ per share that they are now worth, but at the strike price of 0.3809€. Avery’s gain would be the difference between the two numbers multiplied by their shareholding, meaning that they would have made approximately 180,000€ thanks to the buyout.

I have oversimplified things for the sake of illustration. However, this is what happens in essence, even in large, publicly traded companies.

WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE BOUGHT SHARES?
The technical term is vested. So, if you have done this and hold shares, then you may be liable to tax on those shares and we will see if we can work towards a solution for you. If you live in Belgium or Luxembourg, we can definitely help.

This article is intended for general guidance only and is based on our understanding of Belgian tax law. It does not constitute advice or a recommendation from The Spectrum IFA Group.

Are you a UK IFA with Clients Living in Europe ?

By Spectrum IFA - Topics: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom
This article is published on: 17th November 2020

17.11.20

ARE YOU UNABLE TO SERVICE THESE CLIENTS POST BREXIT?

UK IFA

At The Spectrum IFA Group we can look after your clients long term as licensed and regulated financial advisers operating in France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

The things you should know before you contact us for our help:

  • We specialise in financial planning for English speaking expatriates across western Europe
  • We are locally authorised in all jurisdictions in which we operate and across the entire EU (and Switzerland). Our regulatory status is unaffected by Brexit
  • We hold financial services licenses for both insurance mediation (Insurance Distribution Directive compliant) and investment advice (MiFiD compliant)
  • Established in 2003, we have 50 advisers and 12 regional offices
  • We work only with large, well known asset managers including Blackrock, Jupiter, Fidelity and Prudential. For clients with higher value portfolios we also use discretionary investment managers such as Rathbones, Smith and Williamson and Quilter Cheviot
  • As part of our terms of business, clients of The Spectrum IFA Group receive ongoing, long term service and support. All advisers live within easy travel distance of their clients
  • We are not an offshore broker. We do not use products from UK dependant territories (such as the Isle of Man or Channel Islands) as they can produce adverse tax consequences for clients living in Europe. We advise that you don’t use any of these structures for your clients if they are EU resident
  • We use only locally compliant products which are designed specifically for the jurisdictions in which our clients are based
  • We work on a transparent charging structure with all clients. Charges are deducted directly from the products and solutions we recommend. We do not invoice separately
Why should I be wary of exchange rates?

As the end of the transition period is rapidly approaching we ask that you contact us as soon possible to allow time for us to complete any necessary restructuring of client assets.

If your clients are resident in the EU or Switzerland, or intending becoming resident, please feel free to contact us for a no obligation discussion to determine if we can look after your clients post Brexit.

You can contact us at info@spectrum-ifa.com

Or speak to the specific country managers in France, Spain or Italy

Click the relevant flag below

Financial Advisers in France
Financial Advisers in spain
Financial Advisers in Italy

The 21st annual International Investment Awards 2020

By Spectrum IFA - Topics: Belgium, France, International Investment Awards 2020, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, The Spectrum IFA Group
This article is published on: 7th October 2020

07.10.20
Anne Ollerenshaw

International Investment announced six new categories as part of a relaunched International Investment Awards to celebrate the event’s 20th year. The II Awards are the longest-running event of their kind and this year saw a record number of categories and entries.

Of particular interest to The Spectrum IFA Group is the new category of ‘Woman of the Year’.

We are delighted to announce that our very own Director, Anne Ollerenshaw has been nominated for this coveted award due to her Anne’s long standing contributions to the industry over the past years.

The 21st annual International Investment Awards 2020 take place on Thursday 8 October at 1500 BST.

This new award for 2020 is one of the final three awards and another which was selected via a combination of judges’ comments and, by votes of the readers of International Investment.

From the shortlisted entrants below they will select two winner awards with advisers and industry leaders judged separately.

The shortlist for Woman of the Year (new for 2020) is:

• Anne Ollerenshaw, The Spectrum IFA Group

• Paris Jordan, Virtuvest

• Kim Jarvis, Canada Life Limited

• Durreen Shahnaz, Impact Investment Exchange

• Tanya McCartney, Bahamas Financial Services Board

• Aida Feriz, Wimmer Family Office

• Paule Ansoleaga Abascal, Rothschild & Co Asset Management Europe

• Michele Carby, Holborn Assets

• Jackie Evans, Holborn Assets

• Claire Walker, deVere Group

• Louise Bracken-Smith, Fairway Group

We wish Anne the very best of luck.

The virtual ceremony will be held at 1500 BST on Thursday 8 October, with a repeat showing on this site a few hours later. Make sure that you tune in to find out who has been successful at this year’s event.

International Investment Awards 2020

The Spectrum IFA Group and Blackden Financial join forces

By Spectrum IFA - Topics: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, Spectrum-IFA Group, Switzerland
This article is published on: 26th May 2020

26.05.20

One of Europe’s leading expatriate advisory companies today announced the acquisition of a 50% shareholding in Geneva based financial planners Blackden Financial, the transaction having been concluded on Friday following discussions which began last year.

The move forms part of Spectrum’s ongoing strategic growth in Europe and expands its existing Swiss operation based in Lausanne. Blackden’s name, office and personnel will be retained.

Spectrum, established in 2003, specialises in financial planning for English speaking expatriates across Europe, operating from twelve regional offices in France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg. Blackden (also founded in 2003) operates exclusively in Switzerland from its central Geneva premises, providing investment, pension and savings solutions to a predominantly high net worth expatriate client base.

Spectrum Director, Chris Tagg, commented “Having observed Blackden Financial’s success over many years, we recognise the team’s disciplined advice process, high professional standards and commitment to long term client service. We are pleased to be investing in a company, and in people, knowing that the essential features of good business practice are already in place. We look forward to continuing the growth of our expatriate financial planning services across Switzerland.”

“The stake in Blackden allows Spectrum to further develop its Swiss based expatriate investment and tax planning capabilities, whilst giving Blackden access to locally compliant solutions in some of Spectrum’s EU markets including France, Italy and Spain.”

Chris Marriott, founder and CEO of Blackden, added “Having specialised in advising Swiss based expats for the last 17 years, we are delighted to complete this deal, which complements and strengthens our presence locally, and look forward to Spectrum’s involvement in the next phase of our business development.”

Michael Lodhi, Spectrum’s Chief Executive Officer and co-founder said “I have known Chris Marriott for more than 15 years, we were instrumental in the creation of The Federation of European Independent Financial Advisers (FEIFA) and I am delighted that we can now work together on a commercial basis.”

Is Financial Planning Different for Women?

By Emeka Ajogbe - Topics: Belgium, Branch 23 investments, Financial Planning, Gender pay gap
This article is published on: 28th October 2019

28.10.19

In a recent global poll by UBS, they found that women are ‘acutely aware’ of their financial needs in the long term. The top three needs were identified as follows:

  • Retirement planning – 76%
  • Long term care – 72%
  • Insurance – 68%

Considering this, you would think that the figures would be similar for women taking the lead in managing their own long term financial planning; and you would be wrong. As, in the same report, only 23% took charge of long term financial planning, with 58% deferring to their spouse for criti-cal long term decisions.

Reading this report, I was not surprised. The majority of my clients are men or couples (where the man takes the lead on major financial decisions. However, he will defer to his wife for the house-hold budget), with single women (and I include those who are in relationships but not married) in the minority. The reasons for this range from the perceived understanding that men typically know more about investing, to women thinking they are bad investors. Let me tell you this, some of my best clients are women, as they are less likely to want to sell underperforming funds than men, and therefore are more likely to take advantage of compound interest.

Though it is easier said than done, women need to take a more active look at their own financial planning. The reasons being:

1. Women still live longer
On average, women tend to live four and a half years longer then men; this figure can widen when based on lifestyle and family history and therefore they have to put aside more for their retirement.

2. The earning gap
Whilst great steps have been made in shrinking the earnings gap in some fields, in other fields they have either stayed the same or even widening. Women are also more likely to work part time as well. This obviously means that women have less to put away for their retirement than men.

3. Career breaks
Women are more likely to take a career break than men – whether it is maternity leave or time off to take care of an elderly relative. The outcome is the same. Your earnings potential can be seve-rely affected.

4. Divorce
Regardless of what you may see in the media, on average, women are more severely impacted financially as a consequence of a divorce, than men. This may be a result of men either being the sole breadwinner, or earning significantly more than his wife.

5. Conservative Investors
When investing, women are more risk averse on what they do invest, than men. Potentially mis-sing out of greater gains.

6. Involvement in Financial Decisions
Research shows that when women are involved in financial decisions, 91% report that they are less stressed about their finances and an even larger amount report that less mistakes are made.

Clearly, having the confidence to speak to either your partner or a financial adviser about your fi-nancial planning can greatly alleviate the stress and confusing options that are ahead of you.

To discuss further how to start your financial planning, please contact me either by email emeka.ajogbe@spectrum-ifa.com or phone: +32 494 90 71 72 to arrange a no obligation meeting

How to invest – Multi-asset Funds – Investing Made Simpler

By Emeka Ajogbe - Topics: Belgium, Branch 23 investments, Investment Risk, Investments, multi assets
This article is published on: 16th October 2019

16.10.19

I have spoken about asset allocation and rebalancing and their affect on your investments. An-other strategy that is available to you is multi asset fund management.

You may have heard (read) that I have mentioned that here at The Spectrum IFA Group, we favour the ‘multi asset fund’ route of investing. But, what is that?

MULTI ASSET FUNDS

Multi asset funds provide you with access to multiple funds and asset classes through a single fund, managed and monitored by dedicated experts on your behalf. This type of fund can increase the potential for diversification and help reduce the overall level of risk.

Choosing the right funds and building a diversified portfolio can be extremely difficult. The options available to you are almost limitless, with tens of thousands available to investors in Europe alone.

Generally speaking, it is highly unlikely that a single fund manager is capable of delivering consis-tent outperformance, year on year. Making the right choice for a portfolio and then refining it and rebalancing it over the years takes time, information and skill. Therefore, fund managers need to be monitored to ensure they remain at the top of their game – and replaced when they are not. The resources and/or expertise to do this properly can be time consuming and expensive. There-fore, multi asset funds can play a valuable role in part or all of your investments.

All multi asset funds offer a convenient way to access a wide range of fund managers and asset classes. Spreading investments across a wide range of managers and assets reduces the proba-bility of a fall in value across the whole portfolio.

At the same time, multi asset funds that are designed to target different risk levels make it simple to adapt a portfolio to suit your changing circumstances. For example, if you have no need to ac-cess your savings any time soon, then you are likely to be able to take more risk than clients who are nearing the time when they do need to access their money.

How to invest – Rebalance Your Investments

By Emeka Ajogbe - Topics: Belgium, Branch 23 investments, Investment Risk, Investments, Netherlands
This article is published on: 9th October 2019

09.10.19

I previously discussed how asset allocation is an investment strategy that can limit your exposure to risk. As you get further along your journey of being an investor, you need to understand how to rebalance your portfolio to keep it in line with your investment objectives.

Rebalancing is bringing your portfolio back to your original asset allocation mix. This may be necessary because over time, some of your investments may become out of alignment with your investment objectives. By rebalancing, you will ensure that your portfolio has not become overexposed to one asset class and you will return your portfolio to a comfortable and more acceptable level of risk.

For example, let’s say that your risk tolerance determined that equities should represent 60% of your portfolio. However, after recent market fluctuations, equities now represent 75% of your portfolio. To re-establish your original asset allocation mix, you will either need to sell some of your funds or invest in other asset classes.

There are three ways you can rebalance your portfolio:

1. You can sell investments where your holdings are overexposed and use the proceeds to buy investments for other asset classes. With this strategy, you are essentially taking the profits that you have made and reinvesting it into a more cautious fund.

2. You can buy new investments for other asset categories.

3. If you are continuing to add to your investments, you can alter your contributions so that more goes to the other asset classes until your portfolio is back into balance.

Before we rebalance your portfolio, we would consider whether the method of rebalancing we agree to use would entail transaction fees or tax consequences for you.

Depending on who you speak to, some financial experts advise rebalancing at regular intervals, such as every six or 12 months. Others would recommend rebalancing when your holdings of an asset class increase or decrease more than a certain preset percentage. In either case, rebalancing tends to work best when done on a relatively infrequent basis.

Shifting money away from an asset class when it is doing well in favour of an asset category that is doing poorly may not be easy. But it can be a wise move. By cutting back on current strong performers and adding more under performers, rebalancing forces you to buy low and sell high.

To discuss further how rebalancing can help your existing investments, please contact me either by email emeka.ajogbe@spectrum-ifa.com or phone: +32 494 90 71 72.

How to invest – What Is Asset Allocation?

By Emeka Ajogbe - Topics: Belgium, Netherlands
This article is published on: 30th September 2019

30.09.19

If you read my previous article, I discussed the importance of diversification in your portfolio and how it is a strategy that can limit your exposure to risk. Another strategy is through asset allocation.

Asset allocation involves dividing an investment portfolio among different asset categories, such as equities, bonds, property, commodities and cash. The process of determining which mix of assets to hold in your portfolio is a very personal one. The asset allocation that works best for you at any given point in your life will depend largely on your time horizon and your ability to tolerate risk.

asset classes

TIME HORIZON
Your time horizon is the expected number of months, years, or decades you will be investing to achieve a particular financial goal. If you have a longer time horizon, you may feel more comfortable taking on a riskier or more volatile investment, because you can wait out slow economic cycles and the inevitable ups and downs of the markets. However, if you are saving for a property or a car, you are less likely to want to take on risk as you have a shorter time horizon.

TOLERATE RISK
I have spoken in more detail about risk, here. However, to summarise, risk tolerance is your ability and willingness to lose some (or all) of your original investment for greater potential returns. More adventurous clients, or those with a high tolerance for risk, are more likely to risk losing money in order to get better returns. My more cautious clients, or those with a low-risk tolerance for risk, are more likely to prefer investments that will preserve the value of their original investment.

THE IMPORTANCE OF ASSET ALLOCATION
By including asset categories with investment returns that move up and down under different market conditions within a portfolio, you can protect against significant losses. Historically, the returns of the three major asset classes (cash, equities and bonds) have not moved up and down at the same time. Market conditions that cause one asset class to do well often cause another asset class to have average or poor returns. By investing in more than one class, you will reduce the risk that you will lose money and your portfolio’s overall investment will have a smoother gradient. If the return in one asset class falls, you could be in a position to counteract your losses with better performance in another asset class.

If you are looking to start investing or review the asset allocation in your existing investments, please contact me either by email emeka.ajogbe@spectrum-ifa.com or phone: +32 494 90 71 72