☏ +34 93 665 85 96  |  ✑ info@spectrum-ifa.com
Viewing posts categorised under: Italy

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

Investment income taxation in Italy

By Andrew Lawford - Topics: Investment income taxation in Italy, Investments, Italy, Tax, Tax in Italy
This article is published on: 5th November 2020

05.11.20

This should be easy, shouldn’t it? Everything gets taxed at 26% – dividends, interest and capital gains. However, for anyone who has delved into the world of Italian fiscal matters, it should be obvious that the words “easy”, “taxation” and “Italy” do not belong in the same sentence.

Let’s try and examine how it all works
Basically you have two main choices: do you want to keep all of your financial assets in Italy, or will you keep some, or all, of your assets outside of Italy? While it is beyond the scope of this article to look at the solidity of the Italian economy and its financial system, you may well be reluctant, with some cause, to move all of your assets here. Maintaining assets abroad as an Italian resident can be fraught with difficulties, but careful planning can mitigate almost entirely the issues that arise. Read on for further details.

Basically you have two main choices: do you want to keep all of your financial assets in Italy, or will you keep some, or all, of your assets outside of Italy? While it is beyond the scope of this article to look at the solidity of the Italian economy and its financial system, you may well be reluctant, with some cause, to move all of your assets here. Maintaining assets abroad as an Italian resident can be fraught with difficulties, but careful planning can mitigate almost entirely the issues that arise. Read on for further details.

Assets held in Italy:
Let’s start by looking at the situation for those assets held in Italy (i.e. in an account at an Italian financial institution):

For directly-held, unmanaged investments at an Italian bank or financial intermediary, the 26% rate will apply to income flows (e.g. dividends and coupons) at the time they are received and to capital gains at the time they are realised. This system is known as regime amministrato and it is generally the default position that most people will find themselves in when they open an account in Italy, unless they opt for a discretionary asset management service (see below). Under this system, the bank or other intermediary involved makes withholding payments on the client’s behalf and no further tax is due.

You can opt out of this system and elect to make your own declarations and tax payments (regime dichiarativo), however this is likely to be a sensible option only for someone who has assets spread over a number of different banks, as it is the only way to off-set gains realised in one bank with losses realised in another. The cost of doing this is that you will have to take responsibility for the correct declaration of all your investment income, which is no easy task. It will necessitate a lot of work on your part, as well as the need to find a local tax accountant willing and able to handle this aspect of your tax return.

If you decide to use a financial adviser to help with the choice of your investments in the above context, it is worth noting that any explicit cost of the service will attract Italian VAT at 22% (and if you are not paying an explicit cost, then you should look closely at the assets you are being advised to purchase – expensive, commission-paying funds are still very much alive in the Italian market). It is not possible to deduct the advise cost from your gross results before taxation is withheld.

The weird world of fund taxation:
One of the more perverse aspects of financial income taxation in Italy is the treatment of fund investments (basically any collective investment scheme, including ETFs). These will produce what is known as reddito di capitale when they generate dividends or are sold at a profit, but a reddito diverso when sold at a loss. What this means in practical terms is that in a portfolio containing only funds, you cannot off-set losses against gains. If you do accumulate losses through selling losing investments, you will need to generate gains that can be classified as redditi diversi in order to off-set the losses. This will likely involve investments in individual stocks and bonds, which may lead to an odd portfolio construction driven by tax considerations – generally not a good basis upon which to choose one’s investments.

Let’s turn now to directly-held, managed investments held with an Italian institution. In this case, taxation of 26% will be levied annually on any positive variation in the overall account value, with no distinction being made between the various sources of the income (this is known as the regime gestito). If the account suffers an overall decrease in value in the course of a given year, this loss can be carried forward and off-set against gains recorded over the following four years. Whilst this is a relatively simple arrangement from a tax perspective, it remains inefficient in the sense that it taxes you on unrealised returns (although at least the return is taxed net of fees).

It is worth noting that the asset management fees charged on this type of service attract Italian VAT at 22%, so an agreed cost of 1% per annum becomes a 1.22% cost for the client. Italian institutions will also generally favour investments in their “in house” managed funds, even when better (and cheaper) investments are available.

Assets held outside of Italy:
There is nothing to prevent you from holding assets outside of Italy, but you do need to go into such a situation with your eyes open. You will find yourself essentially in the same situation as the person who opts for the regime dichiarativo which I described above, together with the added aggravation of having to comply with the foreign asset declaration requirements (Quadro RW), which mean that you have to declare not only the income you derive from your financial assets, but also their value and any changes in their composition from year to year. If you’d like to have an idea of the complexity of making these declarations, get in touch with me and I will send you the instruction booklet for the 2020 Italian tax return (Fascicolo 2, the section which deals mostly with financial income and asset declarations, runs to 62 pages this year, and no, it is not available in English). You cannot opt to have a foreign, directly-held, discretionary managed account taxed as per the regime gestito above, because this is only possible for accounts held with Italian financial institutions. This means that any account will have to be broken down into its constituent elements and the tax calculated appropriately. Please also note that accounts which enjoy preferential tax treatment in a foreign jurisdiction will generally not carry any such benefits for an Italian resident.

Italian-compliant tax wrappers:
There is a solution which allows you to maintain foreign assets whilst removing 99% of the hassle described above. This involves using an Italian-compliant life insurance wrapper, issued from an EU jurisdiction. There are a number of other important benefits that accrue to this type of solution for an Italian resident, the two main ones being deferral of taxation until withdrawals are made (or death benefits paid) and total exemption from Italian inheritance taxes. I am reluctant to present comparative numbers in an article of this sort, but it should be clear that if the investments and costs are the same under the various scenarios examined, tax deferral will lead to a higher final investment value, and so should always be the preferred solution.

tax in italy

My goal with this article hasn’t been to make your head spin (although I can understand that this might have been its effect), but instead to make it clear that even apparently simple rules can hide a web of complexity which will ultimately lead to an inefficient outcome for the unwary investor. My goal is to cut through the complexity and make your life as simple as possible, whilst giving you access to quality underlying investments. Yes, it can be done, even in Italy.

Buying Property in Italy

By Andrew Lawford - Topics: Italy
This article is published on: 15th October 2020

15.10.20

If you’re reading this, you may well already own a property in Italy – in which case, you’ll know the ropes already.

But for anyone wanting to get serious about hunting for property in Italy, my latest podcast should be of interest. We cover not only the ins and outs of property transactions, but also look at how best to approach the task of finding your Italian home.

As usual, we conduct interviews with experts who offer their unique perspectives to help you to disentangle an otherwise confusing (and potentially insidious) process.

Please click on the above links to listen

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

How is my UK Pension taxed in Italy?

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Italy, UK Pensions, UK pensions in Italy
This article is published on: 2nd October 2020

02.10.20

There is nothing like a cold snap to focus the mind and it certainly arrived with a bang this year. In Rome we lost about 20 degrees of temperature in a week. However, I have to confess that I am rather glad that the autumn months are now upon us because the prolonged hot temperatures play havoc with trying to be productive.

In this article, as you will see, there are a number of shorter topics, but ones which I think are relevant for our lives in Italy. During the summer I have been scanning the financial papers and the ‘norme e tributi’ pages of Sole 24 Ore to see what might affect our lives in the future. Fortunately, the Italian government seemed to give us a break this year and I didn’t find much of significant interest. However, a number of other matters have arisen in the last few weeks

UK pensions and tax when living in Italy

Let’s start with one of the more interesting matters that arose during the summer. I was contacted by a client who was enquiring about taking money out of her QROPS pension (a QROPS is a UK pension that has been moved away from the UK but still operates like a UK pension – useful when living abroad!).

I have always advised my clients that any withdrawals from a UK personal pension are taxed at income tax rates in Italy, but over the last few years I have come across a number of clients whose commercialista has been declaring the pension as a ‘previdenza complementare’. This is the Italian equivalent of a UK personal pension. The main reason for choosing this route seemed to be a preferential flat tax rate of 15%. My argument has always been that the 2 structures have fundamentally different characteristics and therefore a UK personal pension should be considered an irrevocable trust, hence withdrawals are subject to income tax. In fact as far back as June 2018 I wrote the following in an article:

I have heard stories from various people over the years that their commercialisti declare their UK pensions as ‘previdenza complementare‘, which loosely translated means complementary pension. However, the definition does not accurately complete the story. The reason for declaring it in this manner is that it is taxed at a preferential tax rate of 15%.

I must admit here that I don’t think is the correct way of declaring income from an overseas pension / retirement plan. The ‘previdenza complementare‘ is a vehicle used in Italy to complement the pension which is offered through Italian social security (INPS). You may argue that this has the same purpose as that of an overseas pension fund. However, this is where the similarities end.

In the case of a UK pension fund your contributions would attract tax relief during the accumulation phase. In the ‘previdenza complementare‘ (PC) the fund is taxable during the accumulation phase. The UK scheme is also not linked to the state scheme in any way and you can withdraw money from age 55 (personal pension) or scheme retirement age (occupational pension). The PC is linked to the Italian state retirement age. Lastly, since the contributions into a UK fund are paid gross into the plan, then the income is instead taxed on the way out, at the normal rates. The Italian PC has a preferential rate of taxation starting at 15% and reducing to 9% depending on how many years you have been contributing to the fund, because it is taxed during the accumulation phase. In short there are some distinct differences which lead me to believe that declaring a pension fund / retirement fund (which is a trust) as a ‘previdenza complementare’ in Italy, is incorrect. If you are in doubt then speak with your commercialista.

In a lot of cases I was informed that the commercialista had contacted the local Agenzia delle Entrate and they had confirmed that this is correct. So, who was I to challenge it? However, I still believed that it was incorrect. Of course, no-one challenged it because it also meant the difference between being paying a 15% flat tax rate on that income or progressive income tax rates starting from 23%.

However, during the summer the client I referred to above contacted her commercialista, who did not accept this definition, but in fact presented an ‘interpello’ issued by the Agenzia delle Entrate (an interpello is basically an ‘opinion’ from the Agenzia delle Entrate on a specific case that is presented to them) from May 2020 regarding a UK personal pension holder.

In the interpello (which you can find HEREthe interesting part starts on page 7) it indicates that a UK personal pension should not be considered a ‘previdenza complementare’, but should actually be subject to progressive tax rates in Italy. This is quite an eye-opener because if this is the case, then it flies against the information gained from various commercialisti.

I should add here that the interpello is merely an indicative judgment in this particular case and is by no means a definitive decision for everyone holding a UK personal pension and resident in Italy. However, the fact that the AdE has gone to the trouble to write this gives us a pretty good idea into their thinking, should they choose to follow it up.

final salary pension review

What to do?
So what should you do if your commercialista has advised you to declare your UK personal pension as a ‘previdenza complementare’ and you are now benefitting from the 15% flat tax rate? I would take the interpello to them and ask their opinion based on the new evidence. Or you may choose to do nothing. Whatever your choice or the advice from the commercialista, we are now a little more enlightened into the thoughts of the Agenzia delle Entrate on this topic.

Brexit
It is worth noting here that Brexit is almost upon us and whatever your opinion as to how the UK will exit, a messy unfriendly exit may bring a few matters to light. In particular, the interpello also states that pension funds which ‘could’ be deemed to qualify are those which conduct business cross border and meet the pension rules of both EU states in which they are operating. I don’t know of a UK personal pension provider that does this anyway, but the mere fact that the UK is in the EU may gloss over some of these finer points. But then, what will happen once the UK leaves the EU?

Which leads nicely on to the next problem that Brits are now facing in Italy.

Bank account closures for UK citizens living in the EU

By now, I am sure you have read the headlines saying that a number of UK banks are contacting or have contacted their customers living in the EU to close down their UK banks accounts, potentially leaving them without a UK account. To date the main culprits are the Lloyds banking group, which includes Halifax and the Royal Bank of Scotland, Coutts and Barclays.

I am afraid to say that the rumours are true and I know of a number of people who have been contacted already.

The culprit, of course, is Brexit…

Avoiding bank charges

These banks have now had to weigh up the benefits of retaining bank account holders in the EU post Brexit, because once they out of the EU market place they will be forced to adhere to individual EU jurisdictional regulations, as well as UK regulations, if they want to continue to service clients in any EU state. Clearly, for a bank which has no intention of developing business in Italy (in our case), nor does it have a sufficiently large client base in Italy already, then they are going to need to look to close down activities in those jurisdictions to ensure they do not fall foul of the regulators.

It is interesting that, in contrast, HSBC Bank has not decided to pull from its EU markets because it has sufficient activities which take place throughout the EU. I have also heard that Nationwide is also not pulling any activities just yet.

For many clients this is going to be a very tough time, as you could lose a bank account in the UK when you may still have bills being paid, or you simply use it when you are in the UK. To make matters worse, because you are no longer a resident in the UK, you can no longer request an account from another UK banking group.

Many of the groups will also offer their international bank account services, of which the majority are based in the Isle of Man. This is not a good idea because the Isle of Man is not in the UK, but is a UK dependant territory and is deemed a fiscal paradise. It is currently on the grey list of ‘could do better’ in global fiscal transparency with the EU. It is anyone’s guess what will happen after the UK leaves the EU, but it is certainly not beyond imagination that the EU will look to impose punitive tax measures for anyone holding accounts in UK offshore jurisdictions. Let’s not forget that it only came off the black list in 2015!

So, without any other options perhaps one of the better solutions is to look at an Italian bank which can provide a GBP account. I have used Fineco for years, and recommend it to many clients. They offer a EUR current account linked to a GBP and USD account and transfers of cash between accounts are made at spot rate, with no fee. It might be a solution, but will be no consolation for losing your UK bank account. Once again, another downside of Brexit for those of us that have chosen to live in the EU.

bank-vault

Why you should never leave more than €100,000 (or currency equivalent) in your bank account

Still on the subject of banking, does the sound of a bad bank sound appealing to you? A bank that is so bad that it can take all the bad from all the other banks and just keep it there and away from us all. It sounds like a great idea in theory.

On the 25th September the EU had a consultation round table event with a number of European bank leaders, asset management groups and government officials to discuss the possibility of creating a European-wide ‘bad bank’ which would take all that bad debt (debt which cannot be paid back for one reason or another) and which is currently sat on the balance sheets of a lot of European banks, particularly Italian ones and other Southern European states. The idea being that this bad debt could be whisked away from the banks, freeing them up from the worry of having to manage this debt and giving them the liberty to start lending once again, supposedly to individuals and businesses which pose a better credit risk and would be more reliable at paying the debt back.

So far so good. I would not argue at this point. It seems like a good idea to help stimulate economies especially after the COVID-19 crisis.

But morally, should we accept this?

This is the argument put forward by a number of EU functionaries who argue that the banks are, once again, getting another bail out at the cost of the taxpayer. You and I.

To remedy this, the ‘Bank recovery and resolution directive’ (BRRD) has proposed that certain parties should also have to meet some of that cost as well as the EU/taxpayer. Those parties have been identified as the shareholders of the bank, holders of the banks bonds and lastly, the one that should interest us all: deposit holders with more than €100,000 or currency equivalent held in any banking group. Does this mean that the EU, to fund the COVID-19 crisis, could make a cash grab on deposit holders with more than €100,000 or currency equivalent in their accounts? At this point it is only a proposal, but I shall be watching this space carefully.

Based on this news, there is probably no better time to look at your financial plans closely, especially if you are holding high levels of cash in any banks around Europe.

NS&I slashes rates!

You might be someone who has been investing in NS&I products in the UK as a diversifier to your other holdings, or maybe just someone who likes to ‘play it safe’ with your money.

National Savings and Investments

National Savings and Investments, NS&I, are backed by the UK government and due to the COVID-19 crisis, the government has now moved to slash rates on all national savings products to the point where you have to ask yourself, ‘are they worth it?’

The rate on the Direct Saver account has been slashed from 1% interest per annum to just 0.15%. Income Bonds, which have for a long time been considered a best buy, have been slashed from 1% interest rate to just 0.01% pa.

Not only that, but the average interest rate on Premium Bonds (with the chance to win the big prize) will fall from 1.4% to just 1% and the amount of prizes issued will be reduced significantly.

If that is not enough, the Bank of England is also toying with the idea of introducing a negative base interest rate. If they apply that to the NS&I products, then you will be effectively paying the government to hold them.

Time to consider alternatives to protect your capital?

Digital Payments

Cashback for cashless transactions

Italy has been desperately trying to find ways for the people to start using digital forms of payment instead of cash so that the economy can become more fiscally transparent and they can raise more tax revenue.

By the end of November we will have confirmation on the new push to drive people towards using digital methods of payments in Italy, even for small transactions, such a buying coffee at the bar. The Italian government has come up with an idea to incentivise the drive to digital forms of payment.

Firstly, from next year the maximum spend on contactless forms of payment will rise from €30 to €50.

In addition, they have dreamt up another seemingly difficult to navigate proposal for a refund of expenses paid by card payments. I will have a go at deciphering it here:

1. You will get a 10% reimbursement on expenses paid up to a maximum spend of €3000 per annum (hence a tax refund of max €300 pa).

2. But, to achieve this you must make a minimum of 50 transactions every 6 months (100 every year) and the €3000 is in fact split into a spend of a maximum of €1500 every 6 months. The idea being that you can’t just go and spend on something costing €1500 every 6 months or a series of high value items to reach the limit.

To receive the refund you will need to register on the app and enter your codice fiscale, and your debit/credit card details.

3. Not only are they offering cash back on transactions but they are discussing a ‘super cashback’ prize of €3000 for the first 100,000 people who reach the maximum number of digital transactions in a year, within the limits provided above.

Certainly food for thought. Watch out for confirmation of these offers sometime before the end of November and then start registering to get your cashback. In theory it should be easy, but based on previous experience of Italian government initiatives I fear it may turn out to be more complicated than first glance.

I hoped you have enjoyed this ‘return to normality’ article. I will be sending out more information in the coming weeks and months to keep you up to speed with the goings on in the financial world and how that might impact our lives in Italy.

If any information from this article has interested you and you would like to get in contact, you can reach me on gareth.horsfall@spectrum-ifa.com or on cell phone 333 649 2356 by call, sms or whatsapp.

Gareth Horsfall ezine

Tax break for pensioners moving to Italy

By Andrew Lawford - Topics: Italy, Moving to Italy, Pensions, UK Pensions
This article is published on: 14th August 2020

14.08.20

Anyone like the sound of living in Italy and paying only 7% tax?

Generally speaking, if you are contemplating the move to Italy you will be thinking about many things, but saving on your tax probably isn’t one of them. So let me give you a nice surprise: if you are in the happy situation of being a pensioner considering moving to Italy, 7% tax on your income is possible, subject to a few rules, for the first 10 years of your residency in the bel paese.

This all came about in 2019’s budget and had the aim of encouraging people to move to underpopulated areas of Italy. Initially, the rules were that you had to take up residency in a town with fewer than 20,000 inhabitants in one of the following regions: Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise, Puglia, Sardinia or Sicily. Subsequently, the criteria were extended to include towns in the regions of Lazio, Le Marche and Umbria that had suffered earthquake damage and which have fewer than 3,000 inhabitants.

Of course, being Italy, something had to be difficult in all of this, and indeed the law makes reference not to a list of towns but instead tells you to look at ISTAT data (ISTAT is the Italian statistical institute) for the population levels on 1st January in the year prior to when you first exercise the option.

Spectrum IFA Survey

Given the difficulty in finding out exactly which towns would be covered by this rule, I delved into the ISTAT data and also dug out the relevant references to earthquake-struck towns with fewer than 3,000 inhabitants in the other regions mentioned above. I have put all of this in an Excel file which gives a list of towns eligible for the

pensioners’ tax break in Italy divided by region and then further by province, so that you have a rough geographical guide as to the areas you could consider moving to Italy.

As I was sifting through the ISTAT data it suddenly dawned on me that if the cut-off is 20,000 inhabitants, then almost the whole of Southern Italy is eligible for this 7% regime, and you can include in that some truly delightful places such as Vieste in the Gargano (Puglia), or even the island of Pantelleria. This is possible because Italy is divided up into municipal areas that sometimes have more feline than human inhabitants. Obviously, if you are looking for raucous nightlife then you are likely to be disappointed by what is on offer, but if, on the other hand, you like the idea of not having too many people around, then you could do worse than the town of Castelverrino in Molise (population 102) or Carapelle Calvisio in Abruzzo (population 85). Perhaps one day you could even become mayor.

Flat Tax Regime

This new flat-tax regime comes amid a move by a number of European countries to attract pensioners to their shores. Portugal offered a period of exemption on income tax for foreigners (the benefits of which they are now reducing) and Greece has recently announced the intention to offer a 7% flat tax on foreign-source income for pensioners (I wonder where they got that idea from?), which is also promised for 10 years. There is some discussion about the fact that the EU is not generally well-disposed towards these preferential tax regimes, which could lead to them being phased out in a relatively short period of time – so for those looking to make the most of them, time could truly be of the essence.

tax in italy

The great thing is that the 7% rule applies not only to your pension income, but can be applied across the board to any foreign-source income and there is also a substantial reduction in the complexity of the tax declarations that must be made. There are further tax-planning opportunities in all of this, because much will depend on whether you are planning on being a short-term or long-term resident of Italy.

As always, the devil is in the detail as far as tax and residency planning is concerned, and the year of transition when you first establish residency in Italy is key to setting yourself up in the most efficient manner.

So if the above sounds interesting, please get in touch and I would be happy to send you the list of eligible towns and discuss how the rules of the regime apply to your situation.

Are we going to change?

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Italy
This article is published on: 25th June 2020

25.06.20

Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts

– Arnold Bennett –

Will things change for the better post Covid 19?
Nearly everyone I speak with at the moment keeps asking, will the world get better and will we care more for the world and each other as a result of Covid? Have we learned our lesson about sustainability, ecological damage and the lifestyles we lead?

It’s a good question and not one I would like to put a bet one (I am afraid that I am a sceptic when it comes to human nature and don’t believe that many are inclined to change behaviour so easily). That being said I could be being proven wrong, because after speaking with some of our asset manager partners recently (Tilney, Rathbones, Jupiter, Janus Henderson, to name a few), they pointed out that there are some notable positive trends that are emerging from the lockdown during the Covid crisis. These trends could seriously affect the way we lead our lives and also hence how we invest our money and so are worth a mention here.

I will touch on 4 trends which could have legs and are great dinner party conversation if you are bored of Covid talk and talk of house prices!

Smart_working

1.  Smart working 
Let’s just get the pronunciation correct for Italy before we start.  It is ‘smat’ whirr-king’    Now that is out of the way, we can talk about the impact of smart-working on the workplace.

The best way to explain this is to give the example of a friend in Rome.   Our kids go to school together and he works as a director at the energy company ENEL.   He was informed, not long after the lockdown, that smart working arrangements would become permanent with immediate effect and that from January 2021 they will impose a global 3 day smart working, 2 days in the office, working week.   This will apply to all global managerial staff.

What is interesting about this is that ENEL are not alone in this decision.  There are numerous other large firms taking the same decision.  Enel have understood during lockdown that as a company they can perform all their normal activites online: conference calls, video meetings etc.    For the days in the office the work place will be arranged into a number of generic work stations with connection capabilities and which will have to be booked in advance to ensure a place on your work day.

As a result of this ENEL are not going to renew 1500 contracts (which was to be expected!) but more interestingly they are going to be closing a significant amout of office space which will go onto the property/rental market.   With many other firms taking similar decisions, what is the impact going to be on the commercial and residential property market?  Could this lead to a surplus of property and push prices in cities down?  Equally, what about people working from home, is the space they have sufficient?  These thought leads nicely onto Trend No 2

2.  Nesting 
I always thought that nesting was the time when a young couple met, starting dating seriously and before long started making plans to buy a house, settle down and maybe think about planning a family.

Nesting is now the termed also used for property owners who are looking to either sell up and move from a urban area to a rural one, or others who are looking to purchase a second home in a rural/countryside area.

Data is coming out at the moment to show that the professional classes (who are the main beneficiaries of smart working) are taking steps to rethink their lives in light of the lockdown crisis.    In the USA and also the UK data is showing that there has been a surge in requests for information about countryside properties or periphery areas to live, equally homes in urban areas with a garden and/or near an outdoor space such woods or lakes.  In London, searches for houses with gardens are up 42% on last year.  Is this a long term trend or something that we will see more of?  At the moment it is likely to be a knee jerk reaction to the lockdown and is predominantly something that the professional classes have the fortune of being able to take advantage of, but it is not beyond imagination that this is a trend that is here to stay because, like my friend who works for ENEL who is also considering his current living arrangements (he will need an office space at home) alot of people who will now have the option to work from home, will want to do so in a non-polluted, potentially more creative space with perhaps contact with nature or at a minimum another room in the house which they can turn into a work space.

And it’s not just the property market that this could affect because if the trend could affect the provision of public services and utilities.  Things like health services, schools and also the distribution of retail outlets as a way of servicing more spread populations may need to be rethought.  It would present some real challenges but create some great opportuntities as well.   What will be interesting is to see how bailout money from the EU is allocated and what, if any, conditions are attached to it because the talk is that significant demands will be made for EU states to invest in green infrastructure, show significant contribution to climate change goals and the provision of health services to citizens everywhere, to be eligible for Covid 19 bailout money.

Interestingly, in Italy, I saw a news article a week or so ago with a Sindaco in Umbria who said that he was looking to get funding to get the medeival town connected up to high speed internet, with the idea to re-populate the area with younger professionals who want to work from more beautiful places and not be confined to cities.  I have been saying the same things for years.   Without high speed internet connection the most beautiful towns, cities and villages in Italy are going to be inhospitable to anyone, not just the younger generation.  To reverse the brain drain first you need to provide high speed internet connection to your citizens.    High speed internet has become a utility just like gas, water, and electricity.    So, let’s hope they manage to do something about it and attract human capital away from the cities and back into more creative and beautiful parts of the country.

family dinner

3.  The return of the family meal 
This is a nice new trend for whoever yearns for the old days of sitting around the family meal table and enjoying quiet time together.  Apparently during the quarantena the habit was on the increase and the latest research is showing that families who had traditionally not eaten together because of professional parents returning home at different times in the evening, or otherwise being busy, were being forced together and taking advantage of this time to immerse themselves in the culture of the traditonal family meal.

What might this mean in terms of changing trends?  Well, it appears that during the lockdown, those same people who were returning to the family dinner table, were also purchasing more expensive food and more of it.   (I can attest to this because, I also thought that since we were locked at home with no way of escape, then we should at least eat well).  If people eat at home more frequently and can enjoy family meals more frequently, then might they be more inclined to buy more expensive food, but also more expensive wine? and more of it? That may also mean that people also demand more takeaway / delivery services (think Deliveroo, Just Eat, Glovo etc).  And lastly what kind of long lasting impact could it have on the hospitality sector, restaurants and hotels?.

These are trends which money managers are watching closely, less because of the habit itself, but more the reaction of big food and drinks firms.    To give you an example the big drinks firms Diageo has carried out a survey and found that 80% of its sales are for use in the home, not for consumption in bars etc.   This may come as no surprise but it does beg the question for a firm like Diageo – why are they selling through third party channels like supermarkets and other distribution channels when most people today are used to receiving deliveries at home?  Could they cut costs by selling directly?   This brings me to point No 4 and a story about everyone’s favourite sportswear compnay Nike.

4.  Cutting out the middleman
During the lockdown, I like many other people, watched quite a bit more Netflix than I am accustomed to.   One of the series which I watched and thoroughly enjoyed was ‘The Last Dance’, a documentary about Micheal Jordan and the story of the Chicago Bulls during their record breaking 6 times NBL championship wins.   A great one to watch if only to watch the acrobatic magnificence of Micheal Jordan in his prime.   Why am I mentioning this?

Nike created the line ‘Jordan’ on the back of the sporting genius of Micheal Jordan and it has been a success ever since.  What has been notable is that that the brand’ Nike Jordan’ during his time at the top was built on the back of traditional advertising/marketing and retail outlets.  But times have changed.   Now, younger people are communicating through different social media channels, the latest being TickTock, and these are changing consumer patterns of behaviour.   People are less inclined to spend their time trawling retail outlets to try and find that special pair of Nike trainers when they can see their sporting heroes wearing them on videos and also order them easily with a few clicks on their phone.

So this brought Nike to a change in strategy a few years ago.    A focus towards selling more directly to clients, and in much the same way as the revolution with food and drinks manufacturers as I explained above, Nike have been experimenting with direct consumer channels for years and are looking to expand this.

By direct consumer channels I mean selling directly from their own website and/or from a Nike store.   Nike stores in themselves are an interesting experience.  There are a number in Rome and I went into one about a year ago.  They are a less a store, but more of an experience.  This experience feeds into their brand and message around ‘Just do it’.   It is very impressive and in this way they don’t dliute their brand or their profits through 3rd party distribution channels.

This trend which Nike has been developing for years now, is a trend which we could see grow after Covid as shopping habits change even more.   As an example I know a couple in Rome in their 50’s who had never used Amazon before the lockdown because they thought it was unsafe.   During lockdown they decided to sign up and use it.  They are hooked and cannot believe how easy it is and how much choice they have.    We already know that retail is being revolutionised but this could take it further.

Can we imagine a future where we have one login for all retail outlets, supermarkets etc, and when we order from any one of them a delivery is made to a locker installed in or near our home that deliveries which can be accessed with a secure code.   A Utopian (or Dystopian future?).

If just a 20% shift is created in consumer behaviour as a result of this crisis, a 20% in the way we live and work, this could create an equally tectonic shift in the corporate sector and the way they engage with us.   For our money it will create opportunties and also there will be failures.  More importantly we are likely to see an even greater shift to companies who have a strong focus on the enviornment, social protections and good governance of their companies.

More than ever our money managers need to be on top of a changing world.  Thankfully they are.

If you would like to have a health check on your money for the future,
then you can get in touch by contacting me on
gareth.horsfall@spectrum-ifa.com
or call/whatsapp on +39 333 649 2356

Getting residency in Italy before Brexit

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: BREXIT, Italy, Residency
This article is published on: 16th June 2020

16.06.20

In this E-zine I am going to provide anyone who is still wondering about residency in Italy, before Brexit, with a quick, hassle-free guide how to obtain it.

I was hoping that I could try and avoid the ‘B’ word again in my lifetime, but alas we are not quite there yet and a number of people have contacted me in the last two weeks to ask about the process of getting residency in Italy before Brexit day arrives (currently 31st Dec 2020, although I have my suspicions it might be extended again – watch this space!).

You may know that the process of getting residency in Italy once the UK leaves the EU will get considerably more complicated. If you are unconvinced then ask an American resident in Italy, they should be able to tell you! Therefore, if you are a British citizen and thinking of making the move to Italy, and are in a position to do it now, then you may want to consider applying before Brexit day to simplify your life. Equally, I know there are many people who are living in Italy but are procrastinating about taking residency. This will act as a useful guide for anyone still sitting on the fence and feel free to share it where you see fit.

Before I give an explanation of the things to watch out for, here is a summary of the much more complicated process of elective residency, if you choose to do so POST Brexit

***This guide is mainly for people who are choosing to move and sustain themselves economically, i.e. retired individuals or those living from savings. It is not relevant for anyone considering self/employment in Italy. Different rules may apply in those cases***

Post Brexit (non EU citizen) elective residency application process

Step 1: Make an appointment at the Italian Consulate in your home country – this can takes months!

Step 2: At this appointment you need to complete a request for a visa granting you a right to live in Italy for more than three months in any six month period. You will be required to submit information on where you intend to stay (a property or rental, and evidence of specific accommodation), proof of your ability to support yourself financially, with evidence of income of at least €31000pa per single person or €38000pa for a couple, although this may be flexible depending on a) who you are speaking with and b) which region of Italy you may be moving to. You will also be required to prove that you have sufficient private health insurance cover and will not be a burden on the Italian health care system. The visa will be granted within 90 days of application being submitted.

Step 3: Once you receive the visa and make your move to Italy, within eight days you will need to make your request for a Permesso di Soggiorno (right to stay). This can be obtained from the post office. This process can take weeks, even months to issue and you will be informed that you need to go to your local Questura once it is granted, to pick up the certificate. The permission will normally be issued on a one or two year renewable basis for five years, after which time you can apply for a long term permission.

This is a very brief overview of the procedure, but as you may have understood, the process from start to finish is likely to take months, possibly years, and will probably need a lot more planning to make the move. In addition, there are much higher minimum income and savings requirements. However, as things stand you can still apply as a EU member state citizen until 31st December 2020 and most of the EU member benefits will carry forward after Brexit provided that the application is submitted before Brexit date.

Residenza Italy

The NO-HASSLE guide to getting residency in Italy before Brexit

So let’s examine the process of attaining residency as things currently stand and see why, if it is possible for you, it might be better to try to get residency before Brexit.

Going along to the comune/municipio office and requesting residency is a relatively easy process, but can be cumbersome if you are not prepared (it took me five visits to the Municipio in Rome to receive my residenza). You will inevitably run into people who have formed opinions about Brexit already and may refuse your application on the basis of the UK having left the EU already. This is incorrect and you would do well to go armed with the Italian ministry circular which says as much. You can find that document HERE. There are a few simple things you need to provide, but they may deem your evidence unsatisfactory for their requirement. Knowing the pitfalls of each criteria can be the difference between multiple failed visits to make the residency request or one successful visit.

The three basic items which you will require (apart from identification) are:

1. Evidence of sufficient economic resources to stay in Italy
2. Evidence of health insurance to cover at least the first year in Italy
3. Evidence of a place to stay

Whilst these three items might seem at first glance to be relatively simple to provide, there are some idiosyncrasies that trip people up and which can cause delays. Given that time is no longer a luxury then knowing the details could help. So, let’s deal with each one in turn.

  • 1. Evidence of sufficient economic resources to remain in the country

    The first thing to understand is that this requirement is governed by regional authorities and is very much at the discretion of local services as to whether they will accept you in their comune or not based on your evidence of income, savings, pensions etc. Rome or Milan, for example, will have very strict rules and will adhere to them rigidly. A small comune in Abruzzo, for example, might be more relaxed as they are happy to have an influx of foreign money into the area. However, it is worth checking with your local comune first to see if they have any minimum income levels for which they would need to see evidence. At the time of writing, the minimum income requirement for the Roma Capitale comune is €5.824,91pa and they would typically expect to see approximately €10,000 in savings as an emergency reserve. However, these figures can be subject to interpretation depending on who you are speaking with on any particular day! So be prepared.

    Make sure you take both the original and copies of any documents with you to any meetings, including bank statements showing regular income payments, or pension statements demonstrating the amount of money you have in the fund and any regular income payments from it. Additionally, if you have any savings and/or investments then take recent statements along as well.

    Remember to only present documentation that you are asked for, so as not to open a can of worms which could generate requests for additional documentation.

  • 2. Evidence of health insurance to cover at least the first year in Italy

    This factor seems to be the one that trips most people up when making an application for residency and it comes as no surprise. The EU requirements for a change of residence clearly state that when transferring EU member state, you must have sufficient health cover provision to not be a burden on the health care system. (If you are employed then this doesn’t apply as you will be automatically enrolled in the health care system when paying social security contributions.)

    The confusion derives from the following factors:

    i) That all EU citizens have an emergency health card which would cover you for travel within the EU area. This is correct. In Italy it is known as the TEAM card and is link to the tessera sanitaria and in the UK it is called the EHIC. However, this card only provides temporary emergency cover for medical care during visits as a tourist in the EU area and not any longer term protection. Therefore, making an application for long term residency cannot, by definition, be covered by a short term medical provision agreement.

    ii) Another assumption is that once you are resident in Italy you can apply to make a voluntary contribution to the health care system to receive full medical care (see document HERE). This is correct and the price is relatively cost effective depending on your annual total income. However, here is where a classic Catch 22 exists. You cannot register for and pay for healthcare in Italy until you have residency and you cannot have residency until you can demonstrate that you have adequate medical insurance cover in place. Therefore, an interim arrangement is needed as per point iii) below:

    iii) It is assumed that a health care insurance needs to be a full provision medical insurance policy, e.g. Bupa. This is not the case and could cost thousands for full medical care benefits which are not needed for the purposes of making a residency application. In fact, we need to refer, once again, to the EU rules regarding residency. The rules state that if you are not working and have sufficient economic resources to live on then you need to provide yourself with the equivalent S1 reciprocal agreement on healthcare for retired member state citizens, until such time as you are eligible for the S1 or have alternative arrangements, e.g. annual voluntary payment into the Italian health service.

    To resolve this you need to take an insurance policy on a one year renewable basis, which is acceptable for the purposes of obtaining residency and that can be cancelled from the second year in the case that you can make the application for the annual voluntary payment.

    Speak with a good insurance agent and ask for cover for the codes: E106, E109, E120 and E121. These are the specific codes which need to be covered for insurance purposes. However, it would be sensible to ask the insurance agent to check with your local comune in the case that they have additional regional or local provisions that they would also want to cover. My advice has always been to stick to one of the main insurance companies in Italy rather than going through smaller companies. The main players would be Generali, Zurich, Allianz, Groupama and UnipolSai, as examples. A policy of this nature may cost a few hundred instead of a few thousand depending on your age and pre-existing health conditions.

  • My tips for a better residency application

    In addition to the above, here are a couple of tips which you might find useful.

    An email pec
    You might be thinking, what is an email pec? It actually stands for Posta Elettronica Certificata and I find it is one of the most useful things to have in Italy. A few years ago the government introduced legislation to allow electronic communication between individuals and municipal offices/agencies, police and also companies. However, they rightly had suspicions about the efficacy of traditional email channels because of the inability to confirm the identity of the individual sending the email. Enter: pec email.

    Pec email is an email account that can be opened for about €30pa with a lot of service providers and during the opening process you are required to provide identification (copy of passport and/or ID card) to clear a security check. Once passed, the account is opened and you will be able to communicate freely with most official offices. Any email you send is certified as having been sent from you, but in addition you receive a receipt when the email has been received and accepted by the receiving party.

    This is useful in many ways, but specifically with regards to residency it does mean that you can submit an application to your comune by sending all the necessary information via the pec email. (Check the comune website for their specific email pec to which you can send documents). For instance, if you are unable to return to Italy, for whatever reason, and want to submit your application before Brexit date, then it can be done via pec email.

    Residency applications will be backdated to the date which you officially submitted the application (with correct documentation), so for any applications submitted by pec, or in person, before Brexit date, but then formally approved afterwards, you ‘should’ be granted residency from the moment of application.

    You will also find an email pec useful if you have to submit documentation to the police, other government agencies and even some companies. For the cost of approx €30pa I think it’s worth it, although responses to your emails will be few and far between and any follow up may need to be done in person or on the phone. Expect to do some follow-up!

italy tax

The best tax day of the year 2020
July 5th

A little known point about residency and tax, in Italy, is reference to the 183 day rule.

This rule states that if you are considered resident in Italy for less than 183 days per annum, then you are not considered tax resident in the country for the full tax year (different rules apply to employed persons). So, for calendar year 2020, if you take residency after the 5th July then you are assured to be considered non resident for the full tax (calendar) year and your first taxable year will be 2021.

This might be important for anyone who is thinking of applying now, but might like to remain tax resident elsewhere for the year 2020.

It will not affect your ability to get residency in Italy in 2020, but it will merely mean that your taxable year of residency will not start until 2021.

A useful piece of information if you need to look at your financial arrangements and how you can streamline and simplify them to make them more tax effective for life in Italy. The transition year is always the most important because of the ability to use cross border financial planning opportunities to their fullest.

And that, in brief, is your no-stress guide to to obtain residency in Italy as an EU citizen. However, whilst I write the words ‘no-stress’, they don’t correspond with my experience of municipal offices in Italy, or indeed the experience of many others. Always expect the unexpected.

I wish you or anyone you know all the best of luck making an application for residency in Italy, pre-Brexit, and who knows, we may even be in for an extension again. My guess would be at the witching hour on Dec 23rd so as not to ruin Christmas too much for the retailers and companies that will suffer most from a hard Brexit. Non vedo l’ora!

Italian banks – should we be worried?

By Gareth Horsfall - Topics: Banking, Italy
This article is published on: 27th May 2020

27.05.20
Milano palazzo Banca Commerciale

In this month’s article, I promised I would take a slightly closer look at Italian banks and at what our risks are as deposit holders in banks, which, in all probability, are going to be a risk in the near future as the Italian economy slides further into contraction and a likely deflationary spiral.

But before I go into that I thought a little update on life post-lockdown might be in order. I was hoping to have written more articles during this time, and also send more videos, but after week 3 of lockdown and a decision to do an exercise challenge online every day with some friends and colleagues, I ended up with a herniated disc, a lopsided spinal column touching the sciatic nerve and was unable to sit down for 3 weeks due to the pain (lying down and standing up only). In fact, writing this article is my first attempt at spending any length of time in front of the computer. Well, if nothing else I have learned that I am no longer a spring chicken and need to be a bit more careful about my exercise routines in the future! Other than that, nothing has really changed much for us here, apart from being able to go out more. An unexpected upside of the lockdown has been that Rome without mass tourism is an absolutely beautiful place to be at this time of year. But since schools are still online and the teachers have ramped up the lessons to 4 hours online a day, then there is little chance to do anything other than manage the daily lessons and homework routine. Thankfully only 2 weeks to go and the school season will be over. Then what we do is anyone’s guess! I will keep you posted :0)

OK, so back to some financial news. I want to take a closer look at Italian banks in this E-zine, specifically just what our risks are by holding our cash in them, whether the minimum deposit holder guarantee is really worth anything and what we might be able to do to avoid any potential near and medium terms risks.

italian debt

To start this somewhat complex journey we need to first look at the subject of Italian government debt: who holds it, how quickly they would be likely to sell it if problems persist and ultimately who would be left carrying the losses.

Domestic v foreign debt holders

Firstly, let’s examine the distribution of Italian government debt between domestic and foreign holders (foreign holders tend to be less loyal and more likely to sell at the first whiff of trouble). There is a widely held belief that the majority of Italy’s public debt is domestic because Italian households hold large financial assets. You may have heard the term ‘Italians are great savers’. This is true and the approximate net wealth of Italian households is €10 trillion, of which about a half, €5 trillion, is in financial assets. This figure is about twice the amount of public debt (before the Covid crisis) and could go some way towards explaining why one might consider the public debt to be covered by the assets and cash that Italians hold in the country.

However, the figures show that Italian households only hold about €100 billion in Italian public debt (roughly 5%) because a much larger part is held by Italian financial institutions: banks, insurance companies etc. whose ultimate beneficiaries, interestingly, are Italian households! This is where our risk lies! As Italian bank account holders, the real risk is that since Italian financial institutions are so heavily invested in the Italian state, a crisis in government could create a potentially bigger crisis in the financial sector.

Other categories of debt

We should also note that public debt also comes in the form of direct loans. Italian banks also have on their books about €290 billion of loans to general government and we don’t know much about the rates charged by banks on these loans. These are mostly issued to Italian local and regional authorities.

A web of complexity

A web of complexity

We know that Italian households don’t own a large part of the public debt (directly): it is the financial institutions that hold the lion’s share. Banks alone hold about €400 billion of Italian government debt and if we include

the loans to regional government then their total liability is in the region of €690 billion. This means Italian banks are by far the biggest source of funding for the Italian government and they lend more to the government than they do to small and medium sized businesses. That might explain the somewhat eternally sluggish entrepreneur market in Italy.

We also know banks are supposed to be safe and deposits guaranteed up to €100,000 per bank / banking group (clarification on this point below), but our deposit money is, in reality, an indirect loan to the Italian state.

Another 2 groups who hold Italian government debt are insurance companies (think Generali) who actually take a much longer term view and are less likely to sell in distressed markets, so we don’t need to worry too much about them. The other group is investment funds.

Investment funds are all those funds which you often find being offered by the banks to investors and quite often are loaded with Italian government debt. Those holdings need to be valued daily and will be much more likely to be traded quickly on the back of bad news. Between domestic and foreign investment funds, they hold approximately €750 billion of traded Italian government debt. This might sound a lot, but running into the Covid crisis it represented only about a third of all the Italian government debt in issue, and so even if subjected to frequent trading, it is less likely to have an impact on the stability of the system. Although, in the case of a government default they would be the first in line to take the losses, along with the banks!

banca d'italia

The last major holder of the debt is perhaps the elephant in the room: Banca D’Italia.

They owned approximately €400 billion of Italian government debt pre-Covid, and probably a lot more now. However, this is essentially a ‘giro dei soldi’ and

any interest that the Banca D’Italia earns from the Treasury, it immediately pays back. This debt can pretty much be considered Italian government debt. Also, it’s worth noting that the majority of this €400 billion was acquired under the last financial crisis European Central Bank quantitative easing programme, which basically means that Italian government debt is held by the ECB and has the effect of mutualising debt across other EU states. The ECB could raise interest rates on this debt and / or create less favourable payback conditions, but given the state of the EU, economically and politically, this is very unlikely.

How could trouble start in the banking system?

It is at this point that we return to the start and I answer the question (to the best of my ability), Italian banks – should we be worried?

As we have seen, the whole financial system in Italy is pretty much tied up with the state. It’s a clear case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. In addition, the majority of Italian debt is held within the EU, so there are vested interests holding the machine together, maybe with sticking plasters and bits of twine, but it is holding and working. And let’s not be under any illusion that this is just an Italian problem. France, Greece, Spain, Germany to name a few, are in similar situations.

Covid will not ease the situation, but given that a lot of the debt being created to ease the burden across the EU, will in some way or another be spread across it, it would take a pretty big move across global financial markets against the EU or one specific EU state for something major to happen. That being said, we would never have expected Covid to occur and so never say never.

What we can do to safeguard ourselves?
We all need banks for our daily living, and as we have seen in this article, Italian banks are just another appendage of the state. So, the safety of them is essentially a bet on the reliability of the Italian government, which brings me to my most important point. The safety of your Italian bank deposits, in truth, probably relies more on the stability of Italian politics than any other factor and my opinion, for what it’s worth, is that no matter which party comes into power in Italy, things move at such a snail’s pace that it’s hard to find myself losing sleep over my banking arrangements.

Protecting myself

That being said there are some measures to try to minimise my risk. The first being the minimum deposit guarantee of €100,000 per bank / banking group. In all honesty it’s not really worth the paper it’s written on and if there was a widespread run on Italian banks then the state would have to jump in and issue more debt, (which the banks would buy even more of), or the EU would have to step in to hold together the EU project. There are no reserves set aside for a moment like this. However, that being said it does make sense to spread your money if you hold more than €100,000 in cash. The key is in the wording, in that it is €100,000 per bank / banking group. The 4 banking groups in Italy are the Intesa San Paolo group, the UniCredit group, Banca BPM and Monte Paschi di Siena. Look out for the logo of one of these groups on your banking material, or check out your bank website and look at the small print to see if it belongs to one of these groups and if you have more than €100,000 in any one bank or group then think about spreading it. Alternatively, with bank interest rates being effectively negative, consider investing cash to maintain its long term value, whilst always leaving yourself with an adequate fund for emergencies.

Other banking options to look out for are the online bank offerings. I hear many people tell me that they opened up a bank account in Italy when they arrived, either by going along to their local branch and speaking with someone there, or a real estate agent helped them to do it. Most of these accounts are really basic bank accounts with very high charges and if you are a resident, and have an account like this, then consider looking at the online banks in Italy. I am a fan of Fineco bank, with whom I bank with myself. They have excellent terms and conditions and low charges. There are others as well such as Che Banca. Just make sure it is a separate ‘banking group’ to your main bank!

Other than this there is not much more we can do to protect ourselves from a banking crisis in Italy. A banking crisis will evolve from a political crisis and we should see that slow train coming from some way off. I will keep you posted. So no need to lose sleep about it, and concentrate more on getting back to our ‘bella vita’ in ‘il bel paese’.

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.”