Le Tour de Finance – a winner again
Last week, my colleague Rob & I presented at two of the South West France venues of Le Tour de Finance. This is a tour that travels around France, where we bring ‘experts to expats’. Now in its fifth year and due to the popularity of ‘Le Tour’, the events take place around the country in both spring and autumn.
Rob and I did a ‘double act’ and gave a presentation on The Spectrum IFA Group, which covered our processes and the products and services that we provide to clients, as well as highlighting the importance of our independence and how we are regulated in France by the French authorities. We also discussed client concerns (tax-efficiency, inheritance tax planning, securing pensions, protection of capital and continuing issues about the security of banks in the Eurozone).
SEB Life International and Prudential International presented on the topic of assurance vie, explaining the tax-efficiency of this type of investment, both personal and for inheritance planning. Each of the companies outlined the unique features of their own products and it could be seen that the products complement each other, one or the other being more suited to a client, depending upon attitude to investment risk.
The Standard Bank provided details of its structured product offerings that are currently available. There are different terms available and there is an element of linking to stock market performance with this type of investment, but all provide a guarantee that at least the original capital invested will be returned at the maturity date. For our clients who invest in these Standard Bank products, when used in conjunction with a particular life company wrapper, the clients benefit from an extra bonus, which is provided in addition to the capital guarantee.
Currencies Direct presented the various options open to clients who wish to exchange currency, whether this is for regular payments or for ad-hoc exchanges perhaps for larger purchases, for example for property. It was very interesting to see how much could be saved by using Currencies Direct, rather than a retail bank. Unexpectedly, as the Sterling Euro exchange rate jumped by more than a Euro between one day and the next over the two days when Rob and I were at Le Tour, currency exchange proved to be more topical than any of us were expecting.
Exclusive Healthcare Insurance presented on the range of products that they can offer clients. This included a range of seven different mutuelle plans that top-up the basic French health cover, which are designed to meet the needs of the different income groups of French residents and the variation in medical costs from region to region. Like all mutuelle insurance in France, there are no underwriting conditions and pre-existing conditions are covered. The company also outlined a different product that provides full private medical insurance, but which is subject to underwriting conditions. However, since the UK will stop issuing Certificates S1 to early retirees from July this year (i.e. for those who are not receiving UK State pensions), this might be a viable option for those who may be affected.
There was a presentation on French succession planning from Heslop & Platt, which is a firm of UK solicitors that are specialists in French law. As many of our clients maintain a connection with their former home country, the importance of ensuring that there is no conflict existing between the wills made in the different jurisdictions was highlighted. In addition, the forthcoming EU rules on succession were outlined and it could be seen that there would still be a need in France for inheritance planning the ‘French way’ to avoid the French inheritance taxes that will still exist even when the EU rules are in operation from August 2015.
New to Le Tour this year was PetersonSims, a firm of chartered accountants based in France, which also specialises in expatriate tax issues. A presentation from their Tax Director demonstrated how much money they could save clients, just by making sure that French tax returns are completed correctly and relief from double taxation is obtained.
If you did not make it this time to Le Tour de Finance, keep in mind the next local events which will take towards the end of June. On the other hand, if you would like to have a confidential discussion now on your financial situation, please contact me by telephone on 04 68 20 30 17 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
The above outline is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute advice or a recommendation from The Spectrum IFA Group to take any particular action on the subject of investment of financial assets or the mitigation of taxes.
The Spectrum IFA Group advisers do not charge any fees directly to clients for their time or for advice given, as can be seen from our Client Charter