Book Review: The Global Expatriates Guide to Investing

Expats tend to be cut from a similar cloth. We tend to be relatively young, and adventurous, but otherwise we come from a variety of different backgrounds. To this day, when traveling I enjoy staying in youth hostels simply to hang out with the different sorts of expats that pile in from all around the world.

However, occasionally I have come across a rarer breed of expat that lives abroad not necessarily just for the thrill of it, but for economic and political reasons as well. People who would be nearing retirement age while still abroad could have benefited from this book. However, it is quite useful for an expat of any age that is interested in investing, or in a pension, but doesn't exactly know how to go about doing it.

Andrew Hallam contacted me regarding his book and this book review (both I had planned to finish over a month ago, but such is life). Honestly, I felt a little apprehensive. While I'm far from being irresponsible about money, the notion of retirement is always one that has irked me personally. Basically, it not only requires that I own up to my own mortality, but also that I accept the notion that one day my body or my mind may deteriorate far below the robust masculine prowess (ladies, please...) that I now possess. I saw this planning for an uncertain future as being at odds to the philosophies by which I lived my live.

That said, certainly I'd like to have more money. Who wouldn't? Both many years abroad and the Great Recession has made painfully clear to me the fallibility of any currency. So rather than suffer the effects of inflation by simply leaving my money in the bank, some sort of investment with decent liquidity makes sense right? By viewing this as wealth building rather than retirement saving, I'm able to circumvent the frontal lobe pain that tells me I am somehow being defeatist by investing. Basically, if I'm not going to spend all my cash right NOW. I may as well invest some of it as the usefulness of money sitting in the bank is both going to waste, and potentially not as safe as we may have been led to believe.

I shouldn't imagine myself like this...
In his book Hallam carefully deconstructs the concepts behind commissions, returns, and the reliability (or rather lack thereof) of a variety of different financial products... Financial products... Nope that doesn't roll off my tongue any easier then I thought it would before. Anyway, the long story made short, the TLDR is this: Don't believe what most financial advisers tell you, don't buy into overseas pension schemes, and do take control of your own investments if at all possible. It's easier (apparently) to cut out middlemen if you stick to one of a variety of strategies that Hallam details in his book. Some light extra research validated many of Hallam's claims, and his ample citations and directions for readers leave little doubt in the wisdom he shares. While I for one would have liked to get his take on the implications of FATCA for expatriate investors (American or otherwise) as this law seems to have it's thumbs in everyone's pie and could prove to be a significant hurtle, Hallam's advice appears to be equally useful for those who have repatriated, or even those who never left their home country to begin with. Based on prudence, patience, and dispassionate consideration Hallam shows that it might not be as hard as it seems to get into investing, regardless of your situation.