James and Amy

James and Amy

James and Amy spent 25 years in Hong Kong before recently moving back to the UK. They have twin daughters who are at university. Despite being a Chartered accountant and financially savvy, James and the family benefitted enormously from our help when it came to making to move back to the UK.

Client since 2002

From Private Capital, I got a new level of understanding. I just wasn’t aware of these things until I talked to you.

We’ve been clients for 18 years. Kind of scary how long it’s been!

 

I have recently returned to the UK after spending 25 years in Hong Kong for the vast majority of my career. I’m married and have two 20-year-old twins who are at university in the UK.

Private Capital helped with a number of things over the years I’ve known them. The most recent thing we’ve been doing is preparing my investment portfolio and position for return to the UK; making sure that it’s protected and in the right setup for me to come back, which is not a simple thing to do.

Over the years, Private Capital have helped me with my pensions, mortgages, property transactions, life insurance and a number of other things.

 

I should clarify, when I was in Hong Kong, I was a regulated officer for a financial institution. I’m a Chartered accountant, so I’m pretty financially aware and pretty well educated, but that doesn’t mean that I have all of the information at my fingertips.

I was aware it was going to require a lot of planning just to make sure that everything’s in the right place, from you and also the tax advisers who you recommended, who were a great help.

I was aware, for instance, that I was going to need to sell my flat in Hong Kong before I went, and a number of other capital issues would need to be tidied up. But from you, I got a whole new level of understanding of the financial instruments and the different layers of structure that can be implemented in order to provide a whole new level of benefits. I just wasn’t aware of them until I started to talk to you.

 

I think there are a few things I’d like to raise. One thing we talked about already is the preparation. I have a few friends in Hong Kong who are beginning to go through this process and thinking of returning or moving to the UK. I think the process takes at least a year to get yourself ready to go, so I’ve actually recommended a couple of my friends to you to talk to you about this.

I think if you’re an expat, my warning would be we have a very romantic, rosy-eyed view of returning home; we think everything will be nice and simple, as we know how it all works. My experience when I returned to the UK was a nightmare. Dealing with the UK was a nightmare; there was just a lack of bank accounts and credit history. I couldn’t get a card, couldn’t get a phone, and there’s lots of administrative stuff you need to deal with. The fact that I knew my finances were safe and my cash was coming through and everything was okay was just one load off my mind, which made everything a lot easier.

Then I think I’ve also been talking to you guys since we got back about wanting to buy a property and how to go about financing that. If you’re coming back, you don’t have any credit history; you can’t get a mortgage off the usual providers. You need a particular set of providers, and you’ve introduced me to a group of people who can help me with that.

So I think there’s a whole specialist load of stuff that you need to go through to prepare and then when you get here, the fact that you guys have been around and holding my hand and with your own advice but also with a list of other experts who can help, have made a huge difference to the process.

So at the moment, we’ve set aside an amount of capital to buy a house here and we have decided that we wish to get some gearing on the house as it’s a cheap way to get some borrowing, so we’re going to get a mortgage even though we don’t necessarily need it.

I’ve had a number of conversations with you guys about particular properties. We’ve got cash in different places, so it’s figuring out how we manoeuvre it around, what’s possible, and how does it interact with tax. It’s a lot more complicated than when you’re in Hong Kong. Having someone at the end of the phone who you can have those conversations with is an immensely useful thing, even if you are as financially literate as I am! It’s an immense advantage.

 

I think you mentioned this when we had our first meeting when we came back, and the girls were living with us for lockdown, which was a bit unexpected. We had a lot of conversations about money, particularly as we had just restated our wills from Hong Kong to the UK. So, we had to have a number of conversations with our daughters about what’s in the wills and the effect of moving to the UK, all those kinds of things.

They’re 20 years old – they’re reasonably financially savvy I would say for 20-year-olds, and reasonably conservative in their financial outlook for people of that age – but they’re getting into national insurance and beginning to do jobs where they’re getting paid, so they’re building up their own little savings pots. I give them an allowance and if they don’t spend it all they get to keep it, that’s the deal.

I give them the best advice that I can, but I’m “dad” and dad’s not always the best person to talk to a 20-year-old. So Phil, you offered to talk to them and they had an hour session with you guys.

First of all, they were very excited it was going to happen and secondly very pleased with what they got out of it. They had a load of questions for me afterwards, but they’ve pretty much gone ahead and done what was talked about.

For them, the main thing they got was building confidence in having the tools and the understanding to do what they want to do and achieve their aims with money. I think they were a bit baffled by the financial industry overall going into it, but I think they got a lot more confidence in their own ability to work it out.

After the meeting, we’ve done quite a lot of setting up of different accounts for them with different institutions – their own personal accounts, nothing to do with me – just me helping to hold their hands when they need different documentation, etc. Some of it is still ongoing, but they got a lot out of it and they are feeling a lot more confident about managing their own financial futures.

 

I don’t know, but as someone in their early 50s, I would say you always think it’s plain sailing from here and then something always happens.

Nothing quite goes according to plan ever. So no, I think buying the house is the next big financial step for us. I’m starting to work my way back into a certain amount of work, and that’s going to have tax consequences which will knock onto the investments.

We’re also planning for potentially beginning to hand over a bit of capital to our daughters and how that should be done. We’ve had initial conversations with you guys about that, to make sure what we’re doing enables us to do that.

I have also parents who are not financially that well off, but do have a large house. I had conversations with you guys about potential instruments for them to release capital from their house, but none of it seemed to make any sense for a purchase for them, so I’ve set something up with them internally.

The advice was, ‘don’t buy this stuff, it’s horrible’, so I did it myself. That was a positive experience. Having someone tell you don’t buy a financial instrument was kind of comforting.

 

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