Offshore advice

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A significant part of our work over the years has come from overseas.

We have worked with firms in France, Russia, Belgium, Singapore, Italy, Germany and the Channel Isles.

By and large most are looking either for our document library items, or to secure a licence in the UK to trade here.

An FCA licence is a valuable thing, and is a passport around the world into providing financial advice. Getting firms an FCA licence is what we do.

Sadly the rules are so complex as to be impossible for a layman to establish exactly which permissions you require. Although a good first start is to pick the permissions of a firm like you, there are almost no two firms with the same permissions today, so you will always be behind the curve without professional advice. Many firms find it easier to set up a branch in the UK - but the key obstacle here is mind and management must be in the UK.

So IFAC have a niche there too, in our well known M&A work. Many firms passport into the UK from EEA countries, but their common denominator is a difficulty in getting providers to deal with them. The world of financial services is regulated on a daily basis by provider firms' own interpretation of the rules and their own internal guidance on what sort of business they will accept. This leads to eccentric interpretations of FCA rules - for instance that all mortgage brokers need to have a licence for consumer credit.

One of the most common enquiries we receive is how to do life insurance abroad.

Insurance and investments abroad faces two problems.

First problem is the regulations.
The regulations are relatively simple - doing business without a licence in countries like Singapore and you risk the Authorities stopping you at the airport, checking your laptop for correspondence and so on.
Many offshore brokers have been through this indignity.
But most trade these days is online - including filling in forms online.
And that has created a new dimension.
So if you're sitting in the UK, emailing your client in Singapore (or Siberia) with advice where are you doing the business - in the country of origin or destination?
Well IFAC say in the country of origin.
That makes your advice regulated by the UK regulatory.
So IFAC say you are bound by UK rules, not Singapore rules.
It is still a grey area of course, and hasnt been tested in HM Courts in the same way as the extradition to the USA is known and tested.
The online application world is less than a decade old but if you tread carefully, you should be fine.

The second problem is finding a provider who will accept the business.
No provider means no business.
The big providers are RL360 and FP for both insurance and investments.
Many investments of course go through offshore life assurance bonds.
IFAC has contacts in these firms - call us if you have a query about which route to take.