Three Best Offshore Financial Centers 2014
By Bob Bauman
#1 Switzerland: "We are in the midst of a transformational period, both culturally and operationally," says Rob Vrijhof, head of WHVP, a leading independent investment adviser in Zurich. "Tax-compliant wealth management is now the product in Switzerland, not bank secrecy, not as a tax haven."
In 2008, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) registered Swiss banks and independent asset managers numbered only five; now there are 34, still a small number. In 2008, Swiss banks held about $40 billion in U.S. client assets. Today that has shrunk to $15 billion.
But, as I found in my visit to Zurich recently, many Swiss banks seem to be reversing their original FATCA-prompted, anti-U.S.-client attitudes. Vontobel USA is about to open an office in Dallas, Texas, in addition to its New York City office. (Vontobel is one of several Swiss banks that welcome U.S. client accounts.)
A survey of Swiss banks and asset managers sees a growing potential to acquire new U.S. clients. Americans, in turn, now appear more willing to diversify investments in foreign markets and currencies. Another plus is that the Swiss franc continues as a safe-haven currency in troubled times. Switzerland is making a genuine comeback.
#2 Singapore: A series of reforms in the wake of the 1997-98 Asian financial crises has transformed Singapore into what is now one of the world's pre-eminent platforms for business growth. It's a tax-friendly environment, a global center for private banking and offshore finance, and an ideal base for second residence, naturalization, and even eventual citizenship.
Singapore has beefed up financial-privacy protection, modernized trust laws, opened the world's most secure private vaults, and allowed foreigners who meet minimum wealth requirements to buy land and become residents.
These are just a few of the reasons why Singapore makes perfect sense for those thinking about a new home for themselves or their wealth.
The money flow from the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere in Asia demonstrates perfectly how one little nation, in the borderless world of finance, can attract some of the wealthiest and most creative people on the planet.
This include famous contrarian investment guru Jim Rogers, who told me in an interview that Singapore is his top choice, both as home and as a world-business base.
#3 Panama: For investment, banking, residence, and real estate, I recommend Panama. The country's new, highly-appealing, fast-track residence program has opened its doors ever wider for those seeking financial independence, personal liberty, and unique investment opportunities. Panama offers an expedited path to greater freedom and profits in a friendly country just a two-hour flight away from Houston or Miami.
Panama is currently undergoing one of its periodic "rediscoveries" by the outside world. Even the U.S. State Department says "International indices generally rate Panama as one of the best countries in Latin America for business and investment."
The country has more than 80 well-regulated banks, 50 of which are multinationals. These collectively hold an estimated $100 billion in assets, with liquidity impressively high, at an average 30%, far better than in the U.S. Panama City is the largest offshore and regional banking center south of Miami, serving all of Central and South America.
Bob Bauman JD is a former Member of the United States House of Representatives from Maryland, (1973-1981). He is also a former federal official and state legislator; Member, Washington, DC, Bar; Graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center (1964) and the School of Foreign Service (1959), Washington, DC. Bob currently serves as legal counsel for International Living. He has authored a special report entitled “The New World of Offshore Private Banking.” To find out more, see: Intliving.com/Privatebanking.