Transforming personal finance since 2011

#51 — 'Owning the World' - if you're not in the UK


September 18th, 2019

By Andrew Craig

Reading time: ~ 4 minutes

As I mentioned in my last article, nowadays we have an audience in no less than sixty-five countries (or, at least, people with proxy servers based in that many countries). In the last few years, a large number of such people have got in touch with us to ask how they might go about owning the world where they are based. 

We have had these sorts of questions from people in every major European country, many of the big US cities, from a fair number of Australians and New Zealanders and, in particular, from British ex-pats based in places like Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, the Caribbean, India... (actually that's probably enough examples of where - you get the idea 😉).

Specifically, most of these people want to know how to buy our fund. Given how much time I have spent replying to these questions individually, it struck me that it might be a useful exercise to send an email out to our whole subscriber base on the subject.  For what it is worth - for those of you in the UK - I will be following this email with another one in the next week or two called "Financial Advice in the UK" - given there are also still a large number of things it would be good to clarify for people based in the UK as well as those who are overseas.

So - in terms of how you might "own the world" if you are an ex-pat or a national of another country.  As I have said when replying to people individually - we would dearly love to be able to work out the best solution for everyone, no matter where they are in the world - not least given that there is clearly significant commercial  upside in doing so.

That said, I would hope that readers will appreciate that this is incredibly complicated. Each country has its own regulatory rules, banks, brokers and financial products. Not only are we not allowed to help people in other countries personally from a legal standpoint (given how tightly regulated an area financial services is - and given that we are currently only regulated in the UK), but we also - brass tacks - just don't know what products and services (e.g. investment accounts, funds and so on) are available outside of the UK. We very much hope that one day we will have a more global business, but running a regulated company in the UK is already a pretty complicated and expensive enterprise to say the least.

In terms of our fund specifically - getting the various different companies, even just in the UK, to carry our fund is not a plain vanilla process.  Some companies will only add your fund once it has been trading for three years (we are just over a year away from that milestone). Others need a few million of demand in whichever currency - all on their specific platform - before they can be convinced do the admin' to add your fund.  We have fantastic coverage in the UK already (one of our greatest achievements as a business) but it has proven extremely hard to get service providers in mainland Europe, the US and Asia to make our fund available.

(As an aside - this is another example of how much less integrated Europe is than many seem to understand - even with the UK currently in the Union.  In theory - Europe has "passporting" of financial services and someone in Scandinavia, France, Italy or Germany should have access to UK financial products and services.  The reality is that I have made efforts with numerous companies (including Danske Bank, SEB, Nordea, Avanza, Nordnet, BNP, Soc Gen, Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, to name just a few) in the last three years and none of them have sufficiently advanced financial services for their retail clients that they can make a British fund available to them.  De facto, "passporting" only really works for very large or very rich investors and European financial services are nowhere near as integrated as people seem to think).

That having been said, if you are based overseas and think you have a reasonably sophisticated financial services provider (particularly if you are the client of a private bank, for example) - you might try giving someone at that firm any of the following identifier codes for our fund to see if they can secure it for you.  If you succeed, please do let us know!  Here are the various codes:

  • ISIN: GB00BDZZSM84
  • SEDOL: BDZZSM8
  • MEXID: WLJKH
  • CITICODE: O42K
  • Bloomberg Ticker: VTGMAAG
  • Lipper: LP68439582

(These can all be found on page 28 of our Fund Overview document along with any other information you may need).

Are you a financial services provider?

That's basically all I wanted to say on this subject today other than to say that if anyone reading this works for a company that they think might be able to help our overseas readership invest, please don't hesitate to drop me a line.

We would love to be able to offer an efficient, cost-effective solution for people to invest in a global, multi-asset way, wherever they are based.  The fact that we haven't found anyone with this capability yet may not mean it doesn't exist!  If you think you can help - please do shout.

That's all for today.  As ever - I wish you the very best for your finances and, by extension, for life more generally.