Financial planning is a complex process for most people, and it can be especially so for those who live in our country temporarily on special visas. When families in these circumstances seek financial advice, they require someone who understands the intricacies of their unique situation.
An interest and educational background in economics and international studies helped land Rebecca Hall, a private wealth advisor with Ameriprise Financial, where she is today. Based in Washington D.C., Hall specializes in serving foreign nationals, like diplomats and employees of aid organizations. Her previous work at the World Bank helped familiarize her with the special needs of these clients, including how their residency status impacts their financial investments and taxes.
“My clients have the same goals as most people — financing a comfortable retirement, sending their children to college and helping their aging parents — but they often can’t use the same types of investment strategies due to their status as foreign nationals,” says Hall. “Many times, they are paying tuition for their children in a different country or are supporting parents who are still living overseas. They might even plan to retire across the globe themselves, which can further complicate planning.”
Hall often begins her relationship with her clients by teaching them the basics of saving and investing, including what options are available to them – which are sometimes limited due to their residency status. There may also be cultural considerations or biases that affect planning. For example, some of Rebecca’s clients are not comfortable borrowing money or investing in certain types of companies due to religious or other cultural beliefs.
No financial plan is the same, but with foreign nationals, Rebecca approaches each situation as entirely unique. The U.S. tax code and international treaties are only a few of the factors that dictate what kind of funds a client may invest in or to which taxes he or she is subject. “There are many challenges with these particular clients including how their official legal status may inhibit them from investing and saving for their financial goals, down to smaller details like the impact that currency fluctuations can have on their savings,” says Hall.
But despite the challenges, there are also endless rewards to working with such diverse clients. “Sometimes we communicate in French or Spanish and seeing things from the perspective of those with a different worldview is really amazing. It often makes me realize how much we take for granted in this country,” Hall admits. “I am fortunate to have the opportunity to learn so much from my clients.”
Hall encourages her clients and other foreign nationals to consult with a network of professionals including a tax advisor and estate attorney who specialize in working with international clients, in addition to a financial planner. “It’s so important to understand the special situation of each client,” says Rebecca. “Taking all the right precautions and really knowing how to navigate the extra regulations these groups are subject to is key to ensuring that they make the most of their ability to invest strategically and reach their financial goals.”
Ameriprise Financial and its representatives do not provide tax or legal advice. Consult your tax advisor or attorney regarding specific tax issues.
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