Nick Giambruno, Senior Editor, International Man
You may have wondered: “What’s the difference between having a bank account at Bank of America and having an offshore bank account?”
The truth is, there’s possibly all the difference in the world.
Here are the top 10 reasons why you need an offshore bank account.
Doug Casey has said over and over that the biggest risk you face today is not market or financial risk—as big as those risks are—but rather the risk from your own government.
There’s no doubt this kind of risk is rising in most parts of the West. Governments are hopelessly sinking deeper into insolvency. They’re turning to the same desperate measures they always have throughout history, and it’s a big threat to your savings.
It’s only prudent to expect more bail-ins (as we’ve seen in Cyprus), bank deposit taxes (as we’ve seen in Spain), retirement savings nationalizations (as we’ve seen in Poland, Hungary, Portugal, and Argentina), and capital controls (as we’ve seen in Cyprus and Iceland), among other destructive actions. And these are just a few recent examples.
If you think these kinds of things can’t happen in your country, think again.
According to Judge Andrew Napolitano: “People who have more than $100,000 in the bank are targets for any government that’s looking for money to shore up its own inability to manage its finances.”
A big part of any strategy to reduce your political risk is to place some of your savings outside the immediate reach of the thieving bureaucrats in your home country. Obtaining an offshore bank account is a convenient way to do just that.
That way your savings cannot be easily confiscated, frozen, or devalued at the drop of a hat or with a couple of taps on the keyboard. In the event capital controls are imposed, an offshore bank account will help ensure that you have access to your money when you need it the most.
In short, your savings in an offshore bank will largely be safe from any madness in your home country.
Reason #2: Sounder Banking Systems and Banks
Almost all of the banking systems in Western countries are fundamentally unsound—leveraged to the hilt and backed by the promises of insolvent governments. Worse, most of these banks only keep a tiny fraction of cash on hand to meet customer withdrawal requests. This means that in the event of a financial shock like another Lehman-style event, you could have trouble accessing your money.
If you look to bank in a jurisdiction with low debt and a history of a stability, you can find banks that don’t gamble with customer deposits (i.e., your money), are much better capitalized, keep more cash on hand, and are otherwise much more conservatively run than those in the US.
Offshore banks are almost always more responsible custodians of your hard earned-savings.
Reason #3: Asset Protection
The Legal Resource Network reports that 15 million lawsuits are filed in the US every year.
That works out to a new lawsuit for one out of every 12 adults each year… year after year. Unless you’re exceptionally lucky, sooner or later your turn will come. You’re not going to like it.
It’s no fluke that 80% of the world’s lawyers—over 1.2 million of them—work in the US. That’s where the action is. Your money is the trophy they’re competing for.
While there is no such thing as 100% protection, an offshore bank account can help make you a hard target.
An offshore bank account also protects you from being paralyzed by a lightning seizure by any government agency armed with a summary power to freeze your assets, since such summary powers can’t reach beyond the US. If you ever find yourself in a wrestling match with a government agency or with a frivolous lawsuit, you’ll have resources you can count on.
Reason #4: Currency Diversification
Holding foreign currencies is a great way to diversify the risk in your portfolio, protect your purchasing power, and internationalize some of your savings.
Chances are though, that your domestic bank offers few—if any—options to hold foreign currencies.
Offshore banks, on the other hand, commonly offer convenient online platforms for you to hold foreign currencies.
Reason #5: Higher Interest Rates for Your Deposits
In what amounts to a war on savers, the European Central Bank and the Fed have manipulated interest rates to near historical lows. These artificially low interest rates amount to a wealth transfer from savers—who would otherwise enjoy higher returns on their deposits—to borrowers. In fact, if you live in the West, there’s a good chance that the interest you’re earning on your savings isn’t even keeping pace with the real rate of inflation.
If you look abroad, though, you can find banks that pay interest rates significantly higher than what you’d find at home.
Reason #6: Ensure Access to Medical Care Abroad
In the case you’re denied or delayed treatment in your home country—an increasing possibility with the disastrous Obamacare—you may want to seek medical care abroad.
In a dramatic scenario, this could be the difference between life and death. Suppose that for whatever reason, you cannot get the medical care you need in your home country and have to go abroad. That means you’ll have to transfer money abroad to pay for it. But if capital controls are imposed, it could be difficult or impossible to transfer funds abroad to pay for the medical care you need.
This is where having an offshore bank account—which isn’t held hostage to capital controls in your home country—can help ensure that you always have access to medical care abroad.
Reason #7: The Ability to Act Quickly
When it comes to international diversification, it’s always better to be a year early than a minute too late. Once a government has imposed capital controls or levied bank accounts, it will be too late to take protective action.
If you don’t already have one, you should open an offshore bank account now—even if it’s a small one. Just having one available—regardless of how much money you initially put in it—gives you meaningful benefits. Namely the option to act quickly and transfer more money abroad in the future, should the situation warrant it.
Americans who have an aggregate of $10,000 or more in foreign financial accounts at any time during the year must file an FBAR (FinCEN Form 114). However, if the aggregate total of your foreign financial accounts remains under $10,000 for the year, and they are not held in a trust, LLC, or other structure, you can legally maintain your privacy.
Reason #9: Peace of Mind
An offshore bank account is like an insurance policy. It helps protect you from unsound banks and banking systems and the destructive actions of a bankrupt government. It also makes you a hard target for frivolous lawsuits and allows you to pay for medical care abroad. Knowing that you have taken a strong measure to protect yourself from these things should give you a degree of mental comfort.
Reason #10: Maximize Your Personal Freedom
Having an offshore bank account gives you more options. More options means more freedom.
It’s a crucial step in freeing yourself from absolute dependence on any one country.
Achieve that freedom, and it becomes very difficult for any government to control your destiny.
It’s no secret that it is becoming harder and harder to open an offshore bank account. Soon it could be impossible. This is a strong incentive to act sooner rather than later to get one—even if you don’t plan to use it immediately.
Even if your home government doesn’t slap on capital controls or confiscate deposits, you’re no worse off for having moved your savings to a safer home. In fact, you’re far better off for the reasons described above. Obtaining an offshore bank account is a prudent step that makes sense no matter what.
Despite what you may hear, offshore banking is completely legal and is not about tax evasion or other illegal activities. It’s simply about legally diversifying your political risk by putting your liquid savings in sound, well-capitalized institutions where they’re treated best.
How to Find the Best Offshore Banks
Now that you know the reasons why you need to open an offshore bank account, the next question is “how.” It can be a daunting task… but it needn’t be. There are experts who know the ins and outs, from the best countries to set up your account to what to say and how much money to have ready—and you can get all that information and much more in Going Global 2015. It’s the ultimate primer in going international and will save you not only cash, but a lot of hassle. Check it out and get started today… while it’s still possible.