Harbor Financial Services | Offshore Investments |Why Go Offshore?
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Why Go Offshore?

Going offshore has many benefits: Protection from lawsuits, financial privacy, political and currency diversification, IRA & 401K advantages, private precious metals storage and regulatory advantages.

Protection From Lawsuits

Tens of thousands of lawsuits are filed PER WEEK in the U.S. alone. Juries award ever-increasing sums to successful plaintiffs. Ex-spouses, ex-business partners, disgruntled employees or predatory attorneys may file suit if they believe a potential defendant is an attractive target. Losing such a lawsuit could cause a lifetime's worth of savings, investments and real estate holdings to be lost. Even cars and boats could be taken. In light of this, placing assets offshore is a wise and effective means of protection from ruinous lawsuits.

Financial Privacy

Financial privacy has become a thing of the past. Every transaction made at a bank or ATM, by law, must be recorded and filed. Credit agencies maintain enormous databases of sensitive information that is used and shared by other organizations and agencies. Asset collectors routinely advertise their ability to locate bank accounts, brokerage accounts, retirement savings, precious metal accounts, real estate, vehicles and business holdings. Should asset collectors find substantial wealth, the individual or corporation becomes an easy target for a lawsuit.

Unless deliberate steps are taken to ensure privacy, sensitive and confidential information could easily get into the wrong hands. Placing bank accounts, brokerage accounts, precious metals accounts and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401K (or both) offshore will keep them off the asset collector's radar screen. Credit agencies don't have access to foreign account records or transactions. Domestic properties (this includes real estate as well as automobiles, airplanes and boats) may be titled in the name of a foreign corporation or trust. In the case of a boat or plane, these assets can even be registered in an offshore country.  This ensures that asset collectors can't find them. By taking advantage of these methods, an individual or corporation becomes a smaller target, and the likelihood of being sued is reduced. Utilizing offshore tools to protect privacy could mean the difference between keeping, versus losing, what is rightfully yours.

Protection From Political Risks

Keeping all of your eggs in one basket is not a good idea. Keeping all of your assets in one country is not a good idea either. Regardless of which country a person lives in, there is no guarantee of never-ending political stability. Countries go to war. Regimes take away rights and freedoms. Political, ethnic, religious or economic groups can be oppressed and have their property confiscated. While no one hopes such things will occur, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Being safe means moving some assets to a different country where they will be shielded from unwanted political developments in your home country.

Protect And Enhance Your IRA and 401K

Many individuals have a significant amount of their overall liquid assets in their retirement accounts. In fact, in most cases, retirement accounts constitute the single largest liquid asset that a person or couple has. Accordingly, in the event of political turmoil, economic problems or fiscal instability (of governments or banks and brokers or both) having all of your retirement assets in one proverbial basket could be a costly mistake.  A lifetime of savings and investments could be wiped out, confiscated or devalued overnight.  Fortunately, moving retirement assets to a different jurisdiction protects them from exactly these kinds of scenarios.  Retirement assets held offshore are held in a different jurisdiction which protects them from domestic political and economic turmoil and instability.  Holding retirement assets in a different country or countries ensures that they remain safely in the client’s control, no matter what happens domestically.  

Moving your IRA or 401K (or both) offshore not only provides additional safety and security for the assets, but also opens up a world of investment possibilities.  Once retirement assets are moved offshore, they can be invested in literally anything.  Of course traditional investments such as US and international stocks, bonds, options, futures and currency (forex) are available.  But an offshore IRA and 401K can also invest in precious metals, international real estate, private businesses of any and all types (even fractional ownership of Panamanian mango co-operative farms!) and own vehicles including cars, boats and planes outright or in part. And, offshore retirement funds can be professionally managed by some of the top offshore investment management firms.  Moving an IRA or 401K offshore opens up investment options that are not only endless, but that are simply not possible with a regular IRA or 401K held at a traditional US broker. 

All types of IRA’s and 401K’s and 403B’s can be moved offshore.  Transferring retirement assets offshore is a simple and straightforward process which is covered in greater detail on the Move Your IRA Offshore page.   


Buying and Storing Precious Metals Offshore

Holding precious metals offshore provides double benefits: a hedge against inflation and fiat currency devaluation combined with offshore privacy. Because of these benefits, offshore financial centers are ideal locations for purchasing and storing precious metals.

There are numerous offshore financial institutions in locations such as Switzerland, The Cayman Islands and Panama that offer secure and insured offshore precious metals storage.  These institutions are known as offshore precious metals storage facilities, or more succinctly, “metals brokers”.  

Once an account has been established at an offshore precious metals facility, the account holder (that is you, the client) may then purchase the desired amounts and types of metals. The metals broker will purchase the metals on your behalf and store them securely in an insured vault. They will remain there, stored safely and insured until the client decides to sell them or transfer them elsewhere. At any time if the client decides to sell, the metals broker will sell the metals for currency (USD, GBP, CAD, EUR, CHF, etc.). The funds will then be held by the metals broker on the client's behalf and can be used to purchase other metals, or the funds can be wired to the client's bank account.  

For maximum privacy, the offshore account at the metals broker should be opened in the name of an offshore company. This ensures that the precious metals will be held in the name of a private offshore company, not the client's personal name. This creates additional privacy. For a more detailed explanation of how using an offshore company increases privacy, visit Offshore 101.

Visit the Gold And Silver Offshore page for more details about buying and storing precious metals offshore. 


Protection From Currency Risk

Given the borrowing and spending habits and monetary policies of modern governments, there is no country that is immune from the risk of having its currency lose value. Understandably, citizens of many countries are concerned that the value of their currency could plummet. If your home currency loses value quickly, you could find yourself poor overnight. Steady rates of inflation also decrease the value of a currency, albeit at a slow pace. Holding some foreign currency may provide a hedge against the loss of value of your home currency.

Buying and holding multiple foreign currencies offshore is simple and convenient. Virtually all offshore banks offer account holders the ability to hold multiple currencies in the same bank account. For example, a client may hold USD, CHF and GBP (United States Dollars, Swiss Francs and British Pounds Sterling) simultaneously in an offshore bank account. Once an offshore bank account has been opened and funds have been deposited into it, some or all of the funds may be exchanged for foreign currencies and held in the account.

Offshore investment brokerages also offer the ability to hold multiple currencies in the same account as well as purchase foreign stocks directly through foreign stock exchanges. For example, an offshore brokerage account may hold USD, CHF and GBP simultaneously. The same brokerage account may be used to purchase shares of Swiss companies on the Swiss stock exchange, or Brazilian companies on the Brazilian stock exchange, etc.

Regulatory Advantages

Domestic businesses and operations are often plagued by excessive regulation. Valuable resources are diverted away from the productive processes in order to monitor compliance with a myriad of restrictions. Offshore jurisdictions are intentionally business-friendly and have regulations that are straightforward, simple to understand and inexpensive to comply with. Moving a business offshore and enjoying a more pleasant business climate may require nothing more than forming an offshore corporation and transferring assets from the domestic corporation to the foreign one.