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Viewing posts categorised under: Financial adviser Portugal

Financial adviser in Portugal

By Mark Quinn
This article is published on: 19th April 2022


British expats, your financial adviser may well be a bandit!”, this was the title of a 2016 article by Jason Butler in the Financial Times. He painted a depressing picture of the state of the advisory market for expats and some of his key observations still hold today.

So what are some of the issues you need to be thinking about when you are seeking a Financial Adviser in Portugal?

One of the main points from the FT article was the importance of focusing on fees and charges. Butler states that unlike the UK, which abolished commission in 2012, many expat destinations suffer from “eyewatering expensive financial products laced with enormous commission payments”.

It is therefore important to have a clear understanding of what you are being or will be charged, and importantly that these are fully disclosed. This is something not all advisers have done and is fast becoming an issue for them as a result of the MIFID II directive which is forcing them to disclose their charges.

The other area of focus was on qualifications, with Butler citing a lack of qualifications in general. In fact, in Portugal, there is no minimum qualification requirement so in theory, anybody can set themselves up as ‘advisers’.

In the UK, the minimum standard to advise is ‘level 4’ but the gold standard is ‘level 6’, which is Chartered status. These higher qualifications are awarded by the CISI and CII (UK) and the average pass rate for the Chartered status examinations was just 56% in 2020.

You should also seek advisers who are tax qualified, or at the very least work with a firm or individual that is, and who fully understands cross-border issues. This is important given the relatively complex nature of expats’ financial affairs.

So, why might you need a financial adviser?
If you are considering setting up or reviewing a complex structure such as a pension or investment, looking to put inheritance and succession planning in place, or restructure your affairs for tax efficiency, you should seek professional advice so you do not end up with something that is unsuitable or has unforeseen negative implications.

Your adviser’s role is to help you achieve your objectives by advising you on the best course of action to take and if necessary, research the market to find suitable structures that can be tailored to your personal situation.

How to choose your adviser and advisory firm?
Firstly, you should shop around and meet with several advisers to discuss your circumstances. Advisers will usually offer an initial discussion free of charge and this will give you the opportunity to evaluate them, their firm and gauge if you can work together long term.

Some initial questions you should be considering are:

  • Is the firm regulated?
  • Are they able to offer impartial advice or are they restricted in what companies and products they can offer due to exclusivity agreements?
  • Do they have indemnity insurance?
  • Is the adviser qualified? If so, to what level?

You should also do your own research but bear in mind, some firms are known to remove any negative reviews from the internet.

What if you already have a financial adviser in Portugal?
David Blanchett, the head of retirement research for Morningstar Investment Management, wrote the following for the Wall Street Journal in February 2020, “the adviser-and advice-who was a good fit for you 10 years ago, may no longer be a good fit now. Even if you have no major complaints about the service you have been getting, it is a good idea to ‘shop around’ every few years. You may not realize that you are missing out on better advice or costs until you do a comparison. Conversely, you may reinforce that the adviser you have still is the best fit.”

Difficult questions your financial adviser may not want to answer

By Mark Quinn
This article is published on: 30th March 2022


I like being asked tough questions –

It shows that clients have a real grasp of the key issues involved, which is great. It forces me to regularly reconsider the advice I give, and to make sure it continues to be the very best and most cost-effective solution. Also, and speaking from bitter personal experience of poor, disjointed advice I received in an area on which I am not au fait (renovating my property), I truly believe that clients are in a much more powerful position if they are aware of all the salient facts and issues.

With that in mind, and to put you in the most powerful position in your existing adviser relationship, I would start by getting the answers to the following:

  • Are you truly impartial or are you restricted to only recommending certain structures and funds? I come across many clients with the same structure managed by the same investment manager. How can one structure and fund be the most appropriate for all clients with a wide variety of issues and situations?
  • What qualifications do you have to advise? When you visit a professional one assumes they are qualified and good at what they do. It is remarkable therefore that many ‘advisers’ operate in Portugal without qualifications, and some even purport themselves to be tax advisers who do not have any formal tax qualifications. Those coming from the UK may be aware that ‘Chartered Financial Planner’ is the gold standard for advising clients, and ‘level 4’ is the minimum level of qualification required to advise.
  • How much am I being charged? One of the most damaging issues to the performance of your portfolio are the charges that are being taken from your policy. Many times, these are ‘bundled’ or paid discreetly out of the back end of the product. Ask for an explicit breakdown in writing between each fund’s ‘Ongoing Fund Charge’, product/structure charges and the fees or commissions your adviser is taking, and from where.
  • Have you disclosed the full charges to me? If not, why not? This is a contentious issue for some firms at present as, due to an EU directive, they now have to inform clients if they have not disclosed the true costs of the investments that they have set up and managed for them; obviously leading to many disgruntled people and tainted trust in the advisory relationship.
  • What is my number? Does your adviser tell you how long your money will currently last and under what conditions? Do they paint of picture of different scenarios and how these would impact this projection? Or how you can tweak your planning to achieve your goals?
  • How much risk am I taking? People often focus and compare the returns they might achieve but neglect to consider the level of risk their adviser is taking with their money. For example, two portfolios can achieve 5% a year return, but fund 1 may be down 50% at any point during the year, and fund 2 just 10% – clearly these two are very different investments, with fund 2 being superior.
  • Is my fund outperforming a tracker fund? One chooses to invest in a fund if the manager has a proven ability to deliver attractive returns relative to the market, and for this you pay the fund manager a fee, typically around 1% per annum. But are they doing their job and is it worth the cost? A 0.5% reduction in fees may sound trivial, but I recently showed a client they could save in excess of £200,000 in fees over time.

If you would like an independent analysis of your position,
it would be our pleasure to help you

Expat financial advice in Portugal

By Spectrum IFA
This article is published on: 5th January 2022

Portugal Office Spectrum IFA

The Spectrum IFA Group are delighted to announce the official opening of our latest office in Portugal.

The new office is based in Almancil, which is situated in the very south of the country in the heart of an affluent area known as the ‘Golden Triangle’.

It will be run by Mark Quinn, a dual-qualified chartered financial planner and tax adviser. He brings 20 years’ experience advising individuals and businesses in the UK and Europe.

Mark has lived and worked in Portugal since 2014 and it was his interest in joining The Spectrum IFA Group that made it possible to re-open an office in Portugal.

This recent opening follows the establishment of an office in Malta in September 2021, adding to the offices already situated in France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Luxembourg.

Mark has over 20 years’ experience in finance and investment and is a dual qualified Tax Adviser and Chartered Financial Planner. Mark is originally from Manchester and moved to Portugal in 2014.

After obtaining a degree in Finance, he started his career in the UK as a researcher and report writer for several accountancy and advisory practices before being promoted to Independent Financial Adviser status in 2005. He has broad experience in advising individuals, companies and trusts in respect of their financial and tax issues.

In today’s world of finance one thing is clear, we all have to pay attention to and take great care of our own finances. Spectrum advisers are here to help you, our clients, with the many complex financial and tax issues you are confronted with: retirement and pension planning including QROPS, Life Assurance, efficient investing (using Insurance wrappers), succession and inheritance tax planning, currency exchange and many more.

As for most expatriates, these planning issues may exist in more than one country, and we believe working with experienced, qualified, cross border advisers who are themselves expatriates, and therefore facing similar challenges, is really important.

Throughout the group want our clients to stay involved and work with us to ensure they continue to prosper. We put an emphasis on continued financial advice and support with some of our clients having worked with their adviser for more than 15 years.

Our commitment to long term business relationships allows us to provide advice and reassurance during the inevitable changes in tax rules, movements in exchange rates and markets.

If you are thinking of moving to Portugal or are an expat currently living there, contact Mark via the form below: