There is something strange about turning 40. I remember my parents turning 40 and they hired a hall and had a big party with family and friends all around. That year was the first time I remember our house having expanding walls to fit everyone in at night, and I think breakfast was done in three sittings. They marked their birthday off in style, and I want to do something to mark the date. People say, get a tattoo, but even though I have worked within banking and finance for nearly 20 years, I am not a masochist and I really do not enjoy pain that much.

One thing that I learned all those many eons ago when I started dealing with personal finance, was the lifecycle of products. It is a simple way of saying, “at this age you should be looking at this type of product”. For example, a couple in their mid 20s will still be paying off student debt, but they need to plan for the future education needs for the child that they have just had, while also getting some life coverage in case something happens to them.

Twenty years is not a long time in finance, and this method is still being taught. Over the last 20 years however, the world has changed dramatically especially for people living and working abroad for whom it is much more difficult to pigeon you into a box,  or, more specifically, a product.

Flexibility is the key for people who are living abroad. Everyone knows that, however settled the roots you have laid here are, if something happens (and touch wood it doesn’t), you could be on the next plane back to your home country.

Perhaps all those financial plans you have laid down have just come tumbling down around you. You have money here in term deposits and bank accounts. Let’s see how easy it is to get the money out of the country when you are not here.  You have thought about this and made sure you have your money tied up in an offshore holding.  Do you know how long it will take to liquidise things so you can get actual cash into a bank account? Do you know how to report this to the relevant tax authorities back in your home country, and if you have to sell some stocks, are you ready for the tax bill on the gains that you have made?

These are the things that your advisor should be looking at with you when you are making a decision on any investment or savings vehicle. What fits one person will not fit you and vice versa, so make sure your investments and savings are working for you, not the other way around.

Paul McLardie is a partner at Total Wealth Management. Contact him at