While no one can predict exactly what’s around the corner, there are some sensible steps you can take to make your financial position as secure as possible.

Get Brexit-ready

If you have not recently given your finances a health check, you will almost certainly benefit from reviewing your situation now.

Deal or no deal, the new year begins with the UK’s full departure from the EU. While this should have no immediate impact for Britons lawfully settled in Malta, there may be longer-term effects for the unprepared. Might UK pension or tax rules, for example, change for non-UK residents in future?

Besides potential Brexit disruption, your circumstances and goals evolve over time. If you don’t keep up, you could find you are paying more taxes than necessary or missing out on opportunities that offer significant advantages. 

You should schedule a review of your financial situation at least once a year, looking at how your savings, investments, other assets, tax planning, pensions and estate planning are structured and how they can best work together.

Protecting your wealth

The current economic and political climate presents many challenges to preserving your wealth and seeing it grow over time.

For one thing, the prolonged period of low interest rates makes it harder to achieve good returns on bank deposits and lower-risk investments. There is also more global tax scrutiny than ever, with changing tax and pensions legislation. And, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to generate global economic uncertainty and market volatility.

At times like this, careful planning plays an important role in securing your financial security over the long term. While all investments – even bank accounts – carry risk, a suitably diversified portfolio can help manage risk within your comfort level. An essential step is establishing a clear, objective view of your risk tolerance to determine a suitable investment approach.

Most people who have built up or inherited wealth will benefit from an independent and expert review of their finances. It is extremely difficult to take a step back and look at your broad financial situation from a truly objective point of view, or fully understand the cross-border tax implications. As the goalposts often change, it is quite easy to get DIY tax planning wrong and potentially invite an unexpected tax bill or even a tax investigation.

A professional adviser can take time to thoroughly understand your unique situation, needs and objectives to tailor tax-efficient solutions – for you and your heirs.

The limits of UK-based services

If you have a relationship with a UK-based financial adviser or hold a British bank account or investment product, check they can legally provide services to you from January 1. As things stand, many UK financial businesses are set to lose their licence to operate within the EU/EEA once the transition period ends. We know of at least three major UK banks who have advised EU-based clients that they will be withdrawing services due to Brexit.  

While you should be able to retain existing UK accounts/policies and make withdrawals as an EU resident, you may be restricted from adding or moving funds and applying for new services. Foreign banks/providers may also refuse instructions from non-EU-based advisers.

If your UK provider hasn’t contacted you about this, ask them what arrangements they have in place for Malta next year.

Besides the legal implications, consider whether a UK-based provider is best placed to support you here. A strategy designed for a UK resident will not usually provide the same benefits to a non-UK resident, and it is unlikely that a UK professional will have in-depth understanding of Malta taxation and how it interacts with UK rules.

An adviser with local knowledge and expertise in cross-border tax planning can help ensure your wealth and assets are held as tax efficiently as possible for your life in Malta.  These may also offer other advantages, such as multi-currency options and estate planning flexibility.

Ultimately, the sooner you set up a suitable, long-term strategy to protect your wealth, the sooner you can have peace of mind about your financial future.

All advice received from Blevins Franks is personalised and provided in writing. This article, however, should not be construed as providing any personalised taxation or investment advice. Keep up to date on the financial issues that may affect you on the Blevins Franks news page at www.blevinsfranks.com.

Kevin Cassar, Regional manager, Blevins Franks

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