We’ve recently heard from a handful of Americans abroad who had either moved outside of the United States or updated their U.S. address to an international one, resulting in Fisher Investments closing their accounts (or informing of the intent to close their accounts).
Now, this closing of accounts is nothing new when it comes to Americans moving abroad and trying to seamlessly move their investments with them. But this is the first we’ve heard of the account issues with Fisher Investments for U.S. expats. However, regardless of the brokerage, we’ve helped seek out solutions for U.S. expats in similar situations.
Below, we outline some of the key points of the conversations we have related to this topic.
Why Exactly Are My Fisher Investments Accounts Being Closed?
In the case of Fisher Investments, it’s unclear whether the accounts are being closed based specifically on the country of residence or if it’s being done for all Americans abroad. Though, as we’ve mentioned, this is a common obstacle for U.S. expats with many of the main brokerages, including Wells Fargo, UBS, and others. Simply put, this issue tends to boil down to compliance and the costs, and other burdens, inherent in maintaining that compliance in an international landscape. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, along with many other financial regulations related to anti-money laundering have played a role in this higher compliance environment. If you’re looking for more in-depth information on the subject, we wrote extensively about the difficulties of opening accounts as a U.S. expat in this whitepaper.
And it’s not just the financial component. As privacy regulations continue to tighten abroad, it’s also become increasingly more challenging to advertise and acquire new clients that live outside of the U.S. Not only is the cost of doing business more onerous, but the cost of growing that business is also compounded by compliance.
What Brokerage Should I Use Now?
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to a brokerage for Americans abroad. It’s a vast landscape from a regulatory standpoint, so some brokerages serve certain areas while others choose not to. Charles Schwab, Interactive Brokers, and TD Ameritrade all provide services to U.S. expats, though it can vary by country. We dive more into the various brokerage options, and their pros and cons, for Americans aboard in this piece.
How Walkner Condon Can Help
Our team of financial advisors – Stan Farmer, CFP®, J.D.; Syl Michelin, CFA®; and Keith Poniewaz, Ph.D. – works with U.S. expats and understands the intricacies of financial planning for Americans abroad. They help our clients with wealth management, guiding them through hurdles of currency, taxation, and country-specific regulations and building investment portfolios attuned to their specific needs and risk tolerance. You can learn more about the various subjects impacting U.S. expats in our Expat Investment Guide.