Author Topic: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?  (Read 1872 times)

longtry

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Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« on: March 29, 2020, 02:51:11 AM »
I am from Vietnam and looking to invest in some stocks/ETFs/commodities in the US, or even worldwide is better if possible. Most of the posts here focus on what to choose (e.g. Vanguard) but overlook the part of how to do it (i.e. which brokerage firm...) - which is natural because most of us are American and have no problems investing in their very own country.

IMO, the priority takes a 180' turn when we switch our view to a non-US resident. Here our biggest concern is how sure we can be about our ability to withdraw the money from abroad. The risk of losing that whole investment is very real and will surely prove to be a disaster to Mustachian-type people when it happens.

So I have some questions for you guys & gals:

1. Are there sites which combine, or at least show, both "professional" and "population" reviews on a company/service? Something like what rottentomatoes does. During my little research, I found that many brokers have very high ratings from those professional sites (brokerchooser...) and very low from the population sites (forexpeacearmy...). Which means at least 1 side is wrong. I don't know, maybe the corporate sites got bribe money from the broker firms; or maybe the amateur sites are overcome by fake bots. Finding some unbiased sources is paramount.

2. If we can't find a site that satisfies 1., then I'd like to ask non-US Mustachians who are investing in the US: how do you do it? Will appreciate the details and your ratings on the current service.
(2b. - Alternative for US-based members: are you investing worldwide, for example Europe? What brokers are you using?)

Thank you all.

Hirondelle

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2020, 04:52:09 AM »
Hi longtry!

I'm in Europe but have some ties with Vietnam.

In Europe we have quite a few options and brokers allowing us to invest in worldwide ETFs. Some choose to go through their banks, others go through actively managed funds and then there's the brokers where you can just buy worldwide stocks and ETFs. So for most Europeans on the boards here, it's relatively easy.

Now for Vietnam I can imagine this isn't so clear cut as the part of the population that is interested in/able to invest is much smaller. One of my exes is an American living in VN and I know he invests locally (he had to move his money out of his USA broker once he lost residency), but not sure how and I'm not very keen on contacting him to ask for an internet stranger, sorry :p. Also one of my VN friends' parents have trust funds for their kids that are VN-based, but again I do not know where they have them and am not comfortable asking. I guess all I can say here is that there are actual options!

I am also not aware of any forumites in Vietnam, but I know @Adventine is in the Phillipines so she may face similar struggles! Most other forum members in Asia that I'm aware of are expats, but they may have useful insights still. I bet there must be some place on the internet where you can find Vietnamese information on investing. I guess you may not be able to find the same kind of super low cost funds, but you may still find plenty of ways to get at least started with international investments.

ETA: you may add to your title that you are in Asia, as it will attract the right members to your thread!

Reader

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2020, 05:18:36 AM »
I'm from Singapore. I invest in IWDA on the London Stock Exchange using a Singapore broker POEMS (www.poems.com.sg)
Another broker that is often recommended is Interactive Brokers but it is based in Hong Kong.

flipboard

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2020, 12:24:05 PM »
I'm from Singapore. I invest in IWDA on the London Stock Exchange using a Singapore broker POEMS (www.poems.com.sg)
Another broker that is often recommended is Interactive Brokers but it is based in Hong Kong.
Huh? Interactive Brokers (IB) are a US company. They happen to have a bunch of subsidiaries around the world, but fundamentally they're still a US broker.

IMHO they are actually one of the best brokers regardless of where you live, and even where you invest: cheap access to most of the world's markets and cheap FOREX makes them ideal for most needs. Where I live, many people use IB to buy US-domiciled ETF's (most commonly VT). In other countries, people use IB to buy Ireland-domiciled ETF's (most commonly VWRL).

Only drawback with IB used to be their full trading platform (TWS) is somewhat complicated. But both their website and their mobile app are quite easy to use.

longtry

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2020, 09:16:25 PM »
but not sure how and I'm not very keen on contacting him to ask for an internet stranger, sorry :p. Also one of my VN friends' parents have trust funds for their kids that are VN-based, but again I do not know where they have them and am not comfortable asking.
OK I think I found an introvert right here :p
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I bet there must be some place on the internet where you can find Vietnamese information on investing. I guess you may not be able to find the same kind of super low cost funds, but you may still find plenty of ways to get at least started with international investments.
ETA: you may add to your title that you are in Asia, as it will attract the right members to your thread!
Thanks but, isn't the more people read it the better? ;) Regarding info here, I've called some brokerages, they don't offer foreign investment. Also I did post the similar question in Vietnamese, but the fora now are overwhelmed with COVID & market crash, so a contrarian move like this is sinking like stones.

I'm from Singapore. I invest in IWDA on the London Stock Exchange using a Singapore broker POEMS (www.poems.com.sg)
Another broker that is often recommended is Interactive Brokers but it is based in Hong Kong.
Holy cow, I searched IWDA & the result of "iShares Core MSCI World UCITS" only adds more to the confusion. How long have you used POEMS & what do you think of it?

IMHO they are actually one of the best brokers regardless of where you live, and even where you invest: cheap access to most of the world's markets and cheap FOREX makes them ideal for most needs. Where I live, many people use IB to buy US-domiciled ETF's (most commonly VT). In other countries, people use IB to buy Ireland-domiciled ETF's (most commonly VWRL).
Your opinion is similar to the 'professional' sites, so maybe I should lean toward a conclusion that 'population' sites like forexpeacearmy are biased & wrong... On another note, can you enlighten me on why Ireland ETFs are attractive to people around the world?

Adventine

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2020, 04:35:46 AM »
Hello from quarantined Manila!

As a Filipino citizen living in the Philippines, the only practical way for me to invest in the US (and global) stock market is through local banks, who charge management fees on top of the underlying funds.

I'm not sure but I imagine it's similar for Vietnamese citizens based in Vietnam?

longtry

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2020, 09:14:54 PM »
I hope so. I'll try calling some banks. BTW, how much do they charge you, that management fee?

Adventine

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2020, 11:55:38 PM »
I hope so. I'll try calling some banks. BTW, how much do they charge you, that management fee?

Depends on the bank but don't expect anything close to what's available to US/European investors. Management fees locally hover around 1%. Not ideal, but I haven't found any better alternatives.

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2020, 09:43:11 AM »
Your opinion is similar to the 'professional' sites, so maybe I should lean toward a conclusion that 'population' sites like forexpeacearmy are biased & wrong... On another note, can you enlighten me on why Ireland ETFs are attractive to people around the world?
A lot of things on the internet are biased and wrong :).

IE-based is popular to many because:
- non-US, hence no estate tax issues (which is a concern for anyone in a country without an estate tax treaty with the US).
- No withholding tax in IE (an issue for anyone in a country without dual tax treaties).
- Good double-tax treaties, which results in e.g. 15% US withholding on US dividends going into the fund (as opposed to e.g. 30% withholding on US dividends going into a LUX fund).

Those last 2 are described in more detail e.g. in:
https://www.etf.com/sections/features-and-news/11306-dont-be-taxed-more-than-necessary-with-etfs?nopaging=1

It does look like IB are available for anyone in Vietnam and Philippines btw:
https://www1.interactivebrokers.com/en/index.php?f=7021

longtry

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2020, 12:23:27 AM »
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Management fees locally hover around 1%.
Wow, isn't it very good? Most brokers in my country propose 20% to 'manage' a stock account, which is beyond ridiculous. Er... does your bank in Phili extend service to foreigners abroad?
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(as opposed to e.g. 30% withholding on US dividends going into a LUX fund).
Those last 2 are described in more detail e.g. in:
Yeah, after reading that article I wonder if any non-US would want to invest in the US. I can hardly think of a reason.

Adventine

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2020, 03:43:25 AM »
Quote
Management fees locally hover around 1%.
Wow, isn't it very good? Most brokers in my country propose 20% to 'manage' a stock account, which is beyond ridiculous. Er... does your bank in Phili extend service to foreigners abroad?

Ooof, 20%? That's insane.

Well, I bank with BDO (Banco de Oro) and BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands), both of which normally only accept account holders with Philippine citizenship or valid residency.

I checked out the International Brokers website and they don't offer investment options in my local currency (PHP). I would much rather not expose myself to currency exchange rate risk right now, but you may want to check it out.

mrmoonymartian

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2020, 07:27:40 AM »
With a communist government I would be a lot more worried about local political risk than foreign custodial risk.

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2020, 11:33:23 AM »
Those last 2 are described in more detail e.g. in:
Yeah, after reading that article I wonder if any non-US would want to invest in the US. I can hardly think of a reason.
[/quote]
Lots of us live in countries with dual tax treaties with the US. US withholds 15-20%, that 15-20% gets credited against local taxes, ergo the withholding doesn't matter. For other countries, yeah it sucks.

It's not just the US, lots of countries have withholding taxes. But since I try to subscribe to a worldwide index I'm stuck with approximately 50% of my holdings being US stocks, but at least from a tax perspective it doesn't matter.

flipboard

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2020, 11:34:42 AM »
I checked out the International Brokers website and they don't offer investment options in my local currency (PHP). I would much rather not expose myself to currency exchange rate risk right now, but you may want to check it out.
I don't think you understand exchange rate risk.

Either you are investing purely domestically, in which case you have massive home bias risk. Or you invest internationally, in which case it doesn't matter what currency you invest in.

Adventine

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2020, 08:54:59 PM »
I checked out the International Brokers website and they don't offer investment options in my local currency (PHP). I would much rather not expose myself to currency exchange rate risk right now, but you may want to check it out.
I don't think you understand exchange rate risk.

Either you are investing purely domestically, in which case you have massive home bias risk. Or you invest internationally, in which case it doesn't matter what currency you invest in.

I don't earn in USD or any other strong currency, and to invest internationally requires much more of my local currency (PHP) than I am comfortable converting into another currency. I understand enough about myself to know that I don't want to do that.

longtry

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #15 on: April 01, 2020, 09:35:40 PM »
Well, I bank with BDO (Banco de Oro) and BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands), both of which normally only accept account holders with Philippine citizenship or valid residency.
I checked out the International Brokers website and they don't offer investment options in my local currency (PHP).
Thanks for the bank info, Adventine! Can't say I'm happy, but that's not unexpected either.
Regarding IB, my understanding is that in order to invest with them, we 1st have to exchange our currency into USD, then send that USD to their HQ in US or whatever branch they have, and finally being able to buy & sell in USD?
With a communist government I would be a lot more worried about local political risk than foreign custodial risk.
I'm not sure I can follow the latter part of your sentence. AFAIK, the biggest & about only risk of investing internationally from VN is that people can lose the whole amount of money... How can I be susceptible to jail risk in, say, the US?
Lots of us live in countries with dual tax treaties with the US. US withholds 15-20%, that 15-20% gets credited against local taxes, ergo the withholding doesn't matter. For other countries, yeah it sucks.
It's not just the US, lots of countries have withholding taxes. But since I try to subscribe to a worldwide index I'm stuck with approximately 50% of my holdings being US stocks, but at least from a tax perspective it doesn't matter.
Thank you for the explanation. I used the phrase to search, & the IRS website's list indeed doesn't have Vietnam included. Argg.
I guess now I better look for not-US options. Could you guys tell me what's the international equivalence of these ETFs: USO, IXC, PRNEX?

mrmoonymartian

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2020, 03:34:11 AM »
With a communist government I would be a lot more worried about local political risk than foreign custodial risk.
I'm not sure I can follow the latter part of your sentence. AFAIK, the biggest & about only risk of investing internationally from VN is that people can lose the whole amount of money... How can I be susceptible to jail risk in, say, the US?
A custodian is one that takes charge of something - a caretaker. You could call it counterparty risk if you prefer. I was talking about the risk of your broker or Vanguard collapsing or otherwise causing your money to vanish with no way to get it back, which you expressed concern about. Comparing risks I'd be more worried about your government causing your locally-held money/assets to vanish through capital controls, inflation, appropriation, taxation, etc. Venezuela style. I don't think that is very likely, but I think vanguard or interactive brokers pulling a Bernie Madoff on us is even less likely.

longtry

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2020, 10:08:23 PM »
Oh. I get it now, you meant 'custodian' not 'custodial'. Looking the latter up in dictionary led me to interpret the original post as being locked up abroad.
Yep, there's a risk of Venez-style actions. However, being an insider, I'm not too worried. Vietnam is all but a real communist country in practice. Of course, "the party" is very sensitive when someone attacks it from any angle, but if you are able to ignore that part then life can be quite peaceful & capitalist-like. On the contrary, Venezuela has been politically unstable for decades.

But I digress. I guess despite being left or right on the political scale, there are always Mustachian-like people who want to invest & have a healthy lifestyle.
...but on a second thought, maybe it's just because the country I happened to be born in is labeled as 'communist', that it doesn't get many tax treaties and other yummy stuffs with other nations. Being a Mustachian here can feel quite isolated and having far fewer options. It's like I have to fight the FIRE battle with deep handicaps all the way.

flipboard

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #18 on: April 03, 2020, 08:41:57 AM »
I don't earn in USD or any other strong currency, and to invest internationally requires much more of my local currency (PHP) than I am comfortable converting into another currency. I understand enough about myself to know that I don't want to do that.
What you earn in doesn't matter. Where you invest does matter. It sounds like you want to invest only domestically, which is dangerous: read up on home bias.

longtry

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2020, 09:37:41 PM »
bump for my questions are not really answered.

flipboard

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #20 on: April 07, 2020, 10:02:20 PM »
Well, I bank with BDO (Banco de Oro) and BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands), both of which normally only accept account holders with Philippine citizenship or valid residency.
I checked out the International Brokers website and they don't offer investment options in my local currency (PHP).
Thanks for the bank info, Adventine! Can't say I'm happy, but that's not unexpected either.
Regarding IB, my understanding is that in order to invest with them, we 1st have to exchange our currency into USD, then send that USD to their HQ in US or whatever branch they have, and finally being able to buy & sell in USD?
Nope. You can send them most currencies, they keep that currency for you. You can trade on any exchange using that currency, or exchange to another currency and trade in that currency. IB let you exchange at market rate for a fee of USD 2 which is possibly the cheapest exchange available.

Realistically, living in a country without a US dual tax treaty, you probably want to buy IE domiciled funds. But some IE-domiciled funds happen to be USD denominated (e.g. VWRL). So you'd exchange to USD, and then buy on e.g. the LSE.

What currency you actually buy in is irrelevant though, the underlying stocks are still denominated in whatever currency they happen to be regardless of what currency you use to buy the fund.

longtry

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #21 on: April 09, 2020, 09:35:50 PM »
Thanks flipboard. So it depends on the things we buy & sell, not us nor IB. Regarding Ireland-dom ETFs, how can I know what an equivalent of a specific US-dom fund is? I've found 1 or 2 sites with a search function, but they can't do what I just wrote above, aaand they appear to only be able to search the ETF's abbreviation.
Let's put it to a more concrete example. Now I'm interested in oil-related funds. Articles on the net recommend things like USO or IXC/PRNEX, but they're all US based. How can I find out if Ireland has any parallel options?

mrmoonymartian

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #22 on: April 13, 2020, 12:07:09 AM »
What about IOGP.LN?

longtry

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #23 on: April 14, 2020, 10:25:16 PM »
I'm more interested in how did you came to know that particular ETF rather than 1 single name...

mrmoonymartian

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #24 on: April 15, 2020, 02:26:50 AM »
Don't worry, googling for things outside the US is known to be NP-hard.

longtry

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #25 on: April 16, 2020, 10:29:12 PM »
So? What'd be your solution?

mrmoonymartian

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #26 on: April 17, 2020, 02:13:08 AM »
To solve this problem I'd try to implement a fully autonomous neural network which I would call "longtry" for short. I would provide a training dataset consisting of an answer which is easy for it to verify, which I would call "IOGP.LN". Then I would have the neural net execute serveral search functions by running the "google" algorithm to replicate the result and fine tune variable weightings to learn how to optimise for the correct output before extending the scope of the questions to be answered by said autonomous network.

longtry

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #27 on: April 18, 2020, 02:41:05 AM »
By "replicate the result", can you elaborate what the 'result' in this case is?

mrmoonymartian

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #28 on: April 18, 2020, 04:18:58 AM »
In the example case of looking for an oil ETF domiciled in Ireland, the result generously gifted to you was IOGP.LN. That is your precious training answer, or known positive result. Now when you go back to doing your own homework you can see when you are getting good at it because you will start getting that result coming up among the answers. Once you have trained yourself on how to do better searching, you will be in a better position to find answers to any other questions you may have.

longtry

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #29 on: April 19, 2020, 09:35:00 PM »
Thanks MoonMars, I kind of get it now. Before, I used Ecosia as the default engine to search, so filter-by-domicile available sites like etfinfo didn't pop up in the results. But googling did change that. It turns out your generously gifted answer is the sole IE-dom oil ETF... right?

mrmoonymartian

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #30 on: April 20, 2020, 03:10:10 AM »
On the LSE ETF exchange, yes. Along with the GBP version, SPOG.

But what about the 6 on the LSE proper - did you find those? And the 21 domiciled in Jersey, 3 in Switzerland, 1 in Germany and 1 in Luxembourg?
« Last Edit: April 20, 2020, 03:24:33 AM by mrmoonymartian »

longtry

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #31 on: April 20, 2020, 09:50:25 PM »
No... I didn't find them. The site doesn't have any filter for LSE or country SE in general. Before your latest post, from the info in this thread I only know that there are 2 good domiciles for non-US guys, & among them IE > LUX :) Thus the focus was on Ireland.

1 problem I have with many sites (actually, all of them) is that their info looks more suitable for machines, not humans. I was overwhelmed by the amount of figures and abbreviations and numbers and performance history & whatnots. For now, I just want to find a good ETF that closely monitors oil price, but translating "iShares V plc - MSCI World Energy Sector UCITS ETF - USD (Dist)" for example to that human phrase seems like an impossibly arduous work. And that's just for 1 fund.

mrmoonymartian

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Re: Non-US members: what do you use to invest abroad?
« Reply #32 on: April 21, 2020, 03:12:49 AM »
Impossibly arduous work is good for you. To whit, my final clue is that the remaining 6 Irish ones all happen to be on this list...

https://www.wisdomtree.eu/en-ie/-/media/eu-media-files/other-documents/product-list/etf-product-list.pdf