Here’s a guide through the world of offshore savings and a recommended approach to protecting your nest-egg against inflation.
1. Protect against inflation – The real return savers actually make from interest rates is the actual profit you are left with after taking the effects of the currency’s inflation into account. Inflation is the rise in prices for goods and services over a period of time – usually calculated annually. When weighing up a rate offer, deduct the known inflation percentage to find out how much you’ll actually end up. Advisers also tell savers to include the impact of tax when estimating a potential profit to ensure an accurate projection of likely returns.
2. Protect against bankruptcy – Following a period of intense merger activity within the offshore savings sector, all savers should check that their accounts are not spread amongst deposit-takers owned by the same parent institution. If so, only a portion of your overall savings nest-egg may qualify for compensation if a deposit-taker goes to the wall.
3. Protect against lack of compensation rights – We’ve seen the collapse of two Icelandic banks in offshore Britain (Landsbanki Guernsey and Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander Isle of Man) so we know the worst does happen to some savers. It is essential to always interrogate a jurisdiction’s financial compensation scheme before putting a penny of your hard-earned cash with any of its financial institutions.
4. Protect against ID fraud – It is imperative you comply with identity protection procedures initiated by your deposit-taker. Your part of the bargain in the fight against fraud is never reveal passwords and security codes to anyone. If savings accounts are managed online, never leave a computer screen bearing the details. Do not fall victim to an email scam asking you to re-register your personal details. Real financial institutions would never compromise their customers in this way.
5. Protect against adverse terms and conditions – Always read the small print of any terms and conditions when opening an account. Look out for penalties in the form of loss of interest against withdrawals made outside the notice terms and ways in which you could miss out on introductory, or loyalty bonuses.
6. Profit by comparisons – it pays to research the rates paid by deposit-takers. Be sure to compare like with like and don’t be taken in by a new rate offer that is well above the market average. Those tempting percentages could be slashed once savers have been caught in the net.
7. Profit from a competitive market – Today’s market is more competitive than ever. To put it bluntly, financial companies want savers more than they do borrowers. Select a handful of consistent top league payers and do your research to find out which one really wants to reward your customer loyalty.
8. Profit by tracking market movements – Rates paid are still pegged to a currency’s base rate set by central banks. If you saving in sterling, euros and US dollars, make sure you stay abreast of these currencies’ base rates to gauge the rate offers on your accounts.
9. Profit by locking away for longer – Recent economic conditions aside, the best paying accounts are those that lock savers into a fixed term – we’re talking a couple of percentage points’ difference. Calculate how long you can manage without accessing your savings pot and match that period with a provider’s best fixed term offer.
10. Profit by saving regularly – Get the best from regular savings with products that encourage and reward such good habits.