Raising Standards in Financial Advice for Expats

This article was originally published by Italian Insider – an English language newspaper and website for expats in Italy

Valiant Wealth are setting new standards in independent financial advice for international people resident in Italy.

Trading as Valiant Wealth, Tom Goold and Adam Smith have combined their years of experience and expertise to bring UK regulated financial advice to the Italian market.

Valiant Wealth specialise in providing independent financial advice and planning for expats and international people in Italy. “We work with people from a range of backgrounds and we have a model that suits any individual who needs independent advice regardless of their nationality. We’ve helped expats from all over the world and also have years of experience dealing with people at the United Nations. Many of our clients have some kind of cross-border concern where they have assets in other countries or need to prepare for a potential move elsewhere in the future.” Adam explains.

“We’ve worked hard to find solutions for expats who often struggle to get sound financial advice abroad. We have tax efficient solutions that are ideal for Brits, Canadians, Australians and South Africans looking for the best way to save and invest. Through our network we also have an SEC license and can provide support to Americans and US connected persons on assets such as 401ks and IRAs.”

“Our financial planning process takes care of people with everything from savings, tax-efficient investments, pension planning, tax planning, insurance, estate planning, international property investments and UK pension transfers. We’re introducing a wider range of solutions for expats with lower cost products that are more flexible in terms of contributions and withdrawals.”

Valiant Wealth has been created with a different model to the existing expat advisories based in Italy and Tom and Adam feel it is one that firmly puts the clients’ needs first.  “We’ve both been living here for several years and working in the financial services industry. We created our company out of feelings of disillusionment over the way clients are generally looked after when it comes to receiving independent financial advice in Italy.” says Tom, who lives in Rome with his Italian wife and their two children.

Co-director and founder, Adam Smith, who is also married to an Italian and lives in Rome with two children agrees: “I’ve been living in Italy for seven years and understand how difficult it is to find truly independent financial advice that puts the prosperity of clients above that of the company. The Italian banking system has endemic problems and the alternatives provided by asset managers aren’t truly independent as their advisors are driven to sell a select range of products that typically generate high commissions and have complex fee structures. The majority of expat advisories operate a model that pays them generous up front commission indemnified by client fees and a surrender penalty. We feel this way of working is unethical and will gradually start to disappear as tighter regulation forces advisors to be more transparent about how they get paid.”

What sets Valiant Wealth apart is their fee-based client-first business model. “When we came up with the blueprint for our company we wanted to create something different and provide clients with an alternative. We guarantee the same standards that they could expect to receive in the UK which is one of the most strictly regulated markets in the world.

“We are opposed to a commission-based model that takes care of the prosperity of the advisor before they have delivered results for the client and offers little incentive to provide ongoing care. We’ve turned this around. We do not take commissions and all our fees are transparent and agreed upon with clients. We’re in the business of adding value which we do through diligent planning and ongoing care.”

Valiant Wealth are supported by a solid infrastructure and robust regulation. “We’re part of a UK based network which means that our advice follows UK standards and is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This makes sure that we have the best proposition for clients and a bulletproof setup. We’ve also taken care to be listed on the relevant registers in Italy.”

With UK regulation, it begs the question how Valiant Wealth will be affected by Brexit. “This is an important concern for everyone. From a business point of view we’re protected as our network has branches in other EU countries. Our clients can feel safe in our hands as we have access to providers in multiple jurisdictions to be able navigate every possible outcome from Brexit and find the best opportunities. It is in times of uncertainty that advisors prove their worth as we’re here to provide the expertise and support to keep our clients on a smooth financial path.”

“Brexit could lead to an exodus of EU professionals from the UK particularly from sectors such as banking. We have helped numerous banking professionals in Milan who have worked in London and come to us for advice on their UK assets such as pensions, investments and property. We’re already experiencing an increase in demand from professionals who want to transfer their UK pension to a SIPP or a QROPS to have greater control and be protected from future changes in UK pension legislation.”

With a sound foundation the future looks bright for Valiant Wealth and expats in Italy. “We’re both committed to bringing up our families in Italy and being here for the long term and that’s reflected in the way we’ve established our business. Unlike others in the past we’re not here to make a quick buck and then disappear. We’re interested in building long-lasting relationships with clients. We make a promise to not only help them map the path but to walk the journey by their side.”

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