The one thing about South Africans is that we sure know how to take a punch, and boy have we had to suck up a lot of damage these past two years. The unpredictability and extreme volatility of the Rand has left local investors punch drunk and unable to figure out what their next move should be. In order to preserve or grow wealth as a South African, it’s becoming increasingly important to look abroad to ensure you aren’t held at the mercy of the Rand. But where do you start?
Firstly, know how much you can send out of the country
As a South African ID holder, you can move R1 million a year without a foreign tax clearance certificate from SARS. If you want to transfer more than that (up to R10 million per person), you will need tax clearance certificates. You can obtain these certificates relatively easily by using a trusted broker.
Once you’ve decided how much you’d like to send offshore, you’re going to need to decide exactly where you’d like that money to go. Let’s have a look at two ways you can position yourself to ensure you don’t get stung by a crashing Rand.
Keep it liquid
A lot of South Africans are currently trying to remain agile in the face of the uncertainty back home. Many are sending their cash assets to foreign accounts and holding their wealth in hard currencies like Dollars, Pounds and Euros. If everything goes pear-shaped in the South African economy and the Rand tanks, this will mitigate the risks posed by any future ZAR crashes. On the other hand, if things shake out in a positive way in South Africa, then you are in a position to easily repatriate your money into the South African economy.
Deciding which currency to buy into will depend on your future plans. Do you see your long-term interests aligning more closely with the Eurozone or North America? How do you diversify your cash holdings? These are case-specific questions that a regulated adviser can help you answer in a one-on-one consultation. Ideally, this is not the type of decision you want to leap into without the appropriate advice.
Keep in mind that your foreign cash assets might not net you massive returns. Globally, and particularly in developed countries, interest rates are very low. However, when factoring in potential Rand depreciation, you could save yourself a lot of pain.
Invest in offshore assets
South Africans typically seek refuge from volatility by investing in property. One of the more popular places to do this has been the UK, but the current prices there are far too rich for most Rand-buyers’ blood.
Recently, government-backed investment schemes have popped up over Europe. The most popular one with South Africans is in Portugal. It’s a residency by investment programme called the Golden Residence Permit Programme (GRPP).
The GRPP gives South Africans the opportunity to buy a residential property, starting at €350,000, which they can choose to live in or rent out. By making this investment, you will be given a so-called Golden Visa by the Portuguese government. This visa will allow you to live and work in Portugal as well as travel, visa-free, throughout the entire Schengen region. You can also put your partner and dependant family members on this visa.
After holding your visa for five years, and after you have satisfied certain criteria, you can apply for Portuguese permanent residency.
The great thing with this programme is that the Golden Visa doesn’t require you to spend more than two weeks a year in Portugal. You could therefore choose to live in South Africa while holding your Portuguese property. This allows you to not only suss out how the situation will turn out in South Africa, but it also gives you a decent amount of time to wrap up all your affairs. Then, in five years’ time, if things are not working out the way you hoped they would in South Africa, you can pack your bags and take your family with you to sunny Portugal.
Flexibility is key
What I’ve highlighted above are two very different investment options. What they have in common though, is flexibility. This is the main thing you need to keep in mind going into these turbulent times. None of us really know what the future holds in South Africa, and anyone telling you they do should be regarded with suspicion. It’s always better to hedge your bets than to take a wild gamble on a hunch.
If you're interested in the GRPP email our team on firstname.lastname@example.org. To get started making international transfers email our forex team on email@example.com. If you have a specific question about any of the below, simply leave a comment and we'll reply.
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