By Luigi Wewege
Diversification, stability, security and ease of operation: these are the ingredients most investors look for when choosing a domicile in which to invest. When it comes to the topic of offshore banking, it’s not unusual to get a dozen different opinions about where the best investment jurisdiction is located or where banks are most eager to attract foreign investors. Look beyond all the noise and you’ll find that Belize is consistently chosen by savvy investors for offshore banking.
Whether investors are planning their retirement, purchasing property overseas, or seeking greater asset diversification, banking in Belize can be a rewarding decision. Here are a just few of the reasons why.
Ease of Banking in Belize
Something that cannot be ignored is the ease of managing an offshore bank account in Belize. Some people are worried about offshore banking because they don’t really know what to expect, or they are worried about it being difficult or inconvenient. In reality, that misconception couldn’t be further from the truth.
It helps that the official language of Belize is English. Although you might hear Spanish, or even Creole, spoken on the beach, financial professionals all possess a complete and fluent command of English. All legal and financial documents are written English, relieving any concerns about a language barrier or the need to pay translation fees. Another reason that banking in Belize is so convenient is the time zone. Belize is located in the Central Standard Time Zone (CST). That means it is the same time on Ambergris Caye, Belize, as it is in Chicago, thus alleviating concerns about communication issues. i.e. banks operate during normal office hours, which just so happen to coincide perfectly with most North and South American hours of business.
Electronic Banking Convenience
While Belize is a short flight from many major cities, some financial institutions allow clients to open an offshore account from a remote location. This provides incredible convenience for those who want to establish an international bank account. Necessary documentation and opening funds can all be electronically transmitted to the new bank in Belize.
Fortunately, the convenience of electronic banking also extends to online banking services. As long as there is access to a secure internet connection and a smartphone, tablet, or computer, clients can safely transfer funds, check their account balances, and perform other online banking transactions 24/7 at their convenience.
Excellent Liquidity Rates Offer Incredible Stability
Arguably, one of the biggest concerns that any individual or corporation has in today’s world is banking stability. Even in places like Europe or the United States, major banks can go out of business. Economic stability is not guaranteed, so it is important to look for destinations where there is as much stability as possible.
Belize is a country that has taken the necessary steps to create greater financial security for residents and investors alike. Banks are required to have high liquidity rates. In fact, most banks surpass the national requirements and have more than 24 per cent liquidity rates. Compared to some North American banks with just 3, 4 or 5 per cent liquidity, this can provide peace of mind.
While no financial choice is completely free from risk, Belize also provides stability in other ways. There are free and democratic elections, which results in a balanced and steady government. Economically, its currency is pegged to the United States Dollar. This adds an extra level of reassurance when compared to other Central American and Caribbean banking destinations.
Diversification is Absolutely Key
People are often attracted to offshore banking for varied reasons. However, one of the most common is to diversify financial holdings. A basic tenet of ‘Economics 101’ is that in order to reduce risk, you need to diversify.
Many people diversify but continue to maintain their holdings within a single country’s jurisdiction. Ultimately, true diversification also includes geographic diversification.
Although Belize offers a chance to invest in a new geographic location, it also offers all the things investors can expect in a secure financial environment. This allows for diversification without the stress of learning a new banking system or even a new legal system. Belize operates according to common-law systems similar to those found in Britain, the United States, or Canada.
Unparalleled Asset Protection and Privacy
In decades past, certain nations held a monopoly on banking privacy and anonymity. As those destinations received increased publicity, however, banking clients actually received more scrutiny, not less. In Belize, banks still operate in a way that grants account holders and businesses financial privacy as well as asset protection.
This does not mean that a bank account be opened anonymously nor taxation avoided in the investors’ home territory What it does mean is that once assets are placed in a bank account in Belize, those assets are far more secure than they would be elsewhere, even in the face of potential legal action against an individual.
Diversity of Financial Options and Services
There is no shortage of options when it comes to the financial services offered in Belize.
Here are just a few examples:
- Financing – Real estate loans can be acquired in different currencies for both personal and corporate use. These include condo financing, residential or commercial construction loans, and land development loans.
- Prepaid Visa Card – This reloadable card makes personal or corporate purchases easy and secure. Clients receive 24/7 service assistance and the card can be used anywhere in the world that Visa is accepted.
- Gold Loan Program – Gold can serve as a great investment vehicle to store for future generations or to provide a safety net should a financial crisis occur. Participation in such a program allows investors to borrow against the value of gold they have stored in a secure offshore location.
From real estate loans for beach properties or building a dream home, to lines of credit for commercial accounts, there is plenty of variety as well as the opportunity to find specific investment options that suit the preferred level of risk.
There are several different types of offshore bank accounts in Belize for both personal and corporate use. This range of options further help individuals and companies diversify their financial portfolio.
Individuals can choose from demand deposits, savings accounts, term deposits and more for transferring funds to and from their bank account or reach a savings goal with favourable interest rates. Corporate solutions can be found for those with registered International Business Companies (IBCs), LLCs, Trusts, and a variety of other structures available.
Reputable Banking Systems
When choosing to bank offshore in Belize, it makes sense to bank with a financial institution that is established, financially solvent, and is recognised for its banking excellence. An example is Caye International Bank, headquartered on Ambergris Caye island in Belize. Just a few of Caye’s most recent recognitions include:
- Best Private Bank in Belize for 2018, 2019 and 2020 (Global Finance Magazine’s World’s Best Private Bank Awards)
- Most Outstanding Offshore Bank in Central America for 2018, and the Best Offshore Private Bank in Latin America for 2019 (Wealth & Finance International’s Banking Excellence Awards)
When selecting a bank, it is best to ensure that it is compliant with necessary regulations and is licensed to provide international banking services to both corporations and individuals as detailed earlier.
Discover Banking in Belize
Clearly, many investors around the world appreciate what Belize has to offer and choose this location to assist in asset diversification. However, it’s important to remember that not all banks are created equal.
Just as with any location in the world, it is important to select an offshore bank in Belize with a proven track record of honesty, integrity, and financial solvency. Inquiring about compliance with foreign regulations such as FATCA or if there are programs in place to prevent money laundering or other criminal activity should be a prerequisite regardless of the international banking jurisdiction chosen.
Offshore banking and investing continues to trend upward. When looking for the best locations for your offshore banking needs, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one more favourable than Belize.
About the Author
Luigi Wewege is the Senior Vice President, and Head of Private Banking at Caye International Bank, a FinTech School Instructor and Published author of The Digital Banking Revolution – now in its third edition.