Solid advice for expatriates in Thailand with cash to invest - where to go and where not to
I have just finished reading “Your Investment Guide to Thailand” and I’m impressed. I don’t work in the finance sector, but I have dabbled in Thai investments, particularly mutual funds.
Since I am now in a position to expand my investment portfolio, the “Guide” couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s given me a much better understanding of the Thai market, as well as confidence to move forward that was previously lacking.
Despite its title, the book also contains general information about living in Thailand that will be useful even to people not currently interested in investing.
Another thing I liked was that pointers are provided throughout to further references and information sources. This gives readers the ability to do more in-depth research if required, and to access newer data at a later date.
The “Guide” covers a lot of ground, and this review can only provide a sampling of the information.
The first section, “Getting Ready to Invest”, outlines the basics of personal financial planning from an expatriate’s perspective. This is followed by an in-depth overview of Thailand as a place to invest that includes some fairly accurate generalisations about the traditional types of expat investors.
The coverage of practical basics for newly arrived expats includes visas, opening accounts, establishing a home office, transferring funds to Thailand, and marriage and estate planning.
Long-term expats may be tempted to skip this section, but I would suggest they don’t. I’ve been living in Thailand for more than seven years and consider myself quite well informed, but I still discovered more than a few interesting facts in this section of which I was completely unaware.
The second section, “Your Investment Options”, provides a complete overview of the six main opportunities in Thailand: real estate, buying or creating a business, gold, Thai stocks, Thai mutual funds and Thai bonds and other debt-related investments.
The discussion of each includes a description of regulatory issues and relevant agencies, details of past investment performance, and a step-by-step how-to discussion of the process of making an investment.
There is further information as well specific to that particular type of investment. For example, the section on real estate provides an excellent summary of the various measures employed to work within the restrictions on foreign ownership of land. The section on owning a business, on the other hand, explores cultural differences in the workplace.
Established expats will probably find this section the most appealing. This is no slight to the remainder of the book, jam-packed as it is with helpful information. But for me, the value of the material in this section alone more than justified the asking price.
Section 3, “Finalising and Implementing your Investment Strategy”, completes the picture and walks readers through the process of moulding disparate ideas into a logical and cohesive personal investment strategy.
This section has two parts. The first discusses Thailand’s comparative position from a global perspective, before moving on to consider current influences on its investment potential, and finally its future outlook.
The second part looks at the process of developing, monitoring and adjusting a personal investment strategy. This features a mix of investment theory for novice investors as well as practical advice about issues such as choosing a bank, stock broker and fund manager.
I can’t think of a better way to conclude this review than to paraphrase the author:
“Due to the large number of individual variables, there is no definitive answer as to which are the good or bad investments in Thailand, but there are good and bad ways of investing which do apply to everyone.”
To my mind, “Your Investment Guide to Thailand” is a must-read for all expats as well as those thinking of moving here. Whether you allow yourself to be “guided” or not is up to you, but clearly, for many expats, the penalty for cutting corners and getting it wrong has been dire. Highly recommended reading.
Charles McMurray is a Bangkok-based expatriate who works in international logistics.