How to get financial help as an expat

Just because you’ve moved from Australia doesn’t mean you won’t need some help and advice about your tax returns and financial situation any more – in fact, you will probably need that sort of advice even more! That’s because while you are well accustomed to the sophisticated and streamlined systems in place in Australia, the other countries of the world are not all the same.

So you’re an Australian expat, you need help with your tax return or just some financial advice – where do you start looking now that you’re outside your comfort zone? Here are some tips:

Ask your friends

Like anything, a referral from a family member or a friend can be golden, so if you know someone who has been in your particular shoes, done the leg-work and come out smelling of roses on the other side, lucky you.

Check who the regulator is

As an expat, you are more vulnerable than before when it comes to the possibility that tax or financial advice you are seeking may be bad. And that could cost you money. So while an Australian tax or financial advice company will be well regulated, how can you ensure a company abroad gives you the same protection? Firstly, try asking, including requesting to see copies of certificates of registration, or try looking up on the internet if the country’s government keeps a public record of accredited companies.

Check their experience

Finding good advisors to help you with your Australian tax returns or with other financial matters should be no more difficult than finding a decent hairdresser, or a decent florist, because the best indicator for finding a quality firms is the evidence of their experience and of their results. So ask them about satisfied customers that are in similar situations to you, and whether you can be provided with a testimonial.

Another universal sign of a good business or agent is how long they have been in business, and how well qualified their staff are, so don’t be shy to do more asking and back it up with as much research as you can do.

Use your instincts

It may be a different country with different regulations and a different culture, but we’re all human at the end of the day and your intuition is as good in Australia as it is elsewhere. So make sure you feel comfortable with your advisor and sense that the tax and financial advice they are giving you makes sense. If you’re not comfortable and don’t quickly trust them, move on before it costs you.

Shane Macfarlane CA
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