Financial Considerations Before a Foreign Assignment

Financial factors to consider for expats

A. Generally speaking, what are the financial factors I should look into?

Soon-to-be-expats or current expats, when it comes to personal finances, should be aware of current and long-term impacts of international relocation.

Review immediate expenditures such as the cost of relocation, housing, taxes, transportation, and education. Before deciding to move abroad, you must consider if the offered financial package would:

  1. Satisfy your financial obligations
  2. Maintain your living standard
  3. Continue to meet your economic objective.

One crucial step to take is carefully examining possible duplicate expenses. Check expenses that you would incur at your home location as well as the assignment country such as health insurance, rent, etc.

As for the long-term financial goals, see if the international assignment would affect your retirement benefits as well.

B. How would my expatriate compensation package compare to my current package?

The compensation package offered to an ordinary American employee is generally different than the one provided to an international assignee.

The three most common approaches to international assignments are:
  1. Home-based: Based on the living standard of home country peers
  2. Host-based: Based on the living standard of host country peers
  3. Headquarters: Based on the living standard of the organization’s headquarters

Multinational organizations choose a different approach, but generally, an international assignee will receive the home-based compensation. However, with the fluctuating exchange rates, different tax systems, and cost-of-living. It is important to note that the payment will be inevitably different.

American expat in MadridC. Would my international assignment affect my equity in the company?

Unless told by the employer, your equity should not be affected. However, equity compensation is taxed differently in other countries when it involves vesting or sale.

Consult with your tax advisor to see how your equity would be affected in your destination country.

D. What about my health insurance?

To be covered abroad, you may need to apply for extra coverage.

You will most likely continue to contribute to the company’s health insurance and still be covered overseas. For specific health conditions that need extra attention, you are encouraged to speak to the relocation manager to find out the available medical services and even recommended doctors. In some countries, you may also be covered under their state-run health system.

E. How about my retirement plan?

This one heavily depends on the organizations’ retirement plan structure. You may, or you may not be able to stay in your current retirement plan during your assignment abroad. In case you can’t stay in the program, you discuss with a financial expert to find out other ways you can continue to contribute to your retirement.

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