Andreas B., 45, is a hypothetical client*. He was accepted a transfer to Austin, Texas, to run the US unit recently acquired by his Swiss employer. The business opportunity for his firm is very promising and this transfer is a promotion for Andreas. It provides an opportunity for him to show his worth to the firm, and could be a path to the C-suite in Switzerland after his US assignment. The job offer includes generous deferred compensation incentives that could provide significant financial rewards for the family.
Andreas is married to Helen, 42, and they have three school aged children. Helen is a teacher and would like to explore teaching German in the USA once the family is settled in Austin. Helen’s top priority is to make sure their children adjust well to their American life and that they feel supported and contained during the transition.
Andreas and Helen hope to take advantage of the financial opportunity provided by this transfer to build up their wealth before returning to Switzerland. At the same time, they want to set aside time and a budget for travel through the USA and neighboring countries during their US stay. They would like to understand the impact on their finances of moving expenses, international travel and private schooling for their three children, who attend public schools in Switzerland.
- Andreas and Helen are four months away from their move and feel overwhelmed by all the decisions they need to make.
- They need a plan for their Swiss assets, including their Swiss home, Swiss pensions, and bank and investment accounts.
- Andreas is concerned about not making the best possible US employer-benefit elections and would like assistance understanding his options.
- Andreas and Helen have heard horror stories from fellow US-based Swiss expats about US tax complexity and IRS problems with foreign asset reporting. They want to make sure their tax matters are in good hands from the get-go.
- Andreas and Helen would like help with a family budget that takes into consideration their expected travel and education related expenses, in addition to their longer term savings goals.
Approach & Results
Andreas and Helen were understandably eager to go straight to tactical recommendations when they first met with us. They felt the urgency of the situation and the weight of having to make many important decisions in a very short timeframe.
We sat with them and explained how, like doctors, we could not prescribe a treatment without making a diagnosis first. We streamlined our discovery process to account for the timeframe limitations and focused on to understanding the critical facts that needed to be addressed first. During this process we discovered issues that Helen and Andreas didn’t realize needed to be addressed, and we helped them develop a strategy to prioritize their needs based on an importance and urgency scale. Helen took the role of project and budget manager, allowing Andreas to delegate financial decisions to her and free-up his time to focus on the demands of the new job.