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lars forsberg of Longboat Retirement – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Should I keep my US bank , brokerage, investment, IRA, or retirement account if I move to Panama?
This, like many other questions posed on this site and others, has many answers, none right or wrong, but all dependent on each individual's situation.
If you are considering moving permanently to Panama or any place else for that matter, you may want to consider moving your money, too.
Or, if you want to invest in hard assets (a house or land) in a foreign country you may want to have accounts there, too.
Or, if you want to diversify your investments internationally, moving money and investment accounts abroad is a means to do that.
If you think you are going to hide money in Panama without breaking any laws - you'll probably lose your money to some shady guy in a straw hat with dark sunglasses.
Personally, I've done several of these things and I encourage others to do the same.  I have accounts, some money, and retirement savings invested in real estate in Panama.  I don't deal with shifty characters with dark sunglasses.
Since I help people diversify their retirement investments for a profession, it was easy for me.  If you are not knowledgeable in these things, you may want to ask somebody who is.
You may want to think twice about asking a "Financial Advisor" about these things as it is quite unlikely that he or she knows anything past investing in the US stock and bond markets.
Frankly, while Financial Advisors sometimes have your best intentions in mind, often they are more concerned with making commissions on sales of securities.
In other words, don't go to a Ford dealer and expect them to tell you to go down the road and buy a Chevy.  It's not going to happen.
Volcan Baru Sunset last week:

Jeff Barton of Punta Pacifica Realty – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Calle 50 Tower Bank, Panama City, Panama – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThere are opportunities to open your own investment accounts in Panama. Most of the financial institutions have brokerage accounts in Panama so you would be an opportunity to have both.
When you open a foreign investment account, if you are a US citizen, there are additional tax and compliance requirements that some people prefer not to have to deal with, including FBAR (Foreign Bank Account Reporting). But it is definitely an option and many people switch over entirely or do a hybrid of accounts that are based in Panama and keep what they have in the US.
( Calle 50 Tower Bank at night, Panama City, Panama , pictured.)
Eddie Montes of Panama Property Rentals – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Panama City, Panama, the southern entrance to the Panama Canal – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingIn my case, I kept my IRAs and all of my investment accounts in the US just for convenience because that is where they originated from and I believe that the brokerage system in the US is a little bit more advanced than here in Panama.
Here in Panama, they provide basic banking services even if they do offer investment advice as well.  There are many of the international brokerage houses in Panama. I just chose to leave my accounts for those types of investments in the US.
(Panama City, Panama, the southern entrance to the Panama Canal, pictured.)
Paul McBride – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Whether you keep you bank and investment accounts in the US if you move to Panama is something that you should carefully discuss with your financial advisor, broker or local bank official. There are a couple of things you need to keep in mind before moving any money or investment funds into Panama:
  1. Banks in Panama do not offer deposit insurance.  Unlike banks in the US and elsewhere, bank accounts in Panama are not insured.  Because of this, every dollar you place into a Panama bank is at risk should the bank fail.   This means that it is up to the customer to do the research to determine the safety and solvency of any bank in Panama.
  2. Higher return generally means higher risk.  If a banking institution or a brokerage firm is offering higher than market rates for an investment it usually means there is a higher level of risk involved.  Before you make any investment you should understand the risks and rewards involved.
  3. Panama has a less active regulatory environment.  This means that the rules and regulations governing financial transactions may offer less protection for the consumer.
  4. Diversification is a key element for any investment portfolio.  If you feel you need to move your money into hard assets, Panama is a great place for doing so.  For example, the current corporation and foundation laws allow greater levels of privacy and protection for investors than many other countries.  For example, shareholders of Panamanian corporations are not publicly registered.  Therefore assets held in these corporations offer better protection against personal liability.
  5. Property rights are well established in Panama.  In Panama, when you buy real property (land, homes or investment property) you can hold clear title and record your deed in the Public Registry.  Due diligence is required and you and your attorney will need to confirm that the property you are considering purchasing is free and clear from any liens or encumbrances but once the title is transferred clear ownership is established.
Elizabeth Vance of The Gringo Guide To Panama: What To Know Before You Go – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Maintaining a US bank account is also important for some online shopping, which you may do when you live in Panama. Many online vendors require a US credit card for purchases and won't accept a foreign-based credit card account. For this reason, it's also a good idea to maintain your US bank accounts, at least one of them.
Roy Cannon of Gestoria Cocle - main office in Penoneme – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
As you are coming to a new country it is recommended that you maintain your current accounts until you have lived here in Panama for a year or so.  You will find that local banks have a lot of fees and hidden charges that you are not paying at home.  This is especially the case with local credit cards which will charge you an annual fee, plus a fee as "fraud insurance", plus a fee called "life insurance" and even a fee if you do not use the card X times in a billing period.  And Cash Back.....if you get this it will not resemble what you are used to.  Use your foreign credit card anywhere in Panama, Amex is less accepted, but Visa and MasterCard are universally accepted.  However, check your foreign card's fees, many are not applying a 3% surcharge for use outside of your home country.  There ARE cards that do not do this, shop around.
ATMs are available all over the country and your foreign bank card and credit card will normally be accepted.  There is a small fee ($3 I believe) for using a foreign card in an ATM and you are limited to $500 per transaction.  Multiple transactions can be processed, up to the limit set by your home bank.  Your home bank, may charge you for using your card outside of the country, check before you come, and perhaps you might want to change banks at home before you leave.
One major US brokerage firm reimburses credit card and even ATM charges when you are out of the country, but they offer this service to US the account before you go and don't bother telling them that you are moving abroad permanently, and of course, keep a US mailing address.  
There are several companies in Panama that can rent you a US mailing address (street or PO Box, or both) and who fly your mail to Panama, helping you to keep a "US presence" for you various accounts.

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