分类: rogelio caceres

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The Mobility Standard #3: David Lesperance – The Bulletproof Backup Plan

In this third episode of the Mobility Standard, we had the pleasure of hosting David Lesperance, an internationally recognized expert on what he himself calls “backup plans”, by which he means comprehensive structures aimed at protecting your person, your family, and your assets from anything from black swan events and natural disasters to avaricious politicians and criminals. 

We asked David about a range of his favorite subjects including:

  • US expatriations
    What’s really going on with Americans renouncing their citizenships? Some say the numbers falling, others insist it’s at all-time highs but that the real numbers are obscured. What’s the reality?
  • Wealth taxes
    What are the latest developments around wealth taxes around the world? How are the rich protecting themselves against quickly rising tax burdens by investing in alternative citizenships and residencies?
  • The bulletproof backup plan
    As globalization increasingly goes into reverse and a more regionalized, geopolitically less stable world emerges in the wake of COVID, what does a bullet-proof Backup plan look like? If you want to keep being able to enjoy global freedom to travel, trade, and settle, what flags do you need to plant and where? 
  • Citizenship-based taxation during the remote-work era
    At the very same time that the highest earners have discovered they can work remotely, the states and countries in which they live have decided to raise taxes drastically. A lot of them will be asking, “why shouldn’t I move to a lower-tax jurisdiction”. What will the political reflex in rich countries be? Is it a proliferation of citizenship-based taxation?

Below, you’ll find an excerpt of some of the more salient moments of the episode:

US missions “refusing to schedule” renunciation appointments

Questioned as to the true levels of Americans giving up their citizenship, David Lesperance offered a detailed account of the disparity between the number of Americans trying to renounce, the number that is able to, and the number of renunciations that are reported.

“You have a huge backlog,” commented Lesperance. “In fact, the US embassy in Bern is reporting they have 400 people on their waiting list to schedule appointments for renunciation. And you have to remember: That’s just one of 307 US missions abroad.”

The reported numbers don’t reflect current demand, explains Lesperance, first because there’s a 12-18 month lag between the renunciation and the publishing date of that event, and second because many US diplomatic missions downright decline to take renunciation appointments, ostensibly out of public health concerns. He estimates the true number of renunciations awaiting is in the tens of thousands, at least.

The press, he adds, were quick to attribute record renunciations in late 2016 to Trump’s election, and the even greater numbers in early 2020 to COVID, neither of which were related events.

“COVID wasn’t even a twinkle in a bat’s eye at the time those [renunciations] that were only now getting reported actually took place.”


See also:


The post-pandemic backlash against the rich

In the United States, Lesperance points out, the rich know this money will have to come from them because there is no VAT, which means the Washington is far more reliant on personal income taxes for funding than their European counterparts. With a change in the political discourse, the wealthy are seeing the writing on the wall.

“You are seeing people of means do what humans naturally want to do, which is to protect themselves and their families. And the people of means have the ability to do that better than the vast majority of the population. Governments have responded [to the pandemic] with stimulus and spending, and they’re going to need more money. […]The conversation has turned from ‘let’s get money for good stuff’ […] to ‘let’s take money from bad people’, and ‘there shouldn’t be any billionaires or pandemic profiteers’.”

Wealth taxes, he says, are but one manifestation of that, which is why we are seeing proposals for such levies in places like Mexico, the UK, the US, and even Singapore, while Argentina has already imposed one. In the episode, Lesperance discusses some of the many tools HNWIs have at their disposal to protect themselves through tax, residency, and citizenship planning.

Separate your a** from your assets

“You have to look at residency, citizenship, and domiciles as you do any other type of asset class; you look at it as a portfolio,” says Lesperance when questioned about what a “bulletproof” backup plan might look like. “You have to have assets in different jurisdictions. I, for example, have a NAFTA-asset through my Canadian citizenship, I have an EU asset [through permanent residency in Poland], I could very easily get an asset in another group, like New Zealand/Australia, or an ASEAN-country.”

But residency, citizenship, and settlement rights diversification alone are not enough, he emphasizes.

“With regards to your money, one of the things I always tell my clients is that we can separate where you are from where your money is. I call it separating your a** from your assets.”

Learn many more of Lesperance’s strategies by listening to the full episode.

More episodes of the Mobility Standard:

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Podcast: Pandemic’s Lessons for IM Programs and the Impact of a North Macedonian CIP

For investment migration, 2020 was a year of both setbacks and of considerable advances. While the pandemic brought record global awareness of the usefulness of alternative citizenships and residencies, it also made putting investment migration plans into practice far more difficult.

Some programs have seen record application volume while others have seen it collapse. Service providers speak of a sharp rise in demand, but also difficulty in catering to it.

In this second episode of our new podcast, the Mobility Standard, we discuss how different investment migration programs performed in 2020, and ask which lessons may be gleaned from those observations.

We’ll try to explain the divergence in performance during the pandemic between Greece and Portugal, and why the Caribbean was able to carry on with business as usual. We want to know whether there is something besides the pandemic that explains the sharp decline in EB-5 applications over the last year, and also try to map out the regional center program’s future beyond its June 30th expiry date.

Ahmad wants Stephane Tajick, our guest in this episode and the designated Canadian, to explain why Canada, an ostensibly immigrant-loving country, keeps making it harder to immigrate.

We want to know if 2020’s reportedly sharp rise in inquiries will translate into actual applications in 2021, and also try to understand which markets will be the biggest sources of investors in the next few years.

Finally, we have to talk a little bit about the biggest news story this week; the heralded opening of a North Macedonian CIP, and what effect that will have on the competitive balance of European CIPs.

Timestamps:

  • 02:16: What explains the sharp divergence in performance between the Greek and Portuguese golden visas in 2020?
  • 07:36: Why were applications and approvals for the Caribbean CIPs relatively unaffected by the pandemic?
  • 11:31: What, except the pandemic, explains the sharp downturn in applications and approvals for the US EB-5 program in 2020?
  • 13:00: Moment of Truth for the EB-5 program. What happens after June 30th?
  • 19:46: Why does “immigrant-loving” country Canada keep making it harder for people to immigrate?
  • 24:43: Many firms have reported tremendous increases in the number of inquiries about investment migration programs in 2020 but, so far, this hasn’t translated into a corresponding increase in applications. What’s behind this schism?
  • 32:03: Which are the next big source markets for investment migration?
  • 36:52: A small crisis in the Vietnamese investment migration market
  • 39:06: Which programs will absorb the strong demand that existed for the now-closed Cyprus CIP?
  • 44:57: How will the increasingly likely prospect of a North Macedonian CIP affect the competitive position of other CIPs in Europe and the Caribbean?

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First Episode of IMI’s New Podcast, The Mobility Standard, Out Now

IMI finally has its own podcast: The Mobility Standard. Listen to Episode 1 today: The Rise of Western Investor Migrants.

In the podcast, IMI’s editor, Christian Nesheim, as well as Rogelio Caceres, Ahmad Abbas, and expert guest speakers dissect current events, trends, and crucial questions related to investment migration.

To begin with, we’ll be producing an episode every other week, inviting a new guest each time.

Episode 1: The New Investment Migration Market and the Rise of Western Investor Migrants

In this inaugural episode, there’s no guest but the three co-hosts discuss one of the most momentous market trends to emerge in the last year: The rise of Western investor migrants.

2020 has seen a surge in investment migration among applicants from countries we tend not to think of as typical outbound investment migration markets and we ask:

Is this just a flash in the pan that will revert to normal when the pandemic is over? If not, what does it mean for investment migration programs, service providers, and applicants?

We discuss how different citizenship and residence by investment programs have evolved to cater to the preferences of non-Western applicants, and how they might need to change to start attracting a Western audience.

We also ask: Now that the pandemic has kickstarted awareness of investment migration products among Americans, how can the industry capitalize on this unique historical period to make sure that awareness remains and even grows?

We have submitted the show to most of the leading podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify, the latter of which has already listed us, which means you can follow the show there now by clicking this link. Our Apple Podcast and Google Podcast listings should be available within a week.

The Mobility Standard will have a permanent home on IMI here.

We also invite you, the listeners, to send in your questions ahead of the next episode. If we’re able to answer them, we’ll do so next time we air.

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US Market Activation is “Largest Opportunity in Mobility Industry’s History”: 10 on the Weekend – Rogelio Caceres

Ten On The Weekend is a semi-weekly feature in IMI, the concept of which is simple: Each time, we ask the same ten questions of a different industry figure, letting readers get to know the interviewee on a more personal and informal level than they might in an ordinary business setting.

Our guest this weekend is Rogelio Caceres of Global RCG


How do you spend the weekends?
“Weekends”? What are those, again? As a serial entrepreneur, my passions “outside of work” have inevitably morphed over the years into a continuation of various firm-building activities during the weekend as well. For all the pain, suffering, and economic loss brought about by the global COVID-19 pandemic, however, I learned an incalculably valuable lesson, which has proven to be such a blessing:

For grizzled road warriors like myself (and 80%+ of IMI’s readership, I suspect) the experience of being “grounded” at home slowly and inexorably made me realize how much I was missing from truly being present with my family, especially in the lives of my three little girls. This stark realization has since caused a permanent shift in my priorities for which I am forever grateful. Now, although no one will ever confuse me with “Mr. Mom” (great 80’s movie reference), I am now fully an active member of the crazily rambunctious and never dull Caceres household, and a proud #girldad.

What are your top three business goals this year?
2021 is already shaping up to be a very exciting year as we tackle the most ambitious market entry and activation effort of my lifetime. We have the potential, collectively as an industry, to change both the face of the industry we all love and the way Americans, Latin Americans, and Western Europeans view it. Personally, it is quite sobering to realize how challenging times have become in this country that I love. The United States is facing a period of unprecedented uncertainty that permeates almost every aspect of American life today. To name just a few areas of unrest:

  • The global COVID-19 pandemic weakened the confidence many Americans have in our federal government to manage future global disruptions and crises successfully; 
  • We remain grounded as our cherished US passports have lost significant international travel privileges;
  • Steep increases in US income, capital gains, carried interest, and/or corporate tax rates, as well as a potential “one-time” wealth tax, are increasingly likely;
  • Acute political dysfunction in Washington DC, decreasing the likelihood of much-delayed and needed reforms becoming law;
  • And levels of social unrest across the country that have not been seen in two generations.

Is it really a surprise, therefore, that only 20% of Americans are satisfied with the direction our country is headed in? According to New World Wealth’s Global Wealth Migration Review, the top ten markets from a net HNWI outflow perspective produced a total of 84,500 HNWIs over the last two years. Yet, according to IMI’s Data Center, the best source of market data I have seen, fewer than 1,000 Americans invested in the same asset class during this same time period [ed.: the true figure is a great deal higher; IMI has been able to confirm fewer than a thousand because many popular programs don’t make nationality data available]. 

I believe that many (if not most) Americans are eager to hedge these risks by acquiring a non-traditional insurance policy of sorts and thus ensure and protect their quality of life. This is why the United States, a country with nearly 20 million millionaire households (more than the next eight wealthiest countries combined) represents the largest, most attractive new market activation and development opportunity in the history of the global mobility assets industry.

As such, my first goal is to successfully launch Global RCG (short for Residency & Citizenship Group), the first US-based investment advisory firm purpose-built to unlock the power of the global mobility asset class in the lives of forward-thinking American investors and their families. What’s a Global Mobility Asset (GMA)? Americans are a very proud people who take citizenship very seriously, so one of my first decisions was to rebrand Residency and Citizenship By Investment to Global Mobility Assets (GMA), which aptly and succinctly describes the $21 billion asset class in a much more direct (and less controversial) way. We will focus on helping qualified American investors find right-fit GMA opportunities in destinations ranging from Canada and the Caribbean to Europe, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand.

My second goal is to continue to build out a world-class team to help bring the Global RCG vision to life. Tate Worswick, formerly at UGlobal, is the newest Principal at the firm and brings deep industry expertise and a world-class international network of relationships in the space. We continue to rely on, and are grateful to receive valuable advice from, a wide range of talented advisors and “friends of the firm”. If you’re reading this and you’re interested in making a move, we’re looking for the best of the best to join us in sunny Miami, Florida, or sunnier Newport Beach, California, and we already have new offices planned for San Francisco,  Austin, and New York City by the end of this year.

My third goal is to continue to develop strong partnerships in the industry, while we attract and serve U/HNW clients across the United States and abroad.  I believe it is likely that the international travel market has been permanently disrupted by COVID-19 and will evolve in ways that are impossible to predict. American businesspeople, investors, and executives are growing more and more interested in protecting their assets, freedoms, and family wealth by acquiring pre-vetted and reliable GMAs. Strong win-win alliances and partnerships will help drive a win-win-win-win for all of us involved (clients and their US advisors, trusted partners in legal, tax, and investment sectors, as well as international real estate developers and local agencies.

What’s your biggest business concern right now?
Over the last 18 months, as I slowly began to transition from being a mere casual observer of the global RCBI industry to a committed new entrant by launching the first US-based U/HNW inbound investor-focused firm in September 2020, I have been struck by the obvious limitations of a short-term, transaction-based approach. An immediate concern that comes to mind is problematic behavior caused by the commission-based incentive structures that tend to dominate the industry and the general lack of alignment these structures create, especially when compared to the fiduciary standard embraced by firms like Global RCG. 

Placing our client’s interest ahead of our own is the centerpiece of a long-term, outcomes-focused relationship which ultimately should be the goal of advisory professionals. At Global RCG, we aspire to deliver a new paradigm for client relations that will aim to operate under a fiduciary standard.  Until others embrace fiduciary-like standards of care, I fear that existential-level risks to the longevity of our industry are likely to persist, especially given the inherent difficulty any industry has in adequately policing itself.   

Which book is on your nightstand right now?
I am currently listening to The Bitcoin Standard by Saifedean Ammous. I must confess that I have fully converted to consuming all information, including books, on my iPad or Audible so the concept of a book on a nightstand seems so 80’s right now (how’s that for a feeble attempt to stay young!). 

At the moment and for the foreseeable future, I am an avid consumer of all things related to the transformational technology that is bitcoin. In similar ways to bitcoin and its tremendous properties as a store of value (i.e. wealth preservation), global mobility assets act as a powerful safeguard of wealth. Or, to paraphrase Yuri Lau, a digital marketing guru, avid cryptocurrency aficionado, and dear friend:

The perfect asset for sovereign individuals consists of the combination of physical global mobility (i.e. alternative passports and “golden visas”) with bitcoin, one of the most fungible and mobile stores of wealth ever created

This, however, is the subject of a future column; stay tuned!

How and why did you first get involved in the investment migration industry?
In late February 2014, I reconnected with Suresh Rajan, a former classmate from Harvard Business School for what turned out to be a life trajectory altering Sunday afternoon at his home in Westport, Connecticut. Suresh and I originally met in early September 1995, during the first social mixer held on the very first day we arrived on the storied manicured-lawn campus.  Within days, we agreed to launch the first of our two ventures together, the “all-important” first-year HBS study group. And over the months and years that followed, based partially on the bonds of affection and mutual trust which often occur between US immigrants, we forged a close friendship and remained in contact over the years.  

After a partnership-track career at McKinsey, Suresh returned to his entrepreneurial roots and founded his company, LCR Capital Partners in early 2012, primarily to pursue his entrepreneurial pursuits in the US franchise finance sector. Weeks away from accepting a $50 million check from a blue-chip PE firm to help fund his innovative franchise finance securitization business, Suresh decided to reject their offer in the summer of 2013 and pursue an entirely different source of financing: namely, EB-5 capital, instead. 

Fast forward to March 2014, when, after several weeks of discussion with my old b-school buddy and learning about his innovative business plan,  I left the VC-backed enterprise software company in New York City, where I served as CCO, and decided to capitalize the pre-seed stage startup as its first-ever outside investor, and joined Suresh at LCR instead where, literally, from the comfort of his basement, we set out on an ambitious plan to revolutionize the China-dominated EB-5 industry. 

To his everlasting credit, Suresh had the strategic vision and the commensurate degree of conviction required to marshall the human and financial capital necessary to launch an EB-5 Regional Center. I am positive that were it not for him, I would never have even heard of EB-5 and thus missed out on the calling of a lifetime. Moral of the story: go to school and always keep in touch! 

What was your proudest moment as a service provider?
Guided by our deeply-held conviction that promising yet underpenetrated markets around the world would adopt the EB-5 program, Suresh and I  decided to ignore mainland China, a country which at that time provided close to 90% of total global EB-5 investor demand. 

Instead, we bet on our ability to successfully enter promising markets long overlooked by LCR’s China-centric competitors, a highly prescient strategic decision that proved instrumental to the firm’s rapid growth trajectory.  Despite a nearly complete lack of product category awareness at that time, I spearheaded the firm’s new market entry efforts, first into Brazil starting in July 2014, followed by India in December 2015 and South Africa in October 2016. We secured product/market fit within 12 months of our arrival in each country. More importantly, we transformed countries that collectively represented less than five percent of global demand before LCR’s market entry efforts began into three of the top 10 EB-5 markets in the world [India, the new #1 market, Brazil (#5), and South Africa (#10)]. 

During my six-year tenure as the firm’s Chief Commercial Officer and Co-Founder, my team and I built one of the most innovative capital-raising platforms in the EB-5 industry, which has, over time, fundamentally disrupted both how the EB-5 industry raises capital as well as what countries it raises it from. By the time of my departure, LCR had successfully sponsored over $190 million of EB-5 capital, a track record placing our new firm in the top 1% of the industry’s highly competitive 800+ Regional Center industry.

Which investment migration market development has surprised you the most in the last year?
Sadly, without question, it has been the rapid collapse of the global EB-5 investor marketplace. A little less than two years ago, the EB-5 program enjoyed an enviable status on top of the world’s GMA leaderboard as the largest in the world, from a total capital investment perspective. Last year, however, the program welcomed just 114 new investors from January to September, a yearly run rate of fewer than 200 investors.

If you could go back 10 years in time, what business decision would you change? 
Get. It. In. Writing. 

What investment migration industry personality do you most admire?
Rohit Kapuria, Esq, an Indian American securities and immigration attorney based in the Chicago office of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, a prestigious law firm with a powerhouse EB-5 practice. Over the last five years, his heroic and tenacious work to develop the Indian and Gulf EB-5 markets proved instrumental in establishing an unparalleled track record by representing nearly 25% of all India-born EB-5 investors globally and being ranked among the Top 25 EB-5 Attorneys by EB-5 Investors Magazine for three years in a row by his industry peers. 

Rohit’s legal practice provides a uniquely valuable perspective to individual EB-5 clients due to its blend of corporate securities and EB-5 immigration expertise. In more ways than one, we’ve been “kindred spirits” dedicated to evangelizing the EB-5 program in areas of the world unnecessarily ignored by the EB-5 industry at large. 

If all goes according to plan, what will you be doing five years from now?  
Before I contemplate life in 2026, there is lots of exciting work to be done to help execute our firm’s multi-dimensional business plan, especially recruiting a small team of  “founding true believers” to help advance the strategic mission of the firm. Join us here in sunny Miami or sunnier Newport Beach and help us expand into highly promising markets in Silicon Valley, New York City, and Austin, Texas.

More From 10 on The Weekend

After raising $190m from investors migrating to the US, Rogelio Caceres is gearing up to meet the exploding demand in the opposite direction.

Pablo Ostrick says Jeffrey Henseler inspired him to join the IM industry, and most admires David Regueiro (but not because he is Spanish).

Argentinean native Andrés Gutierrez says that while his friends in LatAm are hoping to relocate to the US, Americans are hoping to get out.

 

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