How can I invest as a digital nomad?

digital Nomad
Digital Nomad

It is the same as every other ex-pat but with caveats.

From a very practical point of view, what you need to do is:
  • Fill out an online application form with a brokerage. That document will include questions on source of wealth, like where the money originates from.
  • Give proof of address (usually a bank or utility statement) and ID (ID card or passport) for anti-money laundering requirements
  • Fund the account

The issue is, many digital nomads don’t have things like a tax number overseas, which is asked for as part of the source of wealth requirements.

If you say you are living in Thailand or Malaysia, for example, they will ask for a tax identification number (TIN).

Most nomads don’t have this, and therefore make the mistake of focusing on investing back in their home country.

Main Issue …

The issue is, this could be a mistake. Many tax authorities, including in Canada, Australia, and beyond, are now cracking down on ex-pats and nomads. They are demanding that ex-pats “show intent” in some cases.

In practice, this means giving up ties to your home country, such as canceling the gym membership and other ties to your country of origin. We don’t know about the future, but this is likely to get worse.

After Covid-19, and with an aging population, governments need revenue. Those living overseas could become easy targets.

Investing as a Digital Nomad

Therefore, it is better to ensure you deal with a brokerage company that understands nomads and makes sure everything is legally correct and makes sense from a long-term investment point of view.

Beyond that, just like for regular ex-pats, it is important to have portability. You will most likely move around, so any investments need to move with you.

So, just as you should avoid investing in your home country, it isn’t a good idea to focus on investing locally.

Expat-focused portable accounts, typically held in a country that isn’t your current country of residency or citizenship, are usually much more convenient to move around as a nomad.

Beyond that I would make sure you get guidance or advice where appropriate, as most people end up with sub-optimal returns like this:

Many younger nomads have told me that they bought crypto high, and panic sold low, and have done the same with other assets.

It is important to have a good risk-adjusted asset strategy, and not just focus completely on getting the highest possible return, otherwise, hidden risks increase and you can end up losing.

Take too little risk and you will lose for sure, due to inflation. Take too much and you might lose as well.

There are sensible ways to reduce risks and ensure returns are likely to be good.

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