Earlier this year, an Australian meat marketing organisation made headlines around the world, after its spoof advertisement – about a campaign to bring all of Australia’s expats home so they need not be “meatless” on Australia Day – sparked controversy.
The video, entitled “You never lamb alone on Australia Day”, pictured, apparently struck a nerve among vegans in particular, according to published reports, although many of the 2 million people who saw it on YouTube within the first two weeks it was posted there are thought to have found it amusing.
What executives at Friends Provident International say they liked about the video was the fact that it addressed a topic close to their hearts, and one that isn’t often discussed in expat Australian circles – the return of expatriates to Oz.
The reason that executives from FPI have expatriate Aussies returning home on their minds is because the company launched a proposition for Australian customers and their advisers last year, to help them with their financial planning.
And whenever any adviser is advising expats of any nationality, they note, the possible return to the homeland is necessarily a key element of the conversation, as it normally dictates the way an individual’s finances are structured.
FPI’s development of an Aussie-expat-focussed offering followed the earlier, successful introduction of a similar package for non-resident Indians, who account for a large proportion of the expats in certain major markets, like the UAE.
At the time it conceived the idea to focus on Aussie expats, it had as its executive chairman a genuine Australian expat, John Van der Wielen, who some observers say may have helped to give the company rare insight into the issues expat Aussies face, as well as the scale of their ranks globally.
(Van der Wielen left FPI – which is based on the Isle of Man, and which is a division of UK-based Aviva – last year.)
Today, Philip Cernik, head of global expatriate propositions, says the company has a range of products for expat Aussies, but beyond that, it helps both the expats and their advisers with support materials, many of which may be accessed via a “knowledge” portal on the fpinternational.ae website.
For an expat Australian planning to return home, Cernik notes, there are myriad issues that need to be considered; for example, inheritance tax. “Australia doesn’t have IHT, but the UK does, and so any UK-sited assets are potentially liable to IHT on death,” he notes.
“Tax is complicated, particularly where more than one jurisdiction is involved, so specialist advice is essential. Another potential headache for the returning Aussie could be, for example, a property he bought in London, which ideally he’d want to sell before returning.”
Before launching its programme for Australian expats, FPI conducted research into the attitudes, behaviours and concerns of the world’s estimated 1 million expat Aussies.
It then prepared and added to its online Aussie expat portal the range of support materials mentioned earlier, which are divided up into such areas as retirement planning, the funding of children’s education, and, as mentioned above, the tax and financial planning implications of returning to Oz.
On one page, there are even some first-person observations by Van der Wielen himself, who, it’s noted, is still a non-executive director at FPI, and who brings to that role – and his writings – more than 25 years of experience as an expat financial services executive in the UK, Europe, Asia and Australasia.