3 easy ways you can invest offshore

You can diversify your investment strategy by investing some of your money outside the country. This way you’re diversifying your risk while benefiting from a broader variety of high-growth sectors that are not available locally.

Prime examples include the likes of SpaceX, Tesla, Amazon, Alphabet and Meta (the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp). These brands are examples of leading companies in the technology industry, which some offshore vehicles consider good long-term investments for those with a higher risk appetite.

So, how can you participate in the growth story of offshore sectors if they’re not listed on the local stock exchange?

Invest easily in rands

You can avoid complex offshore arrangements and exchange controls by using feeder funds or offshore-focused funds that everyday investors can access easily. As a Nedbank client, you have a variety of offshore funds to choose from that differ in their risk level,  focus and purpose.

For example, you can invest in a simple unit trust that gives you access to offshore shares. And you can do so for as little as R500 a month without having to bother with exchange controls. 

The Core Global Feeder Fund invests in sectors like Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Tesla, Alphabet, Meta, Nvidia and JP Morgan Chase. The fund does the ‘heavy lifting’ for you by taking the money out of the country to buy these investments, and when you need the money, bringing it back to South Africa, giving you easy access in rands without the hassle.

Or you can use a retirement annuity that offers you a tax deduction on your contributions and tax-free growth if the fund complies with local regulations to protect investors. While funds that comply with these regulations can have only limited offshore exposure (up to 30%), there are still ways to capitalise on global growth.

The Nedgroup Investments Core Accelerated Fund, for example, holds stakes in South African companies with a global presence and revenues. This means local investors benefit indirectly from the global growth story. This fund holds stalwarts of the local economy like Prosus, Naspers, MTN, Anglo American and Sasol that have expanded globally.

Offshore investments can be complex, which is why it’s best to rely on an adviser who can help you on your journey

A tax-free savings account, which in this case is invested in unit trust funds and is not only a savings account, is another popular vehicle. The majority of our unit trusts, including funds with up to 100% offshore exposure, can be held in a tax-free savings account that is exempt from the usual investment taxes, including capital gains and dividends tax. These savings can be quite handy over the long run if you consider that you pay 20% tax on any dividends that you earn, capital gains at up to 18% tax and income taxed at your personal tax rate.

Invest offshore directly

A more complicated way to invest offshore is to exchange your rands for a foreign currency, for example US dollars, euros or British pounds, which you then invest into shares or a fund located overseas. South African taxpayers may transfer up to R1 million a year offshore without needing further approval from the South African Reserve Bank (SARB).

This is known as your ‘single discretionary allowance’, and even though it’s a fairly generous sum, it comes with lots of admin every time. That is why direct offshore investing is better for bigger, lump sum investments instead of regular, smaller contributions.

For each offshore transfer you need to tell both SARB and the South African Revenue Service (SARS) how much money you’re moving overseas and why. And after that, SARS will be very interested in knowing what profits you make on your investments, as a portion of that has to come to them. Depending where you’ve invested, you might also face local taxes there. A potential solution to simplify your tax reporting and in some cases reduce the tax payable, is to use an offshore investment vehicle like an endowment.

Investing or opening a new investment account is as easy as opening the Nedbank Money app

As you can see, offshore investments can be complex, which is why it’s best to rely on an adviser who can help you on your journey. But a good starting point is to open an offshore bank account to simplify moving money to and from South Africa. If you’re a seasoned investor and comfortable with the ins and outs of fund management, including fees and tax obligations, then this might be the path you want to take. You can speak to 1 of our investments advisers to find a solution that works for you.

Invest internationally today

Before you jump straight in, we suggest you speak to a qualified financial adviser who can guide you on the best plan of action. Investing in shares can be risky, especially if you panic easily and sell whenever the market dips. All markets move up and down in the short term, but over periods of 5 years and longer, the trend is mostly for prices to increase. So, choose carefully and be clear about your goals and when you want to achieve them.

Planning and choosing the best option for your needs is the most difficult part. Investing or opening a new investment account is as easy as opening the Nedbank Money app. Simply tap on the Savings tab to find the funds that you want to invest in.