Robert C. Beckman is cited as a "legend of the stock market". An American economist and financial advisor, he has been living in Monaco for eight years now. His ninth book, on investing in real estate, has just been published, and it will doubtless be as successful as his others, including "The Downwave", "Into The Upwave", "Supertiming", "Powertiming" and his best seller, "Crashes". Beckman's radio programmes, both on LBC in London, and Riviera Radio in Monaco, have had a massive following for many years.
Monaco Actualité: Why are you based here, as opposed to New York, London, or
Robert Beckman: I had been looking for more tax efficient area to base my activities since about 1975, and what I recognised was that any tax efficient area that I found, I would have to live in. I investigated various places before coming upon Monaco... and that was eight years ago. I've always held the philosophy that it makes very little sense to accumulate wealth if you can't enjoy it. None of the places that I've seen other than Monaco, that lend themselves to tax efficiency, would I be able to live the type of lifestyle that I'd like to live. I would certainly live in Monaco regardless of any tax advantages I might have.
Monaco Actualité: Do you have all of your wealth placed here?
Robert Beckman: Well that's a rather personal question and perhaps not relevant, but I think I'll answer it just the same. A long time ago, I was told that the most efficient way for an individual to handle his affairs was to work one place, keep his money in a second place and live in a third place. I live in Monaco. I don't work here, my money is placed elsewhere, but managed from here. What I do find about living in Monaco is that there's a great deal of protection that I have thanks to the privacy of various different banking sources in Monaco, that I wouldn't have elsewhere which enables me to carry out my affairs efficiently. The financial services that Monaco has to offer me are absolutely superb. I know if I were banking directly in Switzerland rather than banking here, the charges I would have would be absolutely enormous. I use Swiss facilities via Monaco, and the charges are in accordance with normal French or British banking charges. There are other financial services that Monaco has to offer that are virtually unique to Monaco. Perhaps some are available in other countries, but those countries would be nowhere near as pleasant to live in as Monaco.
Monaco Actualité: Being an American, what are the advantages of living here?
Robert Beckman: As you're probably aware, the first $70,000 of income is tax free if you're living outside the United States. Also, American tax laws are very liberal with regard to taxation on benefits and kind. Tax efficiency is a subject in itself. I certainly would never ever encourage tax evasion or anything remotely that would break the law. However, by living in a place such as Monaco that has good communications and good financial services, as well as very competent lawyers and accountants, one can build a tax efficient platform that can mitigate a lot of the problems that appear to be on the surface. The talent and ability are here to enable one to carry-out a tax efficient life. This is what Monaco has that other tax efficient areas do not have.
Monaco Actualité: How does one choose the right financial institution for one's
Robert Beckman: There are good and bad financial institutions everywhere in the world. You have to be relatively financially sophisticated to start with to be able to determine which are the good ones and which are the bad ones. The fact that the good ones are here is a plus, but it's up to the individual himself to decide which of the institutions available can meet his or her needs, because everyone has particularities that are unique to themselves. There isn't any one investment or tax position that could serve all people adequately. Each individual has his own personal problems, but at least what we do have in Monaco is the people who are able to solve them. it's a matter of digging them out. I've always believed in the philosophy that the biggest is usually the best, and I confine most of my activities only to the large, well known institutions that operate in Monaco, and we do have some very large, internationally known accounting firms, stockbrokers and banks, operating in Monaco.
Monaco Actualité: How sophisticated is the average investor based here?
Robert Beckman: The average level of sophistication in Monaco and on the Côte d'Azur generally is probably the highest in the world. I spent 12 years on LBC radio while I was in London doing financial phone-ins. When I compare the level of sophistication of the questions that I had while I was doing my Riviera Radio phone-ins, it was like night and day. The people here who have accumulated wealth are far more intelligent than the average person in a big city, and have much more business acumen. This is good for me because there were so many cases in the past where nobody knew what I was talking about. Here, most people know what I'm talking about most of the time.
Monaco Actualité: What should investors be careful of here?
Robert Beckman: Unfortunately, legislation on financial advertising is not as tight as it could be, and it's certainly not as tight as in a country like England or the United States, or even Germany. So there are some unscrupulous individuals who make misleading promises, or who advertise totally unrealistic rates of return, to trap the unwary investor. This is probably one of the few pitfalls an investor has down here. So I would recommend that people be very wary of unrealistic promises. The risk-free rate of return is the rate of return that you get in a bank account. Anyone who offers you more than this is also offering you risk. The higher the rate of return, the greater the degree of risk. This is a formula which is irrefutable, and that every investor should be aware of at all times. The major institutions who operate in Monaco, I have never found in any way whatsoever to be guilty of "guilding the lilly" or presenting investment propositions in a misleading manner at all. It's some of the "fly by night" organisations who come to the Côte d'Azur, and don't last very long, who are really guilty. Again, we get back to the philosophy that the biggest are usually the best.
Monaco Actualité: How would you summarise Monaco?
Robert Beckman: For me personally, Monaco is the most important financial centre in the world. I wouldn't consider living anywhere else... I wouldn't consider doing business anywhere else. It has all the facilities that I could possibly want, and there are more coming all the time. Over the past two years, with the various investment forums that the government has been assisting in promoting, and the manner in which the government has been presenting Monaco as a financial centre, this is a tremendous effort. It's paying dividends not only for Monaco, but for the people who live here and the people who plan to come here. I think this is only the beginning and eventually, I can see Monaco being the world's most important financial centre for a number of reasons, including location, proximity to other financial centres, legislation, it's role as a non-EC country... Monaco has a terrific future as a financial centre.
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