The concept of the perpetual traveler is quite common among entrepreneurs, especially those operating businesses on a global scale. Businesspersons who have to deal with diverse taxation frameworks, as well as varying trade regulations, know that optimizing their financial setup is key for expanding, or even maintaining, their wealth. This is where the perpetual traveler theory, more commonly known as flag theory, becomes relevant.
Harry Shultz, an illustrious investment pundit, conceptualized flag theory in the 1960s as a solution for global investors who had to deal with exhausting taxation regimes.
Shultz’s thinking was that if a person spent his time through multiple nations, never settling down in one particular place, while finding better locations to situate their wealth, they would be able to achieve complete financial sovereignty. Shultz theorized that if a person was to obtain a second citizenship, establish their business in a country with favourable regulations, and take up residence in a tax haven, they would be truly free.
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Things have changed since the 1960s, and flag theory is no exception. The framework has adapted to the new world, one in which technology and financial tracking have made it nearly impossible to achieve financial freedom in one state. The current doctrine of flag theory states that one should:
- Get a second passport of a country that does not impose taxes on non-residents
- Setup their business HQ in a corporate tax haven
- Obtain a residency permit in a personal tax haven with a high living standard
- Spend their time and wealth in “playgrounds,” which are countries with low or no VAT
- Diversify your asset through nations with robust banking frameworks
Each of these points constitutes a flag, and planting more flags provides one with more freedom. However, the more flags you aim to plant, the higher the initial outlay. So perfecting the adoption of flag theory lies within striking that fine balance and creating a flag portfolio that provides the utmost freedom with the lowest number of flags.
There is no one magical package of flags or countries to invest in that can yield maximum benefit for everybody. The portfolio each person needs highly depends on their current situation, especially the passport they currently hold.
Flag theory is dynamic, and the passports and residency permit a person holds act as their initial starting point. Some could be one or two flags short, while others may need a complete overhaul.
Let’s take Yemenis and Americans as direct polar examples. Yemenis are in need of enhanced global mobility, greater ability to move their funds, and, most importantly, another place to reside due to political turbulence in their nation. Americans, on the other hand, need a better tax regime. You can’t fit both of them into the same category in terms of needs.
So to genuinely consider practicing flag theory, you first need to understand your goals and where you currently stand. Only then can you start planting relevant flags that take you on your path to prosperity and freedom.
But you may be asking, how does one go about planting flags to begin with?
Investment Migration Is The Master Key
To be able to adopt flag theory, you first need to find a route to set foot in the different nations you need in your portfolio. Doing that can prove challenging, problematic even, if not done correctly. But investment migration, or residency and citizenship by investment (RCBI), takes care of the matter for you.
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RCBI perfectly aligns with flag theory, and not by coincidence, as tax havens or countries that offer favourable business environments always look to bolster their economies by attracting unincumbered foreign capital. What better way to do that than bringing the investors themselves along with their money?
Caribbean tax havens such as Dominica or St. Kitts & Nevis already run popular citizenship by investment programs that do not require applicants to reside in the nations. They also do not impose any international tax on non-residents while providing investors with a robust offshore banking system, aligning perfectly with flag theory’s requirements.
Factor in that the investment outlay is similar to that of buying a new luxury car, and you can begin to see how they can be perfect additions to any flag portfolio.
Other countries, such as Portugal and Greece, offer residency by investment programs that are reasonably priced and have easy-to-meet requirements. Those looking to diversify their asset base in the EU or set up shop in one of the world’s leading markets can take advantage of these options.
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A multitude of nations all have similar options; Antigua & Barbuda, Grenada, St. Lucia, and Turkey all boast investment-based citizenship schemes. Cyprus, Malta, Spain, and Ireland all join their EU counterparts in having residency options for global investors.
So it becomes a matter of choosing wisely, and fitting those choices within your budget, and you can be reaping the rewards of flag theory, such as:
- Paying lower taxes, or none at all.
- Gaining enhanced global mobility.
- Paying less VAT on a higher standard of living.
- Creating a financial contingency through a diverse asset base (keeping your eggs in multiple baskets).
- Obtaining freedom from shackling trade regulations and enabling your business to thrive.
- Ensuring you are not at the mercy of one political regime or one economic structure.
- Having the flexibility to deal with economic turbulence.
Flag theory makes its practitioner more proactive, prepared, and able to deal with instability or uncertainty. This ability to deal with the unknown is especially essential in regions with fluctuating stability, such as the MENA region.
Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, Libya, and to some extent, the recent issues in Lebanon all highlight the turbulent ecosystem in the region, which is why its inhabitants are becoming more familiarized with flag theory and investment migration.
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The need has always been present, if unknown, as all humans, regardless of their nationalities, can improve their current lives and obtain a better level of personal and financial freedom; the trick is getting it right.
That is why we at Savory & Partners scrutinize every detail of our clientele’s cases to provide them with the optimal solution for their needs. We also believe that efficiency is key; if a client’s goals are met with one flag, then that is what we will advise them to do so they do not squander money on non-effective solutions.
To know more about flag theory, which flags are right for you, and how you get started, contact us today to book a free, comprehensive consultation with one of our seasoned investment immigration consultants.
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