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What are Offshore Mutual Funds?

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  • Written By: Charity Delich
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2016
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Offshore mutual funds are mutual funds that are based in and managed from jurisdictions outside of the investor's home country. These types of investments can offer investors access to international markets and major exchanges. In order to qualify as an offshore fund, a mutual fund must be incorporated in a foreign location. The fund must also be intended to be used by investors who are not residents of the fund’s jurisdiction.

Aside from their location requirements, offshore mutual funds generally operate like traditional mutual funds. Investors with similar investment interests combine their resources in order to form the fund’s investment capital. The fund’s manager then invests the capital in stocks, bonds, or other investments that are consistent with the fund’s objectives. As with traditional mutual funds, investors participating in offshore mutual funds will realize gains or losses in proportion to the capital they initially invested.

While several potential benefits to investing overseas exist, tax breaks are frequently one of the most important advantages for investors. Offshore mutual funds are usually established in countries that provide significant tax benefits to foreign investors. As a result, these investors are often able to reduce or even eliminate the amount of taxes they pay. Some popular countries for offshore investments include the Isle of Man, the Bahamas, Bermuda, and the Cayman Islands.

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Another key advantage associated with offshore mutual funds is that they are often set up in countries with few investment regulations, making it less expensive to operate and manage the fund. Some foreign countries have also enacted strict regulations around confidentiality. This can offer financial and legal benefits for high-profile investors wishing to ensure the confidentiality of their investments.

Disadvantages associated with investing in offshore mutual funds can exist, and investors should educate themselves prior to parting with their investment capital. As with traditional mutual funds, a fund manager controls the make-up of the fund’s portfolio, and individuals do not have the ability to take a hands-on investment approach. A home country may also place investment restrictions on its residents, making it essential for an investor to review his or her home country’s requirements prior to becoming part of an offshore fund.

Although taxes are often lower in the countries popular with offshore mutual funds, this is not always the case. Prospective investors should take care to thoroughly research any tax implications associated with their home countries. Some countries have enacted regulations that require their citizens and residents to pay taxes on all of their income, regardless of whether the income was generated in a foreign jurisdiction.

When investing overseas, investors should generally select well-known funds that have reputations for being fiscally solid and legal in their dealings. While foreign countries with lenient tax and investment laws may present some advantages, an investor should do his homework before parting with his capital. If the fund is located in a country that has enacted overly-lenient investment regulations, the investor may be more likely to be swindled. Countries that are recognized financial centers usually present the best places for offshore investments.

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