How South African parents are preparing for international opportunities

Many South African parents are looking beyond domestic borders to ensure brighter futures for their children. Several are turning to international education, travel and second homes to preserve and expand their wealth while enhancing opportunities.

To shed light on this evolving trend and offer insights into strategic financial planning, Rex Cowley, director and co-founder of Overseas Trust & Pension – a specialist in international pensions, fiduciary services and wealth management – shares his expertise:

International education and travel offer youth invaluable opportunities to gain a global perspective, develop intercultural skills and build diverse networks. Exposure to different cultures and educational systems enhances adaptability, critical thinking and communication skills – attributes crucial in today’s interconnected world. Moreover, such experiences open doors to prestigious universities and global career opportunities.

This trend reflects the aspirations of South African families, who aim for expanded educational horizons, stronger familial bonds and enhanced financial security for their children.

Key motivations driving South African parents to explore international opportunities include pursuing high-quality education. Many perceive international universities as offering superior academic experiences, invaluable global networks and diverse cultural immersion, particularly institutions in the United Kingdom, United States and other highly esteemed countries, which further reinforce this perspective.

The current digital age has paved the way for access to international education. Online courses supplemented by short-term residencies offer cost-effective alternatives to full-time overseas study. However, the desire for immersive international experiences highlights the need for thorough financial planning.

Financial considerations and strategic planning

Parents must navigate numerous financial considerations when planning for their children’s education abroad. International education can be prohibitively expensive, particularly for international students.

At a recent financial planning conference focused on retirement, Cowley stated that various investment strategies were explored. One notable example involved regular savings of R150 000 invested per annum from 2009 to 2024. The analysis examined how this amount, if invested simultaneously in the JSE and the S&P 500, would perform over time.

For instance, if someone started saving R150 000 in 2009, their investment could grow to R11 941 074.83 by 2024 if invested in the S&P 500. This growth could enable significant financial goals, such as educating a child overseas or purchasing property for student accommodation. Studying in the UK, for example, can exceed £35 000 (R770 000) annually, covering tuition, accommodation and living expenses. Hence, early and strategic financial planning is imperative to manage these costs effectively and ensure a seamless transition for their children.

A robust strategy involves saving anticipated expenses in the currency to mitigate currency fluctuation risks. Financial advisers are instrumental in recommending suitable investment options.

Given the relatively short investment horizon – from high school to university – a balanced approach should be prioritised, incorporating inflation-linked investments and growth assets. This strategy ensures robust growth while minimising the risk of significant value fluctuations, providing parents with financial security.

Long-term family planning beyond education

Planning extends beyond education to long-term benefits such as acquiring a second home in the destination country. This serves dual purposes, providing accommodation during the study period and potentially serving as a retirement or vacation home for parents. Cities like Manchester, London and Edinburgh are popular for their suitability as student accommodations and future family homes, offering parents security and stability.

Furthermore, many parents contemplate relocating closer to their grandchildren as their children settle abroad. Depending on feasibility and personal circumstances, this may involve purchasing a second home or permanent immigration.

The role of financial advisers

Financial planners and wealth management experts guide parents through the intricate landscape of preparing for their children’s international pursuits. Cowley emphasises several key areas to consider: “They should first help clients understand the financial implications of international education, covering tuition, living expenses and potential travel costs. Early and strategic savings are crucial, highlighting the importance of saving early and using suitable currencies to mitigate currency risk mismatches.”

He adds: “Advising on an investment strategy is pivotal; recommending a balanced approach ensures steady growth while protecting against significant value fluctuations over the savings period. Furthermore, long-term planning discussions should extend beyond education to encompass broader implications such as acquiring property abroad and preparing for eventual family reunification.”

An effective investment strategy is essential for achieving a successful future, enabling families to navigate the complexities of international education planning with confidence and foresight.

Financial advisers play a pivotal role in guiding families through this intricate landscape, ensuring they make informed decisions that benefit their children for years to come. With careful planning and strategic financial management, South African families can envision a brighter, more globally connected future for their children.

Cowley also states that using foreign products to provide for education or post-educational needs can enhance the likelihood of achieving the desired outcome. For example, international preservation funds provide asset protection, a degree of tax efficiency and access to funds when needed.

Image credit: Freepik

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