Press Report House: Valerio Partners specialise in European residency-by-investment programmes specifically?
Kurran Sachdeva: We are independent consultants that specialise in immigration. Our role is twofold. We manage the process for the client end-to-end, making sure it is smooth, efficient and the client has a certain level of comfortability. Secondly, we also talk through the investment options with the client- typically direct real estate or the investment fund route. Our backgrounds, mine specifically being from Schroders Investment management enables me to speak to clients about the investment options on a more technical level. We also speak through more qualitative aspects such as the management team and their commitment to Portugal, because ultimately this is a long-term investment.
We also get the clients introduced to the right lawyer for them, as you know, this process is a very personal thing, so it is important for the client to feel comfortable. We then speak to investment funds and also developers on the direct real estate side.
We work as the client's right-hand man and that is something that clients do appreciate. From an expertise perspective, we don't operate in the same way our competitors do in this market. We talk through both the Golden Visa programme and the investment funds, which I think really sets us apart in the market, i.e. having that technical knowledge and showing clients what they should be looking out for based on their own risk/return profile. We really make it a client-centric process and we really understand what the client is looking for.
PRH: Valerio Partners advise on four countries, right, Malta, Cyprus, Portugal and the UK. How does Portugal stand out?
KS: 98 percent of our business is to Portugal. I think the programme in Portugal itself, is appreciated thanks to its flexibility. Some of investment funds are now very attractive as a standalone pure investment- if you add a residency visa and then ultimately a passport you can see it can be a no-brainer. I would say that it is the quality of the investment options in Portugal that help it really stand out versus other EU programmes. I think that the SEF and the Portuguese government have done a great job of attracting investors into Portugal.
The Portuguese passport is also very strong. There are some great tax benefits and there are really interesting things going on in Portugal, aside from the Golden Visa, from a fundamental perspective. They have various programmes and various movements to Portugal. Since the pandemic, people are looking for a more balanced lifestyle. Portugal does cater to all of those needs.
PRH: Where are clients from, geographically speaking?
KS: Luckily, we have a global client base, which is great because we are tapping into various markets and mitigating risk. If we look at the markets in general, we have big markets in the U.K. now, given Brexit, and the US. We also have clients from from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, India, South Africa and even South America; Peru, in Brazil and Chile.
Moving forward, I anticipate that the biggest client base will be from the US, from the UK, and also depending on the investment options, from countries like India and the economies that are ballooning in wealth.
Portugal is trying to attract people of all different demographics, not just the wealthy who can afford to invest in Portugal’s real estate or the funds. Portugal also has some very attractive entrepreneurship and retirement visas. There are attractive options for companies and individuals. I think that you get a nice balance of people moving, whether it be your Non-Habitual Residents from around Europe, from the U.K., wanting a different lifestyle from the U.S. Then there are the digital nomads, people that look for a place for better taxation, or benefits of starting a company in cryptocurrency. There is a myriad of reasons why Portugal is so attractive, and it doesn’t look like those fundamentals are going away. It's very rare in one of Europe’s top economies to have those fundamentals and I think that will play to Portugal’s favour going forward.
PRH: As of January 1st 2022, one will no longer be able to invest in property for residential purposes in some parts of Portugal…
KS: High density areas - so you are talking Lisbon, Greater Lisbon, Porto, parts of the Algarve and a few other areas. That tells me that the Portuguese government is trying to relocate wealth to less dense areas. You can still invest in commercial real estate in those high dense areas, but there will be a transition of investment to areas like Evora, Alcacer do Sal, Sagres etc. which fall within that bracket.
On the fund route, obviously, the jump is EUR 350k to EUR 500k. I think for places like the U.K., places like the US, that jump is not as big as in other other economies. I also think that the fund market itself is maturing very nicely and there are some really great opportunities. As mentioned before, Valerio Partners look at the investment funds specifically as an investment first and foremost with Golden Visa as an added benefit. We don't look at it purely as a mechanism to a residency permit, which our clients appreciate. The vast majority of my clients are sophisticated investors in their own right and want to delve into the technicalities.
PRH: what would you suggest in terms of in Portugal, where to invest if you can give any tidbits out for free, but where to invest, with whom to invest, how to invest?
KS: When I speak to clients initially, the first thing that we discuss their risk/reward profile and what they are looking to get out of their investment. The overwhelming majority of clients are investing in Portugal for the first time. Thus, they have a focus on capital preservation as a top priority. In these cases, what I would always advocate is the need for a balanced portfolio. By this, I mean diversification, where risk is not attached to a single developer or development, diversification also comes from asset class, acquisition strategy, geography, currency... So ultimately, a balanced portfolio is a must. If you look at funds like the EQTY fund or the CGA fund. These are funds which do allocate across various sectors and that is important in terms of mitigating risk moving forwards. The quality of funds in Portugal is growing as the market has matured, with management teams that have local and international experience and have worked in financial services for many years, that is only good for investment going into Portugal moving forward.
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