Ahead of the 2016 Citizenship by Investment & International Residence Summit Europe in Geneva, we caught up with Ted Baumann of the Sovereign Society to discuss challenges, goals and his upcoming presentation.
Tell us about something innovative your company has done recently?
We launched a product called the “Plan B Club” that provides step-by-step guidance to people waiting to emigrate from the U.S. It’s written by an expat (me!). It’s proved incredibly popular and I regularly hear from people who have moved out of the U.S. successfully using it as a blueprint.
What do you feel are the main challenges facing the private client industry at the moment, and how will you deal with them?
Speaking from a U.S. perspective, the main issue is the broadening of the market for emigration support services to include many people who had never thought about it previously and who are starting from scratch, as it were. That includes people with lower net worth who have never been considered part of this market. The Plan B Club is designed to address the needs of those folks specifically. We all need to be thinking about them, especially as the U.S. declines.
What are the new opportunities for the sector?
Well, again from the U.S. perspective, it’s the sudden realization that a second passport isn’t just for HNW individuals. We have to find a way to address their needs too. That may involve support for acquisition of residence as an interim step to acquiring a second passport.
What trends are you following?
I keep a close eye on the Caribbean citizenship programs since they are the natural trend for our market, but I also pay attention to countries like Panama, Colombia and Uruguay that offer rapid residence and citizenship. I also follow “sanctuary cities” that are destinations for HNW Chinese, Russians etc. My readers look at this issue also as an opportunity for investment; say by purchasing real estate in in-demand cities around the world.
What’s one of your goals for the next year and how do you expect to achieve it?
I plan to go on a motorcycle tour around the Zürichsee after the conference in June. A Swiss friend of mine is a Harley-Davidson collector and is loaning me one for the week.
What do you most like about your job and what do you feel is most worthwhile?
I’d say first off, it’s the opportunity to put into practise my ideals about personal freedom and a global approach to life. I came into this work from the non-profit sector, which makes me a bit unusual, but even then my work was oriented towards helping people escape government domination of their lives. And of course I love to travel – almost 80 countries and counting.
What is the one thing you can’t live without?
My electric guitars. And decent coffee.
You will be speaking at the Citizenship by Investment & International Residence Summit in June. What will be your chosen topic and what are the main issues in this area?
I will be talking about the conference topic from the perspective of the rapidly changing U.S. market, as I explained above. The main issues are finding ways to develop products for the growing numbers of middle-class people who are suddenly realizing that they also need a second residence or passport. This applies to Europe and Canada as well, I think, even Australia. I’ve spent the last three years interacting with such people so I plan to share some of the lessons I’ve learnt.