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Everything posted by Starshollow

  1. Planning for retirement

    as always, very wise words from John Gunn! The correct process for investment advice and pension planning always has to be to check that the main risks in life a properly covered by those insurances that are truly important. Once that is verified or taken care off, the actual investment advice process (including in many cases the setting up of dedicated pension plans) can start for real. Cheerio  
  2. Planning for retirement

    saving and simply investing is always a good start. However, a pension assurance offers life-long payouts regardless of how long you'll live whereas accumulated capital will only reach as long as your pay-out plan allows.  That is why setting up some pension plan can make a lot of sense - you'll protect yourself against the "risk" of longevity,  strange as it may sound to consider this a "risk".   As a self-employed you don't have many options to invest into the German public pension system (and many would doubt the sense of doing so probably). Which leaves you with two main options: 1 ) a RÜRUP pension plan that comes with some tax benefits on one hand but also works exactly like a public pension in so far that you cannot take out the capital again and also can't cash in when you reach retirement... you'll receive a monthly pension for the rest of your life instead. 2 ) or a private pension plan with no tax benefits, but full flexibility later with regards to accessing the invested capital   It might make sense to seek professional advice for your future investment and pension planning. Several advisors specialized in catering to Expats advertise here on Toytown, many of them have a track record that you can check and then select one.   Cheerio  
  3. Bavaria and the real estate bubble

    well, in the south of Munich (like Oberhaching, for instance - which is not even among the top-locations), prices for houses have doubled on average since 2012. I do believe that this is not a healthy development and I also believe that sometime during the next 5-10 years there will be a period of time when prices for real-estate will take a serious nosedive ...for a while. However, since the demographics show that the larger Munich area is going to grow by another 10% thru migration from other areas of Bavaria/Germany/therestofthefuckingworld and since Munich does not allow high-rising buildings much and the counties around Munich do not want to free too much land for building new houses and all, the demand will continue to outpace what is offered on the market and hence prices will consequently continue to grow in a long-term trend.  IMO.   Cheerio  
  4. Moving from private to public health insurance

      as John Gunn correctly stated, around 260 EUR per month is the highest you can pay into a company pension scheme (usually it will be rather a Direktversicherung bAV than an Unterstützungskasse, though, but that is another story entirely) in order to reduce your gross salary for calculating the thresholds for public health insurance etc. Having said that: this only applies anyway if your gross salary is below 80.400 EUR per year (so-called Beitragsbemessunggrenze) to begin with.   Reduction of gross salary for some time CAN be an option, however, it has to be done well regarding the paperwork involved on the work contract side/HR. For instance should it not list a predetermined end of the reduction before 12 months are thru, otherwise it will be considered as illegal "planning" around the social welfare laws. You can then still change back to full employment after just a month, of course, and still, continue to stay in public health insurance after that as a voluntary member. But that won't work if and when the changes in the work contract make clear that the reduction was just for a short period of time from the beginning. I would recommend in such cases to get advice from a qualified expert (like a specialized Versicherungsberater) to check your situation and prepare the relevant paperwork bullet-proof. Costs a fee but is definitely worth it...    Cheerio  
  5. Public vs. private health insurance

    The mere fact that it is a topic that comes up again and again in politics in parliament and government in Germany that privately insured patients receive preferential access to specialist and in hospitals is proof enough that this kind of problem or two-tier-system actually exists in Germany. On the other hand, as many have pointed out above, being publicly insured in Germany is not exactly making you a second or third-class patient. The German health system is quite good and no-one will be left behind or not treated well because he or she is with public health insurance. 80-90 % of people in Germany are in public health insurance anyway.   There are a couple of areas of coverage where most (but not all, especially not the very cheap private plans) private health insurances offer superior coverage. Starting with coverage when travelling outside the EU, followed especially by dental coverage in the line of major dental work and dental replacements (where public coverage has deteriorated to become a sad joke at best) and also with the free choice of hospitals etc. But all of the above can be also obtained as a private add-on, i.e. supplementary coverage for those who either can't get out of public insurance (due to occupation/income or health conditions) or where it simply does not make sense at all to switch to private fully comprehensive health insurance.    In the end, private health insurance should not be selected and obtained to "save money". That is usually a plan that won't really work out well in the long run (of course, for those who definitely will only stay for a few years in Germany, these savings can make a lot of sense, too).   A really good and dedicated broker like John Gunn and us will always look at the full situation of a client, at the short and long-term perspective and fully disclose the pros and cons of both sides of the equations before offering a recommendation. Just like John, we are signing up a lot of clients to public health insurance every year because it is the best solution for them. Those we recommend to take on private health insurance are the same, it is the best solution for them based on their preferences, wishes and goals.    The way this intermediary is trying to "sell" you into private health insurance does not really sound like a truly unbiased advisor who has your best interest in mind. Therefore some caution may be recommended towards this kind of advice.   Cheerio  
  6. Moving from private to public health insurance

    I am a bit puzzled..because according to the website this particular health insurance plans is(more or less) exclusively reserved for people working at  Max-Planck-Institutes... are you employed there at the end?   Cheerio  
  7. that would depend on what health insurance in Germany you have?   Cheerio
  8. just a quick reply, since I amount of country on holidays right now: they'll need a German tax accountant to do the payroll services for them. That is fairly easy and common... try for instance martin Gundermann from Intertax who advertises here on Toytown (or Thomas Zitzelsberger from Exptattax, though I am not entirely certain if he does offer these kinds of services still for US. based employers or not anymore).   Cheerio
  9. Anlageberater forged our signatures

    that would depend on the text of the Vollmacht/authorization. Without knowing it, I can't answer it, I am afraid. Our own broker authorization document would allow exactly that (obviously based on the consent/order by the client which we would always require to be in writing - at least n email - to be absolutely clear about it and to avoid misunderstanding/misinterpretations later)    Cheerio
  10. Buying property as an investment

    Fully concur... would also assume that the property is overpriced without even looking at any comparing websites. Because that is the typical mode of operation with these scams.   Cheerio  
  11. Buying property as an investment

    sounds like an absolute scam - run from it and run fast. There are so many things in there that don't make sense. Unfortunately, I am on holidays and can't really dive deep into this, but my second best recommendation (after me checking this and answering you being THE BEST :-) ) would be to take this to your next Verbraucherzentral and have them look over it. I am sure they can find tons of loopholes and false information. Particularly the refinancing looks extremely dodgy and is the part where the Finanzberater (what is his real license, btw? Did you check if he is licensed as insurance intermediary (34D) or investment advisor (34F) or else?)  will make tons of money while the risk that this goes lopsided is all yours.    You are right, it sounds too good to be true and definitely is.  Cheerio  
  12.   Nearly there --- but not there enough to be able to report something solid. Sorry. My best guess is that in late September/early October can go public with our solution for investment portfolios <100.000 EUR for US nationals living in Germany. For those with investment capital > 100.000 we already have, as mentioned before, a perfectly working solution.   Cheerio  
  13. Pension plan suggestion for non-EU freelancer

    Hi there - if you use the search function, you'll find that this issue has been discussed numerous times already here on Toytown The answer is always the same: 1) you can't back-pay 60 months of contributions into public pension anyway. So forget about that. 2) what you can do instead is set up a subsidiary private pension plan into which start paying now (no back-payments required, either) and into which you have, as per contract, to pay in a certain amount of capital until you reach pension age of 67. What amount needs to be paid in and what kind of private insurance is applicable depends on where you life and what local authority is responsible for you. .If your location according to your ID is correct and you are in Berlin and will apply there, it is well-know what is required and straight-forward.    just contact one of the specialized and experienced financial advisors active here on this forum and he or she can work out the correct solution for you. How much you'll have to pay monthly into this pension plan is obviously a function of your age (i.e. how many years are left til age 67) and the money that needs to be guaranteed to have accrued per plan by then. A small warning: there have been cases in the past where people just set up this kind of pension plan and stopped paying into it when they had the permanent residence permit in their hands. This will get reported to the immigration offices and can lead to rather unpleasant consequences. So, in consequence, you should only commit to that if you can really sustain it.   Cheerio  
  14. Getting a mortgage in Germany

    sadly enough, neither what the mortgage broker says nor what the banks said is entirely accurate. What is correct is this: if you indeed a "Kreditanfrage" with any bank, just for getting info, this WILL be reported to SCHUFA and for some reasons (because you do not actually GET the credit/mortgage in the end), it lowers your SCHUFA score slightly. Do that several times and yes, your SCHUFA score will be hit markedly and that is not in your best interest. However, everyone doing mortgages knows that there is a very simply way around and that is a so-called "Konditionenanfrage", which is a special kind of getting quotes from banks which are NOT to be reported to the SCHUFA and thus have no influence on your SCHUFA score. Not knowing that is a serious mistake and lack of professionality IMO. It is also not true that bank do not care about your SCHUFA score. If it gets less than optimal, there will be consquences in your bargaining power when it comes to getting the best interest rate etc. Because SCHUFA scoring is what they need for feeding their computers for risk calculation (and refinancing). Hence, while you won't be just rejected a mortgage because you asked a couple of other banks for mortgage quotes without taking one from them, you would see that the next quotes you'll receive will start to become slightly less attractive or that more and more collateral/downpayment would be required from you. Get yourself a REAL mortgage broker who knows his or her business. Then you won't have those issues. Cheerio  
  15. Mutual Fund Management Expats

      while we have been advising all Expats in insurance and investment issues since 2006, we have worked out a special investment strategy for US-Expats since summer 2017 when it was clear that starting January 2018 the taxation in Germany of foreign investment funds (i.e., for instance, US-domiciled funds) became so much easier and is now the same as for investment funds from Germany, Ireland or Luxemburg.  in consequence, since then we can advise US-nationals with US-domiciled investment funds which is the only thing that makes really sense for them. And there are still a few banks/plattforms available in the US that are content to deal with people who do not have a residence in the US anymore.    If you look at our website, you'll notice that we strongly believe in passive investment funds (ETFs etc). If you like our basic investment philosophy etc, lets have a chat soon to discuss what you already have, what you want to achieve and then we can see if we'd be a good match for you...   Cheerio  
  16. Interesting complaint blog about TCTMNBN

    Update: DeVere Germany is apparently - looking at what clients show me as communication with some local "advisors" and their LinkedIn profiles - still running offices in Frankfurt and Munich.   Please be advised: DeVere Germany currently has not a single license in Germany anymore for either financial advice (investment advice) nor insurance advice (to which pension plans would count under German legal definition).  So, anyone approaching you - and also remember that cold-calling is illegal in Germany, no exceptions - is not licensed in Germany and if you have complaints or problems later, no German authority will be able to support you, neither the Ombudsman nor the IHK Frankfurt (regulatory body for insurance advice) or BaFin (regulatory authority in Germany for investments)   Apparently - from what I have seen in one communication to a client of DeVere in Germany - DeVere advisors/salesmen claim to act in Germany under the freedom-of-services act granted by the European Union from DeVere Spain.   Freedom-of-services, however, allows for cross-border activities only. I.e. advisors in Spain may if the client is willing to deal with Spanish consumer protection laws and all, i.e. willing to move outside German consumer protection, advise from Spain into Germany. And on some occasions even travel for a meeting to Germany. But running a legal entity like DeVere Germany GmbH is NOT covered by the Freedom-of-services. this would require a "Freedom of Establishment" from Spain into Germany, however, the entity in Germany would then, of course, become liable for regulation here in Germany if permanently established.  According to the imprint on DeVere Spain website, they only have a license as insurance broker (if I understand this correctly) with cross-border allowances from Spain but definitely not Freedom of Establishment.    If you are being approached directly by Devere Germany: 1. let them know that cold-calling is illegal, that you will be taking note of the day and time and name of the caller so that other licensed parties (like me) can issue a cease&desist order against them for violating German consumer protection laws (that should take you off their list for good. 2. if you have already started dealing with them: demand proof of license/registration and double-check this with the local IHK (Frankfurt or Munich) or BaFin. You will quickly learn that no such license exists which means you have no recourse in cases of troubles and also no professional indemnity insurance can be claimed against in case you lose serious amounts of money.   Cheerio  
  17. Interesting complaint blog about TCTMNBN

    Interesting new blog coming over from Africa, where apparently also some DeVere salesmen ( also known as TheCompanyThatMustNotBeNamed :-) ) have missold pension plans and investment products where either the advisor was not properly licensed to do so or the products were not licensed to be offered in that country or both.   An old story also for Germany, I am afraid. I have currently two clients alone with a prominent lawyer in Munich who is trying to get them their money back from illegally sold Generali Vision plans and also QROPS-plans that do not comply with German laws either (and can create terribly bad tax consequences for tax residents of Germany).  In these cases the sales took place at a time when DeVere Germany did not have the necessary license to offer advice on pension plans (in the form of pension insurances) and at least the GENERALI VISION is not allowed to be offered and sold in Germany.   If you are under the impression you have also been sold on an overly expensive pension plan by DeVere or other "Independent Financial Advisors" (there are a few outfits active in Germany, mostly all lacking the required licenses under German laws), you can send me a personal message and I'll hook you up with the lawyer Mattil in Munich who tries to collect a number of victims of such practice in order to sue the company for repayments.   You can certainly also support these brave guys in Africa by commenting on their Blog and thus give the topic a bit more prominence... :-) Cheerio  
  18. the others have commented already in detail about the issues of moving here in general, the additional health insurance costs you'd need to factor in etc. That is just for "normal" moving of residence. In order to be working in a similar capacity as you indicated in your initial opening of this thread, you would have to become a "Versicherungsberater". Which requires a special license in Germany...and there are only around 300 licensed Versicherungsberater in all of Germany, which may give you an idea about the complexity and requirements to become such a consultant in the first place. What you are planning on giving borders between financial advice and legal advice... and if you are not properly licensed, chances are very high that a disgruntled lawyer/solicitor specialized on fleezing naive and unprepared victims will send you a cease&desist order in short period of time which will costs you a few thousand EUR easily in legal fees.  Besides: you would only be able to support clients who have an issue with bad advice given in English and with perhaps offshore investment and pension plans etc where you could communicate with the advisors and pension/investment companies in Englisch. Anyone who has an issue with a Germany based pension insurance or investment product would not really do well in asking you to help as all communication would be expected in German, and not just colloquial German but business German with a profound knowledge of insurance and legal lingo, too. So, while I am sure that there is some demand for an English native speaker to act as a Versicherungsberater in Germany, the necessary qualifications to begin with, the licensing process (including rather expensive indemnity insurance), the lack of language skills etc does not seem to make your idea plausible in any way or form.    Of course you could join some of the pyramid structure sales organisation from international financial advisor companies and sell you sole to them and the devil in order take away some fellow Expat's money - but I have the feeling you are too good a person to do that :-) (others still do and I always wonder how they can sleep or look into the mirror)    Cheerio  
  19. E104/E106 Format advise asked to get health insurance

    Other public health insurance companies are much more forthcoming,,,,  especially the smaller ones who are more eager to get any new clients they can. Give up with TK and get yourself set up with one of the smaller public health insurances. And some of the active and specialized brokers here on Toytown could actually help you with that (would be nice, though, if you then decide to give them some other of your insurance business, too, because public insurance pays only a meager80-EUR fee to a broker which does not even come close to covering the costs for advising you and setting you up.    Cheerio  
  20. Freelancer pension and citizenship

    jsut for better understanding: where are you applying for your citizenship exactly? That too makes a huge difference...   Cheerio  
  21. Freelancer pension and citizenship

      Your 3 years of public pension contributions in Germany is worth zip, I am afraid.  Only AFTER you have paid on for 60+ months do you have a valid and irrefutable claim against the Deutsche Rentenversicherung, which only means that by then the Ausländeramt can and will accept this as sufficient proof of existing pension planning/payments.   Therefore you'll need to set up in lieu a private pension plan in accordance with the local requirements.  If you are applying for in Berlin, it has to be a RÜRUP pension plan into which a serious amount of money has to be paid in per plan until you reach retirement age of 67. You do not have to do any back payments now, just start the plan and show that you have started paying into the plan for (in my experience) two-three months. If you are applying somewhere else, it is important to ask what exact form of pension plan with what amount of money invested until age 67 is locally required. If you use a good financial advisor for Expats, they can actually inquire for you and then work out the fitting and compliant pension plans for you.   Cheerio  
  22. Surviving as a Freelancer w/high taxes and insurance?

    I am a bit confused... you write about being a freelancer and then about getting a paycheck..which is usually connected with being an employee? So what is it?   When you are self-employed, your overall initial financial burden is far lower, because you do not have to pay into public pension, unemployment insurance etc. Just taxes and health insurance (public or private whereas employees with even 3k EUR income will always have to pay into public insurance). At the same time, of course, you do not have the benefits later from unemployment insurance when out of work or pension payments when retiring.    And as a self-employed you have at least a chance to write off some expenditure which is also for you personally in some clever means and thus reduce your tax liability even further.  Thus I do not fully understand your complaint, to be perfectly honest. perhaps you can bring a few more details and numbers for better understanding?   Cheerio  
  23. Consumer Protection or Fraud complaint agency?

    HI there, first you have to figure out, which is the regulatory authority for that. In most German states it is the IHK (International Chamber of Trade and Commerce). But in some states it is the local "Gewerbeamt" Once you have figured that out, you can launch a direct protest to them. Don't hold your breath..but they might do some auditing. Furthermore you can approach the "Ombudsman". He is actually listed in the "Impressum" (Imprint,disclosure) on their website. That will trigger an investigation and might provide some results...   All in all, consumer protection in Germany is unfortunately at the level of some 3rd world countries (and I don't want to insult these countries...sorry )  Good luck, Cheerio  
  24. Costs for a Versicherungsberater

    Well, this is not going to be easy, I am afraid. You are dealing with a Versicherungsmakler - who is not a Versicherungsberater, whatever he/she says. A Versicherungsmakler is already in a very special legal connection with you because by law he is obligated to act in your best interest first and only (TReuhändischer Sachwalter des Kunden according to highest court decisions BGH) A Versicherungsmakler is also allowed according to the licenses and regulation and loads of court decisions to negotiate and arrange fee-based advice with you, as long as it is not connected with normal commission-based advice anyway. I.e. a Versicherungsmakler must not charge you a fee if on top of that he'll receive a commission from the insurance company anyway, as this would create, among other things, a conflict of interest. Your Versicherungsmakler, though, is offering you advice in a field where no commission is going to be paid to him because the goal is to get you into public health insurance. So far so good. And there is no regulation whatsoever about how high a fee he can demand from you. this is stricly an open-ended deal between you and the Versicherungsmakler, i.e. how much are you willing to pay for his services. Take it, renegotiate (if he is willing to negotiate) or leave it.  A true Versicherungsberater is a very rare species. There are only 300 +/- licensed in Germany. They have attorney-like privileges and are forbidden to accept any commission payments whatsoever. Hence they rely entirely on fees, usually based on the same fee-calculation as lawyers in Germany. But just as lawyers are allowed in Germany to arrange an alternative fee based on hourly costs or flat fees instead, though can Versicherungsberater.    Having said all of the above: a fee of around 2.000 EUR sounds plausible and reasonable from my point of view.    Cheerio  
  25. Switching from Private to Public health Insurance

    ok, this is a real and fully comprehensive German private health insurance indeed and I can tell you definitly, that it is also fully compliant with § 257 Abs 4 SGB V.      You'll just need to ask them to send you an "ARbeitgeberbescheinigung", because that particular document will then contain all this confirmation.   Cheerio