Offshore accounts not just for rich

PT       2003-01-25 
THE world of offshore banking has long been perceived as a home for the savings of the rich and famous.
Three times more people in the UK consider an offshore bank account as more of a status symbol than owning a Lamborghini, according to research carried out by Abbey National Offshore.
With this in mind, it's no wonder that 73% of those surveyed see Mick Jagger as the most likely celebrity to have an offshore bank account.
Alternatively, Jade from Big Brother seems to be the least likely candidate with a mere 7%.
However, the over 55-year-olds have a slightly different view on this with two-thirds seeing the Beck-hams as more obvious offshore bankers than a tax astute member of parliament (33%).
So who is offshore banking suitable for? While 42% of the UK perceived it as an elitist luxury, 69% of respondents are aware of the 1,000 minimum balance.
The most knowledgeable of offshore banking are the 45-54 age group (73%) and the shrewd York-shire folk (78%).
Despite this, the report found that 39% of people in the UK still believe that it takes a tax expert to have an offshore bank account.
Malcolm Corrigan, press and PR manager for Abbey National Offshore, said, "Offshore banking seems to be an area which many people shy away from through lack of understanding. With an estimated 250,000 people planning to move abroad to live, work or retire in 2003, offshore banking is an issue that must be addressed prior to the move.
"Just one in five people would consider offshore banking as a first priority if they decided to live or work overseas. The whole process is far simpler and easier to conduct
prior to the move, as there are so many other things to think about when you arrive at your new destination."
Abbey National Offshore said it seemed that it was a lack of understanding that deterred most people from opening an offshore account.
Yet is says that offshore banking is something we could all benefit from at some point in our lives, if we are working overseas, buying a property overseas or planning to retire to a sunnier climate.