If you’re looking to take control of your financial investments in Japan but don’t know where to start, here’s how you can get support with retirement, insurance, real estate and more!
I sat there nervously, my palms sweating as I awaited Robert Alfa to come into the meeting room for my first-ever professional financial review.
As a young business owner who had prioritized reinvesting money into my business instead of my personal goals, I had many thoughts racing through my head. Did I have enough cash on hand to start investing? Will I be given a judgmental look when I say I haven’t started planning for retirement yet? Will I follow any of the financial jargon and clearly understand what strategy is best for me?
Argentum Wealth is a licensed financial planning firm located in the Roppongi area of Tokyo. They have advisors with decades of experience helping foreign residents in Japan with international and portable investment accounts and managed portfolios. They also advise on solutions for U.S. nationals such as 401K pension transfers, individual retirement account (IRA) and brokerage account portfolio management.
7 phase financial planning life cycle
Robert Alfa and Lloyd Danon of Argentum Wealth Management.
I learned from visiting Argentum Wealth that they specialize in investments, real estate and insurance, and they can support you at any stage of your financial planning.
The folks at Argentum described these stages as a life cycle that has seven phases that help both you and your advisor identify what stage of life you’re at in relation to the kinds of investments you’ll be making:
2. Young and unmarried
3. Newly married
4. Married with young children
5. Married with older children
This life cycle is a loose framework; you might remain single, go through a divorce, have a bicultural relationship with someone with different money values or any other kind of personal situation that affects your decisions around money over the course of your life. The advisors at Argentum Wealth have extensive experience working with clients with different backgrounds and circumstances, from expats and business owners in central Tokyo to residents in rural areas of Japan.
When I asked what kinds of backgrounds their clients have, they described these profiles:
The young professional is someone who is around 25 to 35 years old and single. They’ve been living in Japan for an extended period and are earning more money. They want to speak with an advisor so they can start investing some of their savings, usually on a monthly basis. The monthly investment usually starts from a few hundred dollars, or ¥20,000 to ¥30,000, per month.
A couple planning to have kids
Typically, when couples plan to have kids, they seek support in four areas: life insurance, buying a house, saving for a kid’s education and retirement. It’s also not uncommon for one partner to take time off from work for child-rearing, affecting how they strategize their money.
Clients who are at this stage of the life cycle are typically earning quite well. They already have some assets and have accumulated money to widen the scope of their investments to grow wealth. Most people at this stage already have investments but are looking to clean up their portfolio and restructure it.
These are people who are sending off their youngest child to college and expect to retire in about a decade. Most clients at this stage already own property and have protection but are starting to think about their financial needs after retirement. They might also be at the end of saving for their kids’ education and have paid off their mortgage, so there is an opportunity for them to shift their focus.
It’s helpful to consider where you are before your financial review so that your planner can better navigate the conversation with you. If you are a couple, it’s recommended that you understand your priorities and are on the same page before your review. The costs to work with a financial advisor will vary depending on the scope of what they will assist you with.
Financial review process
A financial review is a three-part process that includes the review, a proposal of beneficial solutions and an honest conversation about how to move forward with your goals.
The review took about 45 minutes. Alfa took out a four to five page questionnaire that covered various topics including my current financial situation and my future goals. I shared with him that I’m at the Young Professional phase of the life cycle which gave us a great starting point. We went through each question together, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that they were pretty simple and straightforward. For example, how many years from now would I be thinking of buying a house? How much money would I like to have each month when I’m retired?
After hearing my aims, Alfa helped me calculate how much I should be investing each month for retirement so that I could meet my goals in the next few decades. He was helpful in answering my questions; when I asked how much money I would need to have saved in order to have a home, he explained how I could simply finance a mortgage through a bank loan. Obtaining a bank loan for a mortgage in Japan is possible depending on your residence status and annual income. In my case, what had felt like a distant dream of being a homeowner was a lot closer and more real than I had imagined!
Moreover, as a business owner, this financial review was an excellent opportunity to gauge how much to be paying myself from my business to meet my personal money goals.
I left the conversation feeling clear about my financial standing, how much money I’d need to invest each month to reach my goals, and how soon I would be ready to start. And I realized that having a conversation is nothing to be nervous about and is a lot more approachable than I had realized!
The financial review at Argentum Wealth is a free, three-part process that includes the review, a proposal of their solutions, and then a conversation about their service options to see if you want to work together. If you’re thinking of building your wealth, no matter what stage you’re at, it can’t hurt to consult with them to increase your support and investment options while you’re in Japan.
Argentum Wealth Management
Location: Argentum Wealth Management, 601 Hinoki Azabudai Building, 3-1-5 Azabudai, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0041
Phone:03 5549 9099