“I’m making aliya next month, Doug,” a soon-to-be-retired doctor called from New York to tell me. “Now that I’ll be living in Jerusalem, should I move my investments to Israel and transfer all my brokerage and bank accounts to one of the Israeli banks?”
Look at each part individually
Moving yourself and your family to Israel, though very exciting, should be handled in stages. First, deal with the basics of getting here, finding a place to live, signing up for health care, and learning Hebrew. Luckily these days we have the amazing people at Nefesh b’Nefesh to help with all of that. Focus on setting your family up in your new home. There is no need to rush into moving your investments to Israel.
Your money doesn’t have to make aliya, too
Although you’ll need a bank account in Israel to handle basic cash flow, you may not be comfortable transferring all your assets to a new currency and a new investment system. In fact, you’ll discover that as an American, it’s problematic for you to own Israeli mutual funds and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). Therefore, while you settle into your new home, your portfolio can stay in “the old country.” Read this piece for six reasons to maintain a U.S. brokerage account even (read: especially) when you live in Israel: Profile-Financial.com/us-brokerage-account
Update your investments to reflect your new reality
At every lifestyle milestone you should review your financial plan. Just as getting married, having a child, or receiving an inheritance should trigger you to go over your financial numbers, moving to a new country should, too. It might be tricky right away, though, since you may not have a good sense of your income and outflow each month. Speak with an experienced cross-border financial advisor since he will know the basics of what you can expect your budget to look like in your new life.
If you have any trouble with your American investment firm telling you that now that you’ve moved overseas, you must close your account, feel free to call my office to find out the solutions that are available (02) 624-2788.
Douglas Goldstein, CFP®, is the Director of Profile Investment Service, Ltd., which specializes in helping people who live in Israel with their US dollar assets and American investment and retirement accounts. He helps olim meet their financial goals through asset allocation, financial planning, and using money managers.
Published October 29, 2018. Updated October 2020.