Colombia is a country with many citizens holding dual nationality. As the economy matures and the country becomes more globalized, many Colombians are looking abroad for the sake of diversifying investments, lifestyles, and simply to become more global citizens.
Australia has certain attractive options open to international investors. While traditionally, Asians have been the primary beneficiaries, investment advisor John O’Brien of Visis Private Wealth tells Finance Colombia that these options are available to Colombians as well, and there are many reasons HNW (High Net Worth) Colombians might want to take advantage of the offer.
Above photo: Brisbane, Australia offers a welcoming atmosphere, and sports a thriving Colombian community.
Prior to O’Brien’s upcoming trip to participate in Asobancaria’s 30th Capital Markets Symposium (Simposio de Mercados Capitales) in Medellin, he spoke with Finance Colombia’s executive editor Loren Moss to explain Australia’s Significant Investor Visa program and what it may mean for Colombian investors.
FC: Tell me about VISIS Private Wealth, and your role with the company.
O’Brien: VISIS Private Wealth is a holistic wealth management practice with offices in Brisbane and Sydney Australia, servicing clients worldwide. We specialize in providing advice to executives and high net worth (HNW) individuals on all their strategic financial advice requirements. We are a privately-owned, national award-winning firm and I am proud to be one of the four owners of the practice.
What caused you to pay attention to the Colombian market? Why would Colombians or investors in this hemisphere want to take a closer look at Australia?
O’Brien: I have been researching the South American market for a number of years and saw the opportunity that arose with the 30th capital market symposium being held in Medellin this year as an opportunity to expand our Significant Investor Visa (SIV) program into Colombia.
FC: Qualified investors can take advantage of the Australian Significant Investor Visa program. What is it, and who is it directed towards?
O’Brien: The SIV program is a relatively new entry pathway to residency in Australia that enables entrepreneurs, business owners and High Net Worth individuals to make qualifying investments into the Australian market to gain permanent residency in Australia.
Current applicants through the special investor Visa program have over the last few years predominantly come from China but there has been a new growing demand from Latin American countries. One of the many benefits of the SIV program is that English language and age requirements of most other visas don’t apply.
FC: Why would a Latin American Investor consider applying for an Australian Significant Investor Visa? What are the advantages and justifications?
O’Brien: Latin American investors have favored investing in Australia due to a high level of political and legislative stability and also from a lifestyle perspective of being a beautiful country to raise a family with access to many internationally acclaimed universities.
Another advantage of utilizing the SIV pathway is that once the qualifying period of four years being invested has been met there are no further ongoing investment requirements and your capital can be invested with more flexibility.
“Over the past 5 years a burgeoning Colombian community in Brisbane has developed, which I am lucky to be part of and enjoy.” -John O’Brien
FC: What is in it for Australia? Why would the government come up with such a program?
O’Brien: The benefits are definitely not just for the SIV participants, there are also significant benefits to Australia as a country.
The money invested in Australia helps start-up companies and small businesses get access to capital to help them flourish and grow into larger businesses potentially employing more staff and helping future economic growth of the country.
FC: Who should not apply? Other than available liquidity, are there limitations on countries of origin, or other factors that limit the audience for this program?
O’Brien: Other than the minimum investment amount of $5M AUD which as at today equates to roughly $3.65M USD there are no excluded people based solely on country of origin. There are a number of documents required and verifications that need to be forwarded to the relevant Australian agencies confirming identification of the applicants and source of funds.
We understand the privacy concerns of HNW individuals and all discussions and communications are dealt with in the strictest of confidence.
FC: What special knowledge does Visis offer? What makes Visis especially suited to handle the process?
O’Brien: VISIS has a number of existing arrangements with top investment banks, immigration lawyers, accommodation providers and even education colleges to meet the needs of the SIV investor and their children if they have them.
This makes us uniquely placed to assist in both applying for a significant investor visa on the individual’s behalf and also assisting the individual and family members becoming part of the Australian community should they wish to live in Australia.
Over the past 5 years a burgeoning Colombian community in Brisbane has developed, which I am lucky to be part of and enjoy.
The significant investor Visa program we utilize to has already had 90 applicants approved and over $300M AUD invested in the program.
FC: How can investors contact you?
O’Brien: I am able to be contacted directly on email; [email protected] and am able to provide all the required paperwork for the SIV. Alternatively I can be contacted by phone on +61 (7) 3231 4004 to discuss your specific requirements.
My Spanish is very slowly improving but still very limited, I am lucky my wife is from Colombia and has been great in helping me deal with any language barriers!
All photos courtesy of Visis. Cover photo: Brisbane, Australia Skyline.
Finance Colombia received promotional consideration for the publication of this interview.