For the longest time, even before coming to the USA, I wanted to invest in Mutual Funds. I know that it is a better financial product than most banks’ savings accounts. We have spent more than 2 years in the USA and felt confident that it is time we spent some money to invest long-term. We had some amounts saved up.
I did my research, I read blogs, and checked some of the Filipino Financial groups on Facebook, and talked with my wife about it. My wife used to be a production staff of ABS-CBN News Channel’s “On The Money.”
I had a trip to Manila in October 2017 and we agreed that I will open a mutual fund investment account. I set my eyes on the Philippine Equity Fund. It was marketed as an aggressive, long-term investment fund. We did not want to withdraw the funds in the next few years anyway, so we thought we were in it for the long term.
So I checked out the requirements for opening a mutual funds account; downloaded the forms, checked what other documents I needed to present, and planned to go to a BPI branch to submit my application.
If you want to check the requirements for opening an account, go to http://bpiassetmanagement.com or download directly the PDF of the application form: https://www.bpiassetmanagement.com/upload/files/Downloadable%20Application%20Form__UITF_082216.pdf
When I went to the BPI Branch where I keep my account, I talked with a bank officer and she lodged my application. Surprisingly, she asked me to fill out another application form from ALFM, which is the subsidiary managing this account,.
I also needed to fill out the FATCA form, which determines whether you are a US person or not. FATCA stands for Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). This form asks if you are:
- A US Citizen
- A Green Card Holder
- Considered as a US resident for tax purposes
- Born in the US or a US territory
Essentially, if you are working in the USA and have stayed there for 183 days or more in the past 3 years, then you are considered a US person.
After filling out several pages of forms from BPI and ALFM, I discovered that as a US person, I am not allowed to invest in mutual funds in the Philippines!
But I understand that the United States has become more stringent in monitoring the movement of money of its citizens and permanent residents. So that meant that our plan to invest in a mutual fund did not materialize.
Oh well. It seems we need to look for other investment instruments and opportunities.