Qatar vs. the UK: Benefits of doing business in the Middle East

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Are you at a crossroads in deciding whether to stay in the UK or relocate to Qatar and the Middle East? Will it be financially viable to move to Qatar and the Middle East? Expat banking and investment are subjects of continuous interest for financial moguls, but some of the most interesting differences between the two countries are social customs that are recognised when companies do business.

Personal financial affairs

According to the HSBC Expat Explorer Survey 2012, expats in the Middle East have a relatively positive economic outlook. In terms of economic satisfaction, expats in Oman (90%), Qatar (89%) and Saudi Arabia (83%) reported a higher satisfaction level about the state of their current economy than expats across the world (59%). The key factor that attracts expats to Middle Eastern nations is job opportunities, with 77% of expats citing this as a reason for relocating to Qatar, 76% for Saudi Arabia, 74% for Bahrain and 65% for the UAE. As it has been reported by business experts, there are more job opportunities in Qatar than in Bahrain, UAE and Saudi Arabia.

In addition, the survey indicated that the high salaries and low tax rates on personal income in many Middle Eastern countries have enabled expats to secure higher disposable income than expats living in other regions. The majority of expats interviewed in the survey reported higher earnings potential in some Middle Eastern countries such as Qatar, Oman and Bahrain than the global average. In the New Horizons article series published by the Guardian, there are now 4.5 million Britons abroad. Young and single expats prefer the tax-free income offered by countries in the Middle East and they normally stay for around 5 years and typically take middle-management roles in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar.

In Qatar, the government does not levy personal income taxes on employee earnings, estate or gift taxes and any social security taxes. In contrast, the basic tax rate in the UK for 2013-14 is 20% for the first £32,010 and higher rate of 40% will be taxed on annual income between £32,011 and £150,000, according to HM Revenue & Customs.

One of the most important things that expats do is to open saving accounts in Qatar. You can either open an account before you leave or set up one when you arrive in Qatar. If you are a customer of an international bank that has a presence in Qatar, you can open an account in Qatar before you set off. Your account will be opened before you arrive and your banking credit history will be consistent.

Social customs

In addition to financial issues, expats deciding to relocate also consider lifestyle and emotional factors such as cultural fit. By respecting the culture and customs in Qatar, you can blend into the Qatari society. While Arabic is the official language, English is commonly used for business. Given Qatar’s attractive investment climate, there are many professionals moving there with their children. For expats relocating with children, advice given by expats living in Qatar is to plan and apply for a place in school before you move (as reported in the Telegraph). Qatar has an excellent health care system and the Qatari government is planning to implement a universal health insurance system.

It is natural to feel uncertain before emigrating to a new country – no matter where you go! Before you uproot yourself and your family, evaluate how you want to move your career forward and the long-term benefits of becoming an expat and starting afresh in a new country.

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Uncertainty at Cooperative Bank following surprise downgrade

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Credit ratings agency Moody’s has downgraded the credit status of the Cooperative bank by a surprising six notches in a move which even surprised the City.

Such a downgrade, from A3 to Ba3, effectively makes the Cooperative’s debt junk status, and will raise the price at which the bank can borrow from the financial markets. The bank itself, whilst expressing its disappointment at the downgrade, is reassuring its customers that it will not need a bailout following the downgrade and a rapid deterioration in the bank’s financial position.

The Cooperative, having 6.5 million customers, a 1.5% share in the current account market, and an enviable reputation for ethical banking and customer service, posted losses of £600m in March. Admitting that it needed to raise fresh capital, in reassuring statements it insisted that current shortfalls could be plugged via selling off its insurance arm or by scaling back its banking interests. Additionally, money could be sought from its parent group which owns a chain of groceries, pharmacists and funeral homes. The bank is careful to stress that it does not need a government bailout, and that it is still liquid.

It is the latest in a rapid series of events to overtake the Manchester based bank. On top of the slow integration of Britannia Building Society – bought out three years ago by the Cooperative- recent months have seen the collapse of a deal to buy 632 branches from Lloyds Banking Group, and the sudden departure of chief executive Barry Tootell. Having replaced former Britannia boss Neville Richardson in 2011 (who left with a pay out of £4.6m), he will himself be replaced temporarily by Rod Bulmer until a permanent successor is found following Mr Tootell’s resignation.

It will be challenging times for Mr Bulmer.  The downgrade comes when Britain’s biggest trade unions are attending the AGM of union- backed Unity Trust Bank- which is 26.7% owned by the Cooperative. Union leaders are very worried at the situation facing the Cooperative, despite reassurances from the Unity Trust Bank. Managing director Richard Wilcox stated that, whilst the Cooperative had been discussed in scheduled meetings as a major investor, “the relationship with Co-op continues to be managed as normal. We work as an independent entity and are not impacted by changes to the credit rating of the Co-operative Bank.”

The situation at the Cooperative comes at a time when the new Prudential Regulation Authority has identified a £25bn shortfall in capital amongst UK banks, in an effort to strengthen the capital position of the UK’s financial institutions. City analysts believe that the Cooperative Bank accounts for between £80m to £1bn of this national shortfall; a shortfall which the same analysts state the Cooperative could fill by selling its insurance business, selling its life insurance interests to Royal London, and simplifying the bank itself.

Moody’s is not so certain that such measures or similar would be able to improve the bank’s closely watched capital ratio. This is low (at 8.8%) compared to other banks, and Moody’s was uncertain that the bank would be able to generate the extra capital needed.

Whatever happens next at the Cooperative, it will happen under great external scrutiny and amidst great uncertainty indicative of the banking sector currently.

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6 Steps for Choosing the Right Debt Settlement Company

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The best debt settlement company  for you is just 6 steps away.

Within a few years, debt problems have amplified like never before. So the demand for proficient debt settlement companies has also increased. Finding a good debt settlement company doesn’t have to be difficult. You only need to be watchful in order to contact the perfect debt settlement company for your needs.

Following are the 6 steps, which you need to climb without any fail to find out a trustworthy and legitimate debt settlement company in California:

1. Investigate the companies available around you: You can find out lots of debt settlement companies in California. Not all of them are equally good. Check the backgrounds of various companies. Find out what kind of service they provide. Ask people who may have contacted debt settlement companies earlier. Contact those companies that have a good reputation and positive word-of-mouth publicity.

2. Talk to company representative: You must be careful enough while talking to the representative of your chosen debt settlement company. Ask for details regarding the debt settlement program. Know whether or not the company is aware of the California debt settlement laws and follows them rigorously.

3. Know you payment plan properly: Do proper inquiry about your payment plan. You must have all the essential details like, how you need to pay, what is going to be the monthly payment amount and the duration of payment plan. Make sure there is no hidden cost waiting for you in your payment plan.

4. Make sure the collection calls stop: According to the California law, collection agency must not harass a person for collection of debts. The company you are eyeing must be careful about this. If any creditor or collection agency ignores the law and keeps pestering you, then the debt settlement company must take care of that.

5. Don’t deliver your personal information: Your personal information is not necessary for debt settlement programs. So don’t entertain any unfair demands of any company representative. Disclosing your personal information will only drag you into risky situations.

6. Look for written agreement: A lawful debt settlement company must provide you with written documents. All the important details regarding negotiation and settlement must be stated there clearly. If you find any inconsistency, then ask right away. Avoid vagueness to steer clear of menace.

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