Offshore Brokerage Account: Advantages and Disadvantages

Content Team7 minute read25 Aug 2021

Offshore bank accounts can be quite familiar to business players. In this article, we will delve into one of its specific types – Offshore Brokerage Account – which is a great interest to most traders. Below information will cover everything you should know about this type of account.


1. Meaning of an offshore brokerage account

Basically, a brokerage account is the bank account specifying for the purpose of investment and securities exchanges. Offshore brokerage account refers to the brokerage account to be opened in a jurisdiction outside of your original country.

A brokerage account is opened with a brokerage firm. Once you have deposited the fund into this account, regardless of cash or credit source, you can start trading and exchanging various types of investment securities as you want.

The purposes of the offshore brokerage account are numerous. In particular, the account holders usually use this investment account for the following common intentions:

  • Investing, holding, and trading stocks, bonds, forex, securities, or other financial instruments;
  • Engaging in a diversity of flexible transactions with different accounts;
  • Enjoying tax advantages resulted from the offshore status;

In most cases, an offshore brokerage account is owned by a company, not by an individual.

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2. Types of offshore brokerage accounts

There are three types of brokerage accounts that you should know. They are:

  • Cash account
  • Margin account
  • Discretionary account

In what follows, we will learn the key features of each type!


2.1. Cash account

Cash brokerage account refers to the circumstance in which you deposit cash into the account to make investments as well as enter transactions.

For example, if the investor wants to buy stock at the price of $3,000, he must have that full amount in his cash account to make the investment purchased. Furthermore, in some cases, he needs also to prepare the commissions to order the trade in advance.

Cash account is considered to be the most classic type of brokerage account for which most brokers will automatically set out and register their clients. Whether clients wish to upgrade their account to other types or not will be left to their discretion.

2.2. Margin account

While a cash account is cash-only accepted and the brokerage firm will not lend you any money, then a margin account is another approach. With a margin account, the brokerage firm will allow you to “borrow” money to buy the investment you want.

For instance, if the investor opens a margin account and wants to buy the stock at the price of $3,000, he can place in his account the cash amount of $2,000 and borrow the brokerage firm the remaining $1,000 to buy.

Sound easy? Yes, but many investors believe that this type of account is quite challenging for them. It is a fact that you can borrow the amount with low-interest rate loans and be more flexible to manage the trade settlement for your investment, but there will be higher risks of losing money.

Consequently, the broker who lends you money to make the investment purchase in the margin account will generally hold the right to sell your investments to cover the deficits without any acceptance from you, especially in the case that your own investment fails or decreases in value.

2.3. Discretionary account

A discretionary account is the account allowing an authorized broker to buy and sell investments on your behalf but without your consent. It appears to be common that discretionary account is suitable for those with a large investment portfolio, but not self-directed investors.

Below table summarized key highlights of the above-mentioned brokerage accounts:

Cash account Margin account Discretionary account
Must have full cash amount in the account Just need a part of cash amount in the account, the other can “borrow” from the broker The authorized broker will hold full right to decide the investment purchase of the account
Suitable for beginning investors Suitable for those seeking flexible trade settlements Suitable for those with a large investment portfolio and need to hire the advisor for management
Low-level risks High-level risks

3. Making comparison: Offshore brokerage account vs Domestic account

Some people make a comparison regarding how the offshore brokerage account is different from the domestic account. The table below helps you clarify some general differences between offshore and domestic brokerage account:

Offshore brokerage account Domestic brokerage account
Minimum threshold Higher Lower
Specialized financial instruments More flexible May be unavailable, or available with limitations
Access to various investments More flexible May be unavailable domestically

Holdings of multiple foreign currencies


Not allowed, or allowed with limitations

Tax benefits Yes No
Regulatory framework Open regulatory environment Strict regulatory environment
The possibility of risks Higher Lower

4. Pros & Cons of opening an offshore brokerage account

There are both benefits and drawbacks of opening an offshore brokerage account:

4.1. Pros of offshore brokerage accounts

  • Flexibility: Investors can make investments and earn returns at any time and anywhere across the world. In addition, options for investments in offshore accounts are also great in variety, which is different from the unavailability in domestic accounts. Examples of investments include stock, bonds, futures, forex, exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, etc.
  • Tax benefits: Offshore brokerage account is opened in many offshore jurisdictions which allow tax savings and many supportive tax incentives for businesses, especially in respect of capital gains tax exemption.
  • Asset protection: Some domestic governments may often face volatile regulatory circumstances, increasing the possibility of risk for the investor’s funds. On the other hand, offshore accounts in certain jurisdictions being economically and politically stable like Hong Kong, Singapore, Belize, The BVI, and some others will send their assets to be safe.
  • Privacy: It is quite sure that many investors do not expect their information and things like what stocks they are investing in to be disclosed. Most offshore laws set out strict corporate and banking confidentiality framework to ensure privacy protection for account holders.

Furthermore, there are other benefits of having an offshore brokerage account like offering investors unlimited access to international markets, diversifying investment opportunities, or no condition of income. You may explore more of its relevant benefits by reading the blog: 8 benefits of offshore bank accounts that you must read

4.2. Cons of offshore brokerage accounts


  • Opening cost: The cost for opening a brokerage account may be a bit more expensive than that for domestic accounts. Depending on the jurisdiction and the broker you have chosen, the fee to open the account can be varied.
  • Initial deposit: Likewise, each broker of your choice has different sets of requirements. Some online brokerage accounts may even allow you to start the investment account with no requirement for the initial deposit, or at a minimal cost. Some, on the other hand, may require their clients to have minimum investments ranging from $100,000 to $1 million.
  • Financial risks: Using a margin account (as explained in section 2.2) is an example of the risk potential that you may have for utilizing an offshore brokerage account. The unplanned or inappropriate usages of the offshore brokerage account in connection with brokers may unexpectedly lead you to end in a financial crisis.
  • Legality concerns: Offshore investment has emerged for a long time to most wealthy and multinational corporations, and its records were witnessed with both positive and negative stories. The matter of whether it is legal, moral, or safe has aroused the interest of the business world. Due to some cases of tax evasion by shifting offshore, many countries, especially in the United States and Europe, are tightening their tax laws. Reports on foreign account holding or information about foreign customers are what most banks in such countries must comply with.

Anyway, if investors are making an offshore investment with their legal brokerage account, and there is nothing wrong with their compliance with the law, then they can feel secure.  The thing to be is that some tax laws may become a bit more complicated.

In reality, do choose a reputed offshore jurisdiction to handle your assets, plus be in compliance and well-prepared (like proper due diligence always in need), then you can feel free to move ahead and utilize offshore brokerage accounts to advantage your investments opportunities.

5. Countries you need to consider when choosing offshore brokerage account

Offshore brokerage account is ideally preferred for those in need of opening a bank account for financial investment purposes. There is a range of licensed firms where you are allowed to open a brokerage account these days. Interestingly, many foreign investors choose to open an offshore bank account to facilitate easier access to their offshore brokerage accounts.

To gain more insights into which offshore banking country you should consider, you can visit our blog here >> Countries with best offshore bank accounts for 2021

The question is where you should set up your desired brokerage account. Depending on your circumstance and your chosen offshore bank, you may capture different advantages as well as investment opportunities. Popular jurisdictions that are widely known for setting up an offshore brokerage bank account are:


Suppose you have an e-commerce company and profits generated from your business are mostly served for other investments like purchasing stocks. If you are looking for an offshore brokerage account to cover your need, Mauritius or Puerto Rico can be the ones highly recommended for your e-commerce business!

Each offshore locale can be tied closely to different features that make it stand out, so it is advisable that you spend time checking your choice before moving.

6. The bottom line

In a nutshell, opening an offshore brokerage account has both benefits and drawbacks. If you are looking for offshore investment via a brokerage account, it is relatively essential to be well prepared with meticulous planning and financial preparation.

To make the most of its benefits regarding the legality, tax implication, better asset protection, or international investment opportunities, it is highly recommended that you choose a reputed offshore jurisdiction and brokerage firm to work with.

Please note that the information presented in this blog is for general use. If you as an investor are seriously putting opening an offshore brokerage account into consideration, please engage professional experts for practical advice upon your circumstances.

Feel free to contact us if you have questions concerning Offshore Brokerage Account!

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