Ted Bauman, an editor and writer at Banyan Hill Publishing, is a complex man with a colorful and enviable resume.
These days, he specializes in low-risk investment strategies and asset protection, but he doesn’t resent the years he spent working at McDonald’s, Burger King and a gas station when he was young.
He says now, “What I learned from those jobs is what it’s like to be a person in a working-class environment, what it’s like to have to make ends meet by working physically hard and having to put up with a lot of flak from supervisors and bosses. Ultimately, those job experiences gave me the key to appreciate the fact that if you really want a society to thrive over the long term, you have to pay attention to the welfare of the people at the bottom as well as the top.”
Bauman was born in Washington, D.C. He earned postgraduate degrees in both economics and history at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. His time with Habitat for Humanity resulted in travel throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. An organization that Bauman helped to establish, Slum Dwellers International, now serves 14 million people in 35 countries.
Bauman’s only regret is failing to make better use of his time early in his career. “I would have been a lot more productive if I had known then what I know now about the importance of setting aside the most productive part of the day to work on what’s in front of you.”
Bauman has been published in a variety of respected journals around the world and has done extensive research and writing for the United Nations, the government of South Africa and several nonprofit funding agencies in Europe. In The Bauman Letter, one of three blogs he writes or edits at Banyan, he recently suggested strategies for disaster-proofing valuables. He has a gift for bringing mundane financial topics to life through concrete examples. This article opened with a story about a relative who had recently died.
Bauman had recommended keeping a store of assets beyond the reach of financial institutions, so his relative had cash, collectibles, precious metals and gems at home. However, they were simply stashed in his home office and therefore vulnerable to burglars and all means of destruction. Indeed, Bauman remembered a time when his relative’s house almost burned to the ground.
Even if risk of theft is minimal, take Ted Bauman’s advice and secure your liquid assets. Here are the five ideas he shared in the Bauman Letter:
1. Home safe or lockbox
Invest in a home safe or lockbox that’s fireproof and waterproof. If you have large valuables, such as guns or artwork, Bauman advises ordering a customized safe that can be bolted down.
Ted Bauman goes on to say that your home isn’t the ideal place to keep your most monetarily valuable possessions. Although it’s human nature to want to keep your valuables close at hand, that’s not the safest place for them. Moreover, the best strategies for wealth preservation are the most diverse. Don’t store all your assets in one place.
2. Safe-deposit box at the bank
Even a safe-deposit box in a U.S. bank is better than your home for securing liquid assets. Your things are locked away out of sight but readily accessible when you want them.
One downside to this option is having to insure your valuables in storage. They are not covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Here’s another potential disadvantage: Banks in Greece were ordered by the government to surrender the contents of deposit boxes during the country’s recent financial crisis. That has never happened in the U.S., but Ted Bauman feels that the implications are worth thinking about.
3. Safe-deposit box at a foreign bank
A third option is to keep a box at a foreign bank. Switzerland, for example, offers secure storage to account holders.
Safe jurisdictions like Switzerland’s protect clients from government confiscation and are not subject to foreign court orders. Any U.S. citizen who was after your wealth, according to our expert, would have to present a case in a foreign court.
4. Independent vault in the U.S.
There are also storage vaults that are not associated with financial institutions. These give clients an extra layer of security because they’re not regulated by government agencies or courts as banks are. Banks are often required to surrender client information to the government, but private vault companies are under no such obligation. Only a formal court order would expose your sensitive information to prying eyes.
5. Independent vault in a foreign country
An even better solution is to find a discreet foreign vault company that isn’t subject to government regulations or IRS requirements. According to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, you needn’t report assets such as cash or precious metals.
Some companies will custom-build your vault. Switzerland, Singapore and Austria are known for their excellent asset-storage facilities. Be prepared, though, to pay a high price for your vault. You’ll also have to be physically present to open an account.
Locating your vault in New Zealand would be more convenient. Foreigners can remotely open accounts there and ship their assets for deposit.
Ted Bauman takes it as a good sign when readers question global financial strategies. They wonder if accommodating big business is the only way to go. Bauman offers no pat answers, but he does firmly believe that the economy should provide long-term benefits for all of society rather than just businessmen and the financially savvy.
Be smart about securing your liquid assets. The generations to come will reap the benefits of your prudence.