Investment funds for the Golden Visa in Portugal

An investment of € 350,000 in investment funds or venture capital funds is one out of the eight qualified types of investment provided for a Golden Visa application.  An investment fund is a type of collective investment under which all fund participants invest money together into stocks or other capital investments .

 

The intention of the funds is the capitalization, innovation and development of Portugal and investments are established under the Portuguese law. Therefor funds need to have a maturity at the time of investment of at least five years and at least 60% of the value of the investments has to be made in commercial companies headquartered in Portugal. The investments funds  are managed by so called investment fund management companies and are regulated by the Portuguese Capital Markets Board - CMVM. The funds are also managed, audited, and valued by independent and licensed companies providing additional security and transparency to the investor.

 

In order to qualify for a temporary residence permit, the investor must perform, and maintain, an investment activity for a minimum period of 5 years. The investment activities that may entitle the investor to a temporary residence permit are foreseen in the relevant law. The investment activity may be performed directly by the applicant or through a single shareholder limited liability company incorporated in Portugal (or in other EU Member State, as long as it has a permanent establishment in Portugal).

 

All funds are regulated by the Portuguese authorities (The Portuguese Securities Market Commission - CMVM, Bank of Portugal, the external Fund Manager, and the Tax Authorities). Regulated funds must ensure transparency, risk mitigation and control, as well as regularly fully audited  accounts. Some funds are backed by the Portuguese government through subsidies or financed by the IFD (Instituição Financeira de Desenvolvimento).

Content


How can I make the investment?

  • The Golden Visa candidate decides about the investment plan;
  • The Golden Visa candidate opens a bank account in Portugal;
  • The Golden Visa  candidate signs the fund documents;
  • Three documents will be needed from this point:
    • Two bank documents: a) proof of the international transfer to the bank and b) proof of payment of the fund). Both documents will be supplied by the bank
    • one document of the fund (proof of acquisition of a specific fund) issues by the fund manager
  • With the three documents your lawyer can follow the GV process.
  • The candidate applies for the Golden Visa  and keeps the investment for 6 years.

Comparison investment funds and real estate

Comparison rela estate versus investment fund golden visa Portugal

What are the benefits / advantages from investment funds?

  • Investing in funds is relatively easy although applicants should invest enough time to find the right solution for them. Not all funds are the same. Agents usually also ask for a fee to evaluate the funds of around 2000 EUR.
  • For Non-Residents, fund dividends are income tax exempt (even withholding tax) and capital gains from participation units redemption or fund liquidation are income tax exempt in Portugal. But you have to pay an initial fee up to 5% to sign up for the fund to the managing company.
  • Regulation ensure that investors can always resell their fund units to other investors, convert the units into real estate assets supported by the fund, or simply exit the fund.
  • By choosing a good investment management team in charge of a fund, the opportunities of the market otherwise inaccessible to the overseas investor are more easily captured.

What are the cons / disadvantage of investment funds?

  • There are no or low guaranteed returns
  • You have to stay with the funds for a minimum time regardless of the Golden Visa application. Often these minimum terms are around 7-10 years.
  • The minimum investment is  €350k while investing in real estates the minimum amount starts from €280k.
  • You do not pay taxes but pay many fees:
    • management fee up to 3%
    • upfront fee up to 5%
    • performance fee up to 2%
    • or other fees like custodian fee / agent fee that range up to 1%
  • Co-investment solutions are not available/applicable for Golden Visa funds.
  • Although funds manager say that real estate is not the better option most funds invest in all kinds of real estate activities. If that is the case, why not invest directly in real estate?

How can I evaluate an investment fund?

After defining the investment objective, the individual risk preference and the investment period, the selection of the suitable investment product also requires the consideration of other important factors. For example, legal and tax law aspects must be observed in the case of funds with foreign domicile. It should also be clarified how high the costs of the assessment are.

 

The triangle of successful fund selection is thus:

  • performance
  • Risk and
  • Costs.

What information should be considered to characterize the Investor?

  • Age;
  • Qualifications;
  • Greater or lesser risk aversion;
  • Availability for short, medium or long term commitment;
  • Knowledge about financial products. 

What types of risk profile exist?

 

There is no legislation regarding the different investment risk profiles. However, the most common designations are:

  • Conservative or prudent (suitable funds route for Golden Visa);
  • Balanced or moderate (suitable funds route for Golden Visa);
  • Bold or aggressive (not suitable funds route for Golden Visa).

Where should I review the funds?

Which sources of information are preferred depends very much on the information needs and interests of the investor as well as the type and amount of the investment. For an actively managed fund portfolio with equity funds, there is certainly a greater need for information than for a long-term savings plan with bond funds. There are basically the following sources of information:

 

  • The value of the individual securities positions is shown on the account statement monthly, quarterly or annually. For purchases and sales during the year, account movements should also be taken into account when calculating the performance.
  • Fund performance charts can be accessed from fund databases. This requires entering the exact ISIN of the fund (see for example: www.e-funddata.com with data on performance, risks or costs of funds in recent years).
  • Fund companies' fact sheets and product sheets show the value development of the funds, including further data on the portfolio structure, risk and fund management, etc. These fact sheets are available on the websites of the fund companies. A list of all Austrian fund companies can be found here, an overview of all foreign fund companies that are active in Austria here.
  • For those investors who are particularly interested in a detailed portfolio structure of the fund, the semi-annual and annual reports are the most important source of information. The sales prospectuses and, above all, the simplified prospectuses are a very important and useful source of information before buying a fund. This is because information on costs (TER - Total Expense Ratio) and turnover (PTR - Portfolio Turnover Ratio) of the funds can be found here.
  • News about investment funds are available via specialized online information platforms and print media.

Can US citizens apply for investment funds?

In 2016 a resolution of the Assembly of the Republic in Portugal approved the agreement with the United States to reinforce the tax compliance and implement the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). With the entry into force of the US FATCA, all foreign financial entities, is obliged to identify the accounts of its North American Clients (US Persons).

 

The act requires that foreign financial Institutions and certain other non-financial foreign entities to report on the foreign assets held by their U.S. account holders or be subject to withholding on withholdable payments.  The Act also contained legislation requiring U.S. persons to report, depending on the value, their foreign financial accounts and foreign assets.

For this purpose, US Persons are considered to be American citizens or residents of the USA.

 

There are qualifying funds that will deal with the US government reporting requirements. Once the lawyers provide a report, US persons can then make their investments. 


What is the fee structure for funds?

The traditional fee structure of funds is called 'Two and Twenty' (2/20), which consists of a 2% management fee and a 20% performance fee. The management fee is a fixed fee charged on the total assets under management (AUM) of the fund and is ostensibly leveraged to maintain the fund's operating costs. The performance fee, on the other hand, is charged on the profits made by the fund and is used to reward fund managers and dealers with bonuses for outperforming the market. The commonly postulated justification for the Two and Twenty fee structure is that it strikes a delicate balance between safeguarding the financial sustainability of the fund management company and, at the same time, creating incentives for fund managers to provide solid absolute returns.

 

A fixed management fee of 2% ensures that the fund can survive an economic downturn if the fund is negatively exposed to pro-cyclical assets, while the 20% performance rate ensures that the fund always has an incentive to deliver absolute returns and not merely relative to investment. If fund managers are able to generate extraordinary profits as a result, then paying performance fees to investment managers can be a price worth paying. 

 

Performance fee

The fund industry is rewarded with the idea that fund managers can use their superior investment advice to generate extraordinary returns for investors and, in turn, be rewarded with high fees for their skill. Therefore, it is no exaggeration to say that the fund's fee structure should be treated on an equal footing with the fund's performance, and investors should consider both when making decisions on where to allocate their precious capital.

 

Alternative Fee Structures

While the rate cut makes traditional funds more attractive to investors, sophisticated fee structures that link compensation closer to performance offer an alternative mechanism for improving investor terms. For example, many funds employ a 'high watermark' to ensure that fund managers are not overpaid in performance fees as a result of depreciation followed by a compensatory appreciation in the net asset value (NAV) of the fund. Without a high watermark, fund managers would earn performance fees twice over the same general increase in asset value - what is known as "double-dipping" - which is considered by many investors to be an unfair situation. This is usually combined with a complex accounting mechanism called 'equalization', which ensures that all investors maintain the same NAV per share. In other words, equalization relativizes the high watermark for each individual investor, preventing new investors from taking advantage of paying performance fees due to a high pre-investment watermark.

 

In addition, an increasing number of funds use obstacles to ensure that fund managers are not rewarded for performance that does not exceed what could have been achieved through a passive investment strategy. The obstacle can be charged at a fixed rate or linked to an appropriate market index and is used to discount the performance fee so that fund managers are rewarded only for superior market performance. While for 'soft obstacles', performance fees are charged on the entire fund's return (provided the minimum fee is exceeded); for ‘difficult obstacles’, fund managers only earn fees on returns that exceed the reference rate.

 

What is the difference: open-ended versus closed-ended funds?

One of those fundamental, though sometimes overlooked, fund-raising decisions is the choice between employing an open and closed fund structure. The fundamental difference between an open and a closed fund concerns the liquidity restrictions for investors to redeem their subscriptions. For open-ended funds, investors have the option to partially or fully redeem their subscription on each Redemption Day, subject to the redemption terms assigned in the Fund's offering document. In other words, if investors decide to redeem their shares in the Fund, the fund is required to repurchase those shares at a price equal to the NAV per share on the relevant Redemption Day.

 

Closed-end funds, on the other hand, do not provide any internal mechanism for investors to redeem their subscriptions. Investor subscriptions are linked to the life of the fund unless investors can find a buyer for their shares on the secondary market. If investors do not want or are unable to sell their shares in the fund, investors will not receive the value of their shares until the time the fund manager decides: sometimes, not to the extent that the fund stops liquidating.

 

Should I worry about liquid or illiquid assets?

Yes! Liquidity restrictions on the redemption of investors' shares in the Fund tend to reflect liquidity restrictions on the Fund's underlying assets. If the Fund wants to invest in illiquid assets, such as real estate, unlisted companies and other alternatives, then it is likely that the Fund will need to place restrictions on investors' ability to redeem their shares. Otherwise, the Fund may be unable to satisfy investors' redemption requests due to its inability to realize the fair value of its illiquid investments in a short period of time - what is sometimes referred to as a 'liquidity gap'. This also protects non-bailout investors by ensuring that non-bailout investors do not implicitly subsidize bailout investors as a result of the Fund's liquidity being compromised by excessive investor redemption requests.

 

Alternative liquidity restrictions

General restrictions on investor redemption requests represent an express limitation on investors' ability to redeem at will, so fund managers should only accept such restrictions when there are restrictions on the liquidity of the Fund's underlying assets. However, the funds available may still include certain provisions for managing the liquidity of investor shares, such as side buttons, locks, and gates. The side pockets allow the funds to separate net investments from iliquids, so that illiquid investments are edited into a separate class of shares, of which investors incorporate a pro-rata share. Shares in the new side pocket class can only be redeemed when illiquid assets can be accurately valued, or which improves liquidity problems arising from investors redeeming their shares during periods when the fund cannot realize the full value of its investments illiquid.

 

Alternatively, blocking periods can be used within a class of active shares to prevent redemptions within a certain period of time. If investors create by redeeming their investment during the lockout period, they must pay a substantial redemption fee that discourages investor redemptions until the lockout period ends. Gates, on the other hand, allows fund managers to suspend investor redemptions when there are significant net sources of the fund in order to maintain the liquidity of the fund's assets. As a result, a wide variety of liquidity mechanisms available to fund managers ensures that liquidity management falls not only within the domain of portfolio management but also within the legal structure of the fund. As alternative investments gain increasing popularity with fund managers around the world, the understanding of the provided and closed white fund structures only grows in importance.


What kind of funds exist?

a) Funds specifically designed for Golden Visa Investors 

These funds are exclusively designed for Golden Visa investors. They usually offer the option of having a matching length or option of earlier withdrawal and accept €350K investments. The funds are usually geared towards the real estate market and carry low to medium risk, with low to medium expected returns. These funds are often focused on preserving the investors' capital and paying some type of yearly dividends. 

 

b) Traditional Venture Capital Funds 

These funds are normally invested in early to mid-stage tech companies with forecasted global growth. Sometimes there are higher minimum investments than the €350K threshold, with a fixed fund length of 10+ years. There is a higher risk but also higher potential rewards. The goal is to maximize the capital gains at the exit, with no yearly dividend payments. 

 

c)  Traditional Private Equity Funds 

These funds are typically invested in more traditional markets or financial entities, sometimes with a focus on yearly dividends. There can be a higher minimum investment than the €350K threshold, with the fund length going up to 10+ years, with often a medium to high risk, with expected rewards accordingly.

 

 

Despite the great care, we take over no responsibility for the topicality, correctness, completeness of the information on this site.