How to start investing as an expat

How to start investing as an expat

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A lot of people are looking for ways to invest their savings but don't know where to start. Scalable Capital is here to explain how you can grow your savings and make your first investment as an expat.

Many people would like to start investing but may be hesitant due to some beliefs they hold about it. Some things you may have heard or wondered yourself might be:

  • “The prices are too high, so it's not worth getting started.”
  • “Stocks are only for wealthy people.”
  • “I can't become a shareholder because I don't have the required knowledge in regard to the stock market.”

Many people believe that investing is only for business tycoons or tech bros, but that simply isn’t true. Anyone can increase their savings through stocks with the right knowledge and tools.

In investing, what is comfortable is rarely profitable. - Robert Arnott

Why you should start investing

Investing can help you to increase your wealth by earning a passive income. Owning assets, rather than saving, can help you to make profits and outpace inflation.

You also don’t need to be wealthy to start investing. There are even stocks that cost as little as one euro.

Stock: A quick guide

Stock, also known as equity, is a term used to describe the ownership of a part of a company or corporation. To be a stockholder, or a partial owner, you must buy a share. A share is the smallest unit of measurement used to describe a portion of the company that you own. Imagine that a company is like a pizza, and you own one slice of it. That pizza slice is your share, or equity, of the company.

The difference between preferred and common stock

Beginner investors usually start out buying common stock, which allows for voting rights in a company. A disadvantage of common stock is that if the company goes bankrupt, you might be the last to be paid out of your share of the company. In some cases, investors don’t get their money back at all.

On the other hand, preferred stocks can grant higher dividends than common stocks and give an investor a higher chance of being paid out in the case of liquidation. Unfortunately, these stocks normally don’t allow for voting rights.

Types of stock

Aside from preferred and common stock, there are also other types of stock including:

  1. Individual stocks: Shares in individual companies
  2. Index funds: A basket of stocks that tracks a particular market index
  3. Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF): A type of pooled investment security that holds multiple underlying assets, rather than only one
  4. Mutual funds: A company that pools money from multiple investors and invests them in securities like stocks, bonds, gold and short-term debt


Investors don't deposit their money into a company and automatically make profit. Stockholders take on a certain level of risk for their investment - and it doesn't always pay off. For instance, companies may go bankrupt, or the market might crash. If that happens, then you could potentially lose your investment.

Alternatively, if the company’s capital increases, then you stand to make a sizeable profit.

How stocks can make more money than saving

Let's say that there is a person named Sam who wants to start investing his savings. Sam's goal is to make profit by putting away 30 euros every month. If Sam wants to reach this goal, he has two options.

The first is to open a savings account and deposit 30 euros of his income into the account every month. This means that, after 10 years, Sam will have accumulated 3.600 euros in his savings account. After 30 years, the amount will be 10.800 euros. However, the con is that, while savings accounts do accrue interest, the rate can be fairly low, depending on the bank.

The second option is to invest the money in a share of an Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF). This is a great option as ETFs offer low fees, easy management, and the ability to diversify your investments.

For example, investing in the iShares MSCI World ETF can yield - without the costs of the ETF itself - a valuable return of around 3,1 percent. This means that after 10 years, Sam will have accumulated 4.204,64 euros. After 30 years, the amount will have reached 17.653,29 euros. The reason that the value is higher is due to compound interest (the interest that you earn on interest).

Consult with a broker

Making your first investment can be an exciting experience, but you must be aware of the risk involved - especially at the beginning. That’s why consulting with a broker can come in handy for new investors. A broker is a person or institution that purchases and invests stocks on behalf of their investors. These brokers have knowledge regarding the stock market but can be costly and can vary in quality.

Fortunately, there are new types of online brokers - also known as neobrokers - who are revolutionising the stock market.

The advantages of an online broker

There are several reasons why you might prefer to work with an online broker, as opposed to a traditional one:

  • The transactions are quick and the fees generally low 
  • You have more control over your stocks
  • The entry barriers are lower 
  • It eliminates the need for an intermediary
  • You can track your stocks in real time 
  • You get access to a range of trading tools and information

Start your investment journey

Investing can be a thrilling and valuable next step in your financial journey. However, it's always important to stay informed and updated about the market and make sure you have disposable income to risk on stocks.

If you are looking to increase your savings safely, Scalable Capital is a leading European digital investment platform that helps budding investors to buy and manage their assets. Check out their FAQ section to learn more about investing with Scalable Capital.

The statements, comments and other content contained in this article, even if individual issuers or financial instruments are mentioned, are not to be construed as investment advice and do not constitute, directly or indirectly, a recommendation or solicitation to buy, hold or sell any financial instrument or any advice relating thereto.

Scalable Capital


Scalable Capital

Scalable Capital was founded in 2014 by Erik Podzuweit, Florian Prucker, Adam French and Prof. Dr. Stefan Mittnik. Our international team, which is based in Munich, Berlin and London, combines...

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