With Brian Greco
With an eye to the changing world order, Brian Greco explores how individuals can get and keep global access.
The world has been gripped today with one story: Ukraine and Russia. As of this writing, tensions that have been mounting have come to a head—with armed conflict breaking out not only across the Ukraine-Russia border regions but also in the capital of Kyiv.
Images not seen on European soil in decades – and well over half a century in Western Europe – are appearing in the news cycle, raising questions around the certainty of individual safety on the continent and globally.
The purpose of this article is not to journalistically recount the chronology of events nor to debate the moral implications that are central to any conflict. I will leave that for the news media and political commentators to debate.
The purpose of this article is to understand the “need-to-know” considerations of how IM firms can respond intelligently to the serious market changes that will ensue in the wake of this unfolding conflict.
Consideration #1: The investment migration industry is anti-fragile; it grows from chaos.
IMI’s editor argued in 2017 that investment migration is an anti-fragile business. I have been meaning to revisit this concept in light of current events, and there is no more apropos day to do so than today.
What does anti-fragility mean? It means that the system – in our case, the system that provides alternative residencies and citizenships for people that need them – gains from disorder. It means that shocks and blows make the system stronger.
Insurance is the classical example of an anti-fragile business. The more danger there is to insure against, the more demand there is for insurance.
The asset of sovereignty and security is in shorter and shorter supply by the day. Anti-fragile economic thinking asks: In times of crisis, is it more or less desirable to have a backup plan to achieve those freedoms—and what will the individual do to achieve them?
Investment migration professionals need to understand that the current situation in Ukraine and Russia – and the chaotic pressure it places on banking, immigration, and geopolitical systems – strikes at the heart of why this industry exists in the first place.
Preparing for uncertainty is the very essence of this industry.
Consideration #2 – This conflict changes the illusion of European “stability”—and may be indicative of more instability to come globally
Whatever your politics, whatever your reasoning, the hard reality is this: The post-2020 world order has ushered in a level of instability that has not been witnessed globally since the end of WWII.
Today’s news challenges all prior assumptions that “it couldn’t happen here”. The European conceit that the continent singlehandedly bears the torch of stability, security, and maturity is fraying. Countries like Turkey, which live in the in-between, stand to benefit greatly from this situation. My persistent support for the Turkish Citizenship by Investment program, which has appeared far-fetched to some of you, is looking more reasonable by the minute.
Larger, less Western, less traditional choices for investment migration have a place in the savvy investor’s diversified portfolio. See: What’s So Great about the Schengen Area?
Moreover, many from the Middle East may sigh at today’s media frenzy, noting that the story seems only to take first place in the media because the focus, this time, is the West, as war continues to unnecessarily ravage areas such as Syria and Yemen, largely beyond the attention of the global press.
But Ukraine? Europe? My backyard? Now that’s a different story. The embarrassing exit by US troops in Afghanistan just last summer symbolized the end of Pax Americana, and the Ukraine-Russia situation puts the icing on that cake. The dynamics of NATO and its Cold War relics are being put to the test. Not far away, rumblings of Mainland Chinese influence clashing with Taiwan, or continuing to drastically transform the landscape of Asia’s former “World City”, Hong Kong, ring through our minds.
We now live in a multipolar world. The US is keeping a comparatively low profile. The former global police, who subsidized the world’s trade throughout the end of the 20th century, is off duty. Whether one laments or celebrates this, the point here is how and why it affects this marketplace.
We are witnessing a taste of the world that new investment migrants will be entering when they begin to make their next investment decision. Visa-free travel is dead; the new questions are about where you can go, where you can stay, and where you can turn to in a more chaotic world.
Consideration #3. Investment migration frees the individual to make other choices
Why is this news absolutely critical for the investment migration professional? Because not only will the Ukraine-Russia conflict immediately affect the dynamics of the European continent and its allies; it will also set a precedent that will carry the industry into the next several years.
The disheartened IM professional might say: ”People won’t travel”, “the markets will crash”, “customers will be hesitant to spend”. Is it really true? I think the reality on the ground after COVID tells another story. Chaos means the business can grow stronger and it also means there is no longer a need to generate demand for backup plans.
Let me be clear: This is not about profiting purposely and unscrupulously off of chaos. This is about providing an alternative to the individual to get out of chaos. The ability to have a second citizenship – to unconditionally be able to access another jurisdiction, or simply a residency there – can mean more than ever to individuals across the world.
Let’s start taking the critical role that the services we offer can play in our customers’ lives more seriously. IM can form the basis of critical life decisions in times of crisis. IM is not just about luxury living, tax strategy, or visa-free travel – though those things are all great. IM is about the ability to respond to crisis and the freedom to choose.
Brian Greco is a traveler, cultural explorer, and advocate of free movement and the investment migration industry based in Istanbul, Turkey. Originally from the USA, Brian has a background in globalization studies at New York University and experience living in Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and traveling solo to more than 75 countries. He focuses on investigating and promoting new possibilities for expanding lifestyles in global cities, especially in frontier markets. Brian is a believer in the power of discovering the lesser-known path in life and using travel as a tool for personal growth.