Ten On The Weekend

“Becoming Laotian, Cambodian, or Bangladeshi Isn’t for Everyone”: 10 On The Weekend With Reid Kirchenbauer

10 On The Weekend is a weekly (-ish) feature in IMI, the concept of which is simple: Each time, we ask the same ten questions of a different IMI Pro, letting readers get to know the interviewee on a more personal and informal level than they might during the ordinary course of business.

Our guest this week is Reid KirchenbauerFounder of InvestAsian

How do you spend your weekends?

Around this time of year, it’s all work and no play. While many of my colleagues work on the “citizenship” part of CBI, I focus almost exclusively on the investment side. 

That means year-end closing, dividends, appraisals, and annual reports. It’s a mad rush to finish everything by April. 

This summer, which is the rainy season here in Southeast Asia, I plan to learn the basics of Indonesian and catch up on some Netflix series. 

What are your top three business goals this year?

My primary business goal this year is to continue growing our assets under management. On the CBI side, a few niche programs in Asia are finding an audience, and my second goal is to continue expanding in that area.

We’ve spent a fair amount of time on the ground learning how to facilitate some relatively obscure programs. Becoming Laotian, Cambodian, or Bangladeshi isn’t for everyone, but these citizenships offer unique perks.

I call these types of programs “citizenship for investment” because, while they’re not ideal for travel purposes, being a citizen provides local access to a high-growth market. 

For example, investing in Bangladesh’s stock or real estate market is practically impossible for a foreigner. If you become a citizen, though, you can invest on the same terms as any other Bangladeshi. The main goal, rather than global mobility, is to make an optimal investment in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

Besides these niche programs in Asia’s frontier markets, proper scaling and human resources are crucial to any growing business. We’ve spent a great deal of time hiring, training, and maintaining talent, and I would say our third goal is to maintain that momentum.

What’s your biggest business concern right now?

High interest rates affect demand for almost all discretionary goods. And yes, despite how important it is to diversify abroad, passports and alternative investments still count as discretionary. 

Getting a 3% loan from your home country to finance that property in Spain or Istanbul is impossible. We could question the merit of borrowing for a CBI program, but it doesn’t change the fact that people commonly took on debt for large purchases until recently. 

Perhaps a continued desire among UHNWIs will continue to drive demand for passports and uncorrelated investments. The wealthy are less affected in cases like these, but not entirely so.

Which book is on your nightstand right now?

Choose Your Enemies Wisely, by Patrick Bet David. 

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How and when did you first get into the investment migration industry?

I signed the contract for my first condo in Thailand in 2009 – when I was 18 years old. Over the years, I added to this real estate portfolio to qualify for a Thai investment visa.

While it wasn’t as a service provider yet, this did mark the beginning of my “investment migration journey” at a time when immigration by investment wasn’t as widely discussed as it is now. The various methods to establish residence/citizenship in different countries have always intrigued me. 

Back then, I wasn’t doing it for any other reason besides wanting to live in Thailand. The concept of immigration investment for the sake of wealth diversification drew me into the industry as a whole, though.

What was your proudest moment as a service provider?

Regarding visas and migration in particular, one of my proudest and most intense moments was figuring out how to get myself and three other people into Cambodia back in May 2020. It was not an easy time to travel by any means.

I was outside the country and needed to return to Cambodia to make some deals, but flying anywhere was nearly impossible at that time, let alone from the US to Asia!

Long story short, I solved the problem with a lot of paperwork, a test, and an entry permit that was facilitated in the parking lot of the General Consul in Long Beach.

Which investment migration market development has surprised you the most in the last year?

The recent demand for CBI services in Vietnam has especially taken me by surprise. Globally-minded Vietnamese understand the need for a second passport even more than nationals of wealthier countries in Southeast Asia, such as Thailand.

Now that the trend is clear, though, I wouldn’t be shocked at all if nearby countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, and Cambodia followed suit.

If you could go ten years back in time, what business decision would you change?

I would have gotten an investment residence in Hong Kong for well below $1.5 million, which is the current threshold after the program tripled in price recently. 

What investment migration industry personality do you most admire?

Andrew Henderson helped a great deal when I started out in this industry. He has an incredible work ethic and focus.

If all goes according to plan, what will you be doing five years from now?

The plan is to continue growing the main Khmer Ventures fund, along with a few other private projects on behalf of institutional investors. 

Managing assets in frontier markets is my specialty, and that’s what I’ll stick with. I love going to countries that have great investment potential – but not much accessibility – and figuring out how to maximize profit by breaking down their entry barriers.

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