Goldman Sachs Directors Top London’s Bonus League

Goldman Sachs Directors Top London’s Bonus League

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. bankers got the biggest bonuses in London this year with an average payout of 194,000 pounds ($299,000), 24,000 pounds more than second-ranking Morgan Stanley, according to
Bank of America Corp. ranked third among the 15 investment banks, paying mid-level bankers, ranking below managing directors, an average bonus of 166,000 pounds, the salary benchmarking site said in a statement on Wednesday. Credit Suisse Group SA’s 135,000-pound average bonus made it the most generous European bank in sixth place, while ING Groep NV and Societe Generale SA ranked last, paying 91,000 pounds.

London’s dealmakers have seen their bonuses squeezed after European Union lawmakers capped variable pay at twice salary, adopting the world’s toughest bonus rules in a bid to tackle a gambling culture blamed for contributing to the 2008 financial crisis. Britain was home to 2,188 investment bankers earning more than 1 million euros ($1.1 million) in 2012, the most in the EU, according to the most recent data from the European Banking Authority.
We expect to see base salaries shoot up in order to circumvent bonus cap regulations, especially at director and managing-director level where employees expect to see their total compensation increase substantially from previous titles,” Alice Leguay, co-founder and chief operating officer at Emolument, said in the statement.

Happiest Bankers
Although JPMorgan Chase & Co. ranked fourth in awarding bonuses, the U.S. bank is the most generous when it comes to overall compensation including salary, Emolument said. The benchmarking firm surveyed 189 front-office directors working in London’s investment banks, according to the statement.
“In most cases, banks that give the biggest bonuses are also the ones offering best salaries to their bankers,” Emolument said in the statement.
Morgan Stanley bankers said they’re happiest with their bonuses of any firm in the city, while those at BNP Paribas SA considered themselves the most underpaid, according to a separate Emolument survey earlier this month.
The following is a table of bonuses in 2015:
Bank Bonus

Goldman Sachs GBP194,000

Morgan Stanley GBP170,000

Bank of America Merrill Lynch GBP166,000

JPMorgan GBP162,000

Citigroup GBP143,000

Credit Suisse GBP135,000

Deutsche Bank GBP121,000

Nomura GBP119,000

HSBC GBP116,000

UBS GBP115,000

BNP Paribas GBP113,000

Barclays GBP103,000

UniCredit GBP98,000

ING GBP91,000

Societe Generale GBP91,000

London Bonuses


Ready or Not, Here Comes Retail IoT

Ready or Not, Here Comes Retail IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) is coming to retail, so get ready. Digital devices (i.e., Things) are poised to revolutionize everything from inventory management to hypertargeted marketing.
IoT-enabled smart shelving will lend a whole new meaning to the term “shelf life,” bringing retail shelves to life by allowing the dynamic changing of prices and the taking of inventory to trigger restocking when needed.
Smart signs can adapt their offerings to suit the customer’s mood or to compete with a store down the road. Location analytics tools can help retailers target customers for preferential treatment. Remote body scanners will even measure customers for suits from their own homes. And feedback from smart devices can help retailers predict and avoid product breakdowns.
This isn’t science fiction. The key to leveraging IoT for retail sales is the ability to connect, sense, correlate and automate in order to add value by increasing intelligence and reducing manual effort.

One of the most powerful retail IoT ideas is electronic shelf labels. Shelf labels can change prices dynamically, but also read passing foot traffic to determine whether the product placement is attracting enough passers-by. If there isn’t enough passing traffic or the prices are too high, the product could be repriced on the spot and/or promoted via Wi-Fi.
According to a survey by independent market research firm Vanson Bourne, 72 percent of respondents believe it’s a significant advantage to be able to price products and services based upon dynamic factors such as changes in competitor prices or activities. The electronic shelf label is an obvious solution.
IoT is changing the retail clothing world with the introduction of sensor-enabled body scanners. Webcams on your laptop will help you order off-the-peg jeans that fit like a glove. Photo booth-style 3-D scanners in airports or train stations will measure you and order bespoke suits sharp enough to please James Bond.
To take this further into the realm of IoT, it can be a webcam that scans you and takes your measurements. Looking to the future, maybe we can all be measured by drones flying over us at the mall. That way we know exactly what size to look for when we go to any store that communicates with the drone.
In brick-and-mortar stores, retailers are trying to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere by using smart signs that can adapt their offerings to suit the customer’s mood.
Enriched with sensors, the smart sign leverages IoT to create bespoke content. Smart signs tailor their content based on real-time analysis of multiple video streams, which include face detection technology. They provide demographic information about viewers, such as age and gender. Facial detection reveals mood. Is your customer grumpy? Happy?
The demographic information is combined with other real-time data such as weather (is it cold outside?) as well as your internal inventory and campaign goals. Then the advertisements can be highly targeted to maximize customer response and generate loyalty.
Going a step further, the IoT is making it possible to spot and deal with unhappy customers as early as possible in order to make them feel special. For example, if an airline can identify a diamond-tier passenger who has been waiting to check in for 10 minutes, the manager can head off his unhappiness by offering a “fast track” check in.
Location analytics tools give you a better understanding of how your customers move through your stores. By analyzing customer paths through a retail store you can optimize your layout and product placements. Combining this capability with predictive models, you can proactively redeploy staff to address bottlenecks and avoid queues before they happen.
In the brave new world to attain loyalty, you must treat your customers like royalty. Using the IoT and location analytics in particular puts the power firmly in your hands.

Efficient Inefficiency: The Oxymoron That Explains the Investing World

Efficient Inefficiency: The Oxymoron That Explains the Investing World

From now on, there are two kinds of investors: the efficiently inefficient ones and the merely inefficient ones who didn’t read this book. Darn, that would’ve been a great blurb for the dust cover!

In writing the foreword to a very good book by Antti Ilmanen (before he joined our firm) I mentioned that I had two options: I could kill Antti to prevent him giving so much good stuff away, or I could praise his book. I chose to praise. Now another outstanding Nordic researcher (and AQR partner), Lasse Heje Pedersen, presents me with the same dilemma: His new book, Efficiently Inefficient (Princeton University Press), is fantastic — almost too good at laying out how successful professional asset managers think and act. Lasse is Danish, Antti is Finnish. I’m not saying there’s a connection. But I’m not saying there isn’t, either. Anyway, I have decided to continue my policy of nonviolence and hope I don’t regret it. We actually have one other Danish partner; if he writes a similarly too-good-reveal-too-much book, all bets are off…

For me, a good book is one that speaks to something important and that causes me to think differently and more clearly about the chosen topic. Lasse has written just such a book.

Although perhaps at first glance the phrase “efficiently inefficient” may seem paradoxical, even tortured, it is anything but. Upon diving into the book, the essence of the title (and the book) crystallize. The phrase “efficiently inefficient” combines the notion of efficient markets — the idea that prices reflect all relevant information at all times — with its opposite, inefficient markets — the idea that market prices are significantly influenced by investor irrationality and market frictions. When fused together, “efficiently inefficient” arrives at the idea that perhaps markets are, on average (it’s always about averages, exceptions will always abound) just inefficient enough to compensate managers and investors for their costs and risks, but not more inefficient than that. Furthermore, this isn’t just a random fortuitous occurrence but the one we should’ve expected from the get-go. Efficiently inefficient is the real world, it is the one in which investors live day to day. A world where competition within the investment profession results in markets that are almost efficient, but certain inefficiencies exist that may reward those for selectively taking risk and absorbing the associated costs of doing so. Lasse gives us a unique framework for understanding, and effectively navigating, such a world.

He tackles this daunting task with a two-pronged approach. He first identifies and explains a roster of economically intuitive, historically effective, practically relevant investment strategies. He then brings these classic strategies to life through interviews with sophisticated pioneers (full disclosure, I am one of his less-sophisticated subjects) who have successfully developed and implemented those approaches. Equally impressive is the range of strategies illuminated— equities (fundamental, short-biased and quantitative), global macro, managed futures and arbitrage (fixed income, convertibles and event-driven). And so, as a good book must do, Lasse brings great clarity to these active approaches; the economic basis and rationale for their existence as well as the specific return drivers behind them that facilitates harvesting the excess returns. The backdrop throughout is a market environment with efficiently inefficient prices.

Lasse gives specific examples where the tools of empirical finance (also described in the book) can be applied in a variety of settings. A particularly fun application for me is when Lasse turns his attention to Warren Buffett. The question of how Buffett has performed so magnificently for so long is a perennial mystery. The book discusses how Buffett’s returns can be explained (explained, not minimized; by no means does Lasse imply becoming one of the world’s richest men is easy!) by his preference for cheap, safe, high-quality stocks combined with a persistent use of modest leverage (also the subject of a paper, “Buffett’s Alpha,” written by Lasse and AQR coauthors). Readers will undoubtedly be inspired to research and uncover their own favorite applications for the techniques described.


The new era for the Chinese yuan.

The new era for the Chinese yuan.

“For more than a decade, China’s taken a verbal beating from other countries for keeping its currency unfairly cheap. Those days might finally be over. The yuan (a.k.a. the renminbi) is no longer undervalued, the International Monetary Fund’s Markus Rodlauer said earlier today, while also urging Chinese leaders to allow the currency to trade more freely.”

“On the external side, China has made good progress in recent years in reducing the very large current account surplus and accumulation of foreign exchange reserves. Nevertheless, staff projections for 2015 suggest that China’s external position is still moderately stronger than consistent with medium-term fundamentals and desirable policies. There are several factors influencing a country’s external position, with the exchange rate being one of them. While undervaluation of the Renminbi was a major factor causing the large imbalances in the past, our assessment now is that the substantial real effective appreciation over the past year has brought the exchange rate to a level that is no longer undervalued. However, the still-too-strong external position highlights the need for other policy reforms—which are indeed part of the authorities’ agenda—to reduce excess savings and achieve sustained external balance. This will also require that, going forward, the exchange rate adjusts with changes in fundamentals and, for example, appreciates in line with faster productivity growth in China (relative to its trading partners). On the exchange rate system, we urge the authorities to make rapid progress toward greater exchange rate flexibility, a key requirement for a large economy like China’s that strives for market-based pricing and is integrating rapidly in global financial markets. Greater flexibility, with intervention limited to avoiding disorderly market conditions or excessive volatility, will also be key to prevent the exchange rate from moving away from equilibrium in the future. We believe that China should aim to achieve an effectively floating exchange rate within 2–3 years.




Amazon pays $16 million tax in Germany, while making $11.9 billion sales

Amazon had a tiny German tax bill.

The online retailer paid Germany $16 million in taxes while generating $11.9 billion in sales in 2014, because it routed most of its revenue through Luxembourg. Under pressure from EU authorities, Amazon said last week it has now started reporting income on a country-by-country basis.

“Corporate tax is based on profits, not revenues. E-commerce is a low-margin business and highly competitive, and Amazon continues to invest heavily around the world, which means our profits are low,” an spokesman said.

The company said last week it had introduced changes in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and Italy from May 1, so that future sales would be booked in these countries.

Tax experts said the new arrangement could require Amazon to pay more tax in future years.

Tax avoidance has become a sore point with the electorate in many countries, including France and the Britain. It was a major issue at the most recent UK election, and all the main parties promised to crack down on both corporations and individuals diverting money into offshore accounts and places with more lenient tax regimes. France has opened investigations into several companies, including Google, for their tax behavior.

A box from is pictured on the porch of a house in Golden, Colorado July 23, 2008. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/Files


MALTA get place number 6 in the International Living’s Retirement Index 2015: the World’s 10 Best Retirement Havens.

MALTA get place number 6 in the International Living’s Retirement Index 2015: the World’s 10 Best Retirement Havens…….  in a US driven rank

It's time to reclaim your retirement dreams...

MALTAway is your full service solutions’ provider to assist you to move from your country to MaltaAn International Living special report

International Living’s
2015 Retirement Index

The World’s Top 10 Retirement Havens

With spiraling costs compelling more and more North Americans to retire overseas, retiring abroad has never been more attractive. But finding the right location among the myriad options available can be daunting.

That’s what our Annual Global Retirement Index does. Using input from our team of correspondents on the ground all over the world, we combine real-world insights about climate, health care, cost of living, and much more to draw up a comprehensive list of the best bang-for-your buck retirement destinations on the planet.

Keep in mind that, even though only 25 countries feature on our list, all of them are worth your attention. We selected them from among all the countries in the world for their qualities as retirement hot-spots, so even the lowest-ranked nation on our index is still very much an option worth considering.

Take into account, too, that ultimately no list or formula can automatically deliver the best destination for you. Only you can decide that. Only you can assess your personal preferences, needs, budget, and desires, and look at the options available to see which nation best suits your needs.

Are you an urbanite or do you prefer the wide-open spaces? Would you prefer a tropical climate with year-round sun or more temperate weather that reminds you of home? Would you rather live by the sea or on a mountainside? Sample the exotic delights of Asia or explore the rich cultural heritage of Latin America?

Only you can make these calls. In assembling this index, we aim to deliver an in-depth guide to the best countries available to you today. It’s been compiled using the solid judgment and on-the-ground intelligence of our correspondents around the world. All of them are expats who have become experts on their adopted countries. Through their insight, we hope to give you an indication of the relative strengths and weaknesses of each locale and a flavor of the life that could await you in each. That way you can focus your own search in a well-informed way.

We’re constantly looking to improve and refine our annual Retirement Index. On top of having access to a larger network of correspondents than ever before, this year we required more (and more detailed) input from the field to make this year’s results the most comprehensive to date. As a result, for instance, Vietnam is included this year for the first time, in recognition of the opportunities we’ve uncovered there for North American expats within the last year.

Where in the world is the best place to retire? Mexico? France? Thailand? Maybe, Malta…or Ecuador? The list of possibilities is endless. And it is all, of course, based on personal preference. One man’s paradise can be another man’s hell.

We here at International Living have been in the business of scouring the globe for the best retirement destinations for over 30 years. We know a good retirement location when we see one. And that’s where we’d like to help you.

The world is always changing. And opportunity shows itself in new places all the time. That’s why every year we take stock of the climate, cost of living, safety, infrastructure, accessibility of health care, and more, to compile our Annual Global Retirement Index.We look specifically at the best opportunities worldwide for retirement living.

How does International Living determine its rankings? IL editors compile, weigh, rank, and rate a series of criteria including cost of living, infrastructure, health care, ease of integration, real estate, special benefits, climate, etc. This is a qualitative assessment based on real-world data gathered on the ground.

In this report we give you our top 10 Retirement Havens and the reasons why we think these are the best places to consider if you are planning a retirement overseas.

Follow this link to find out how International Living can help you find your top retirement haven and live a happier, healthier life today.

#10: Thailand

Picture yourself wandering through gilded temples…exploring Bangkok’s hidden canals by long-tail boat…riding an elephant down jungle trails…meeting Hmong hill-tribe villagers, and treasure-hunting for hand-loomed silk, teakwood carvings, and exotic curios—all at a fraction of the price you’d pay back home.

Now let’s spin the kaleidoscope to white-sand beaches, swaying coconut palms, and an evening chorus of cicadas. Rising from jade and turquoise waters are scenes from an oriental fairy tale: a myriad of islands girdled by coral gardens…bizarre limestone outcrops smothered in spinach-green vegetation…incredible sunsets with a slow-burning sun dipping into the sea like a giant red lantern.

Thailand has a lot of options. Some foreign retirees choose to live in the hubbub atmosphere of Bangkok. Some live in the north of Thailand where life is quiet, peaceful, and very inexpensive. Others choose the south for its beautiful beaches.

Living in Thailand is unbelievably cheap. There are many places where you can dine well and still leave the table with change from $5. In fact, go north, and you’ll also find that 20-baht noodle stalls still exist—that’s just 60 cents!

You can rent a really nice place just about anywhere in the country for just $500 a month. We know of one expat who pays $222 a month for his beachside bungalow with air conditioning, hot water, and Wi-Fi. A full check-up in a modern hospital by an American-trained doctor will cost you less than $40.

#9: Portugal

One of the smallest countries in Europe, Portugal is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. Many fall in love with this little country due to its near flawless weather, abundance of golf and water sports, and superb fresh food.

The relatively low cost of living is also a big draw for those who choose to live in Portugal—compared with other European nations, goods and services are still bargains. The locals are warm and welcoming to foreigners making living here very enjoyable.

If your dream European retreat includes golden sand beaches…almond groves…picturesque castles…and little frontier towns on wooded hilltops then Portugal is the place for you. Slumbering abbeys, pilgrim shrines, and ancient castle towns are dotted inland while traditional fishing towns of narrow alleys and old houses stand proudly on the coast.

A two-bedroom house on The Silver Coast can be bought for $96,000 while the same price could get you a three-bedroom house with a yard among the olive groves and vineyards of Alentejo. Rental properties vary in price from $190 to $918 per month depending on where you are in the country. In cosmopolitan Lisbon expect to pay on average $900 for a one-bedroom property, while in the small town of Estremoz $200 will get you a two-bedroom home.

Living in Portugal is relatively cheap compared to its European counterparts. Utilities usually run from between $110 and $150 a month including water and garbage. You can still get a coffee for 75 cents and a three-course meal at lunchtime, often with a carafe of table wine, will cost around $12.

Romance, culture, and adventure awaits you in your ideal spot in Portugal.

#8: Colombia

Located at the tip of South America, Colombia is where the Pacific and the Caribbean collide with the Andes and the Amazon. It’s a country that is more beautiful, dramatic, and diverse than nearly any other. It offers sparkling colonial cities in the highlands and world-famous (and safe) resorts along the Caribbean. Cartagena, a walled colonial city on those turquoise shores, is one of Spanish America’s most beautiful enclaves.

What’s more, Colombia boasts beautiful areas where the cost of living is the lowest you’ll find anywhere in South America. Just three hours from Miami, Colombia welcomes non-stop flights into Bogota, Medellin, and Cartagena.

Colombia has a lot to offer International Living readers. Critical things—like low cost of living, inexpensive properties, and a colorful and diverse culture. There isn’t a single segment of the IL membership concerned with climate, culture, and lifestyle that couldn’t find their niche in Colombia.

Colombia offers something that will appeal to just about everyone. And you’ll find that Colombia is a more-developed country than most in Latin America, with the infrastructure, modern products, and services you’d expect in a country on the move.

Colombia can offer you a sophisticated, modern, urban scene or a cabin in a remote section of desert…a colonial walled city by the sea, or a sleepy Caribbean beachside town…spring-like weather high in the Andes, steamy tropics, or the “perfect” weather in between…North American enclaves or indigenous outposts. Unless you’ve got your heart set on snow, you’re almost certain to find your ideal spot in Colombia.

#7: Spain

Picture a sun-drenched, white house with a shady courtyard, perched on a cliff-top site in Spain. With the deep blue sea beyond and an olive grove nearby, it’s the stuff of which fantasies are made.

Beaches…mountains…fabulous cities…cracking festivals, and, of course, guaranteed sunshine. It’s not surprising that Spain is the most popular country for Europeans seeking a home overseas.

First, there’s the culture. From the Neolithic cave paintings at Altamira to the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Visigoths, and Moors, Spain’s roots are rich and multi-layered. In Spain you’ll find stone hamlets clinging to the Pyrenees’ green slopes, sun-baked villages in La Mancha—Don Quijote’s territory— cheerful seaside towns, and dreamy Moorish palaces. The food and wine are superb, there is a fiesta someplace every day, and siesta (with a long, leisurely lunch preceding it) is still a custom.

Many retirees flock to southern Spain’s beach towns. The Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol have large expat communities—and English-speaking services that cater to them. English isn’t widely spoken in all of Spain’s 17 regions—but you can manage with only a smattering of Spanish in many resort towns along “the Costas.”

And these towns are a great jumping-off point for exploring the rest of the country, one of Europe’s largest and most diverse: Madrid, with its world-class museums; the vast interior, with its endless plains, sun-baked villages, and spirit of Don Quijote; and northern Spain, with its rolling green mountains and rocky coast.

Northern Spain is famous for the pilgrim route, the Camino de Santiago, as well as being one of Ernest Hemmingway’s favorite European haunts. This part of Spain has a lot to offer—the stunning Pyrenees, the beaches of the Basque country, bull running in Pamplona, and a quality and cost of living that is near impossible to beat. This is also Spain’s wine country, so if you enjoy the odd tipple, you’ll be in heaven here.


Don’t be embarrassed if you can’t pinpoint Malta on a map. It’s not on everyone’s radar, and mostly unheard of by Americans. Malta is anchored almost in the center of the Mediterranean Sea, 60 miles from the Italian island of Sicily, which is linked to Malta by a regular 90-minute ferry service. There is a modern airport at Luqa (on Malta) with flights to numerous other European countries. Rome is just one hour away by plane.

The Republic of Malta isn’t a solitary island, but an archipelago of three islands and three islets. Not surprisingly, the names of the islets mean nothing to most people, as they are little more than rocks in the ocean. (In case you’re wondering, they’re called Filfla, St. Paul’s Island, and Cominotto.) Filfla was used for target practice by the British navy, so it is probably even smaller than it used to be. While Comino is classified as one of the three islands in the Maltese archipelago proper, it is also minuscule: just a few square miles in size and home to just one summer-season hotel and five farming families. However, there are 31,000 people living on the green and rural island of Gozo. This island is one of the best-kept secrets in the Mediterranean, a place where time really does seem to have stood still.

Until independence was granted in 1964, Malta had been a British colony for 150 years. Many trappings of the Empire remain: scarlet phone-boxes, blue-lamp police stations, pillar-boxes bearing Queen Victoria’s insignia, cricket and bowling clubs, café s serving warm beer and roast beef dinners, troops of neatly dressed boy scouts, driving on the left-hand side of the road…

And there’s no language barrier here. Just about everybody on Malta speaks English as well as Maltese . Both are official languages. Similar to Arabic, but written in the Latin script, Maltese is a Semitic language. It also embraces bits of French and Italian.

#5:Costa Rica

If you’re ready for la pura vida, “the pure life,” you might want to consider a Costa Rican retirement. This country of just over 4 million is tucked between Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east.

Costa Rica has a lot going for it…it’s a nature-lover’s dream, with green-carpeted mountains, oh-wow volcanoes, and that blue, blue ocean.

It’s got top-quality, affordable health care and is known as one of Latin America’s most peaceful nations (it has enjoyed over 60 years of uninterrupted democratic rule). Costa Rica has a wide variety of inexpensive housing, along with a wealth of every imaginable activity to keep you busy and happy.

Long stretches of deserted and undeveloped beaches, on the Caribbean and Pacific Coasts…dense jungles teeming with exotic wildlife…towering volcanoes, lush green valleys, and hundreds of crystal-clear lakes, rivers, streams, and waterfalls…mesmerizing sunrises, sunsets, and star-filled evening skies…all these things, and much more, are drawing people to Costa Rica.

Columbus called Costa Rica “the rich coast”—and it still is, with Caribbean beaches and Pacific shoreline that’ll take your breath away. But this nation has much more to offer, too: a year-round tropical climate, modern cities, rainforests, lush valleys and majestic mountains.

With its slower pace of living, warm, welcoming climate, healthy, fresh foods and reputation as one of the “greenest, cleanest” countries in the world it’s no wonder Costa Ricans are considered among the “happiest people on the planet.”


Conjuring up all the mysteries of Asia, Malaysia is a former British colony. The sultans, head-hunters, pirates, and gin-swilling English rubber planters of the Victorian age have long since gone, but the country remains as colorful as ever. Beyond the lofty skyscrapers of the capital, Kuala Lumpur, its dramatic canvas is embroidered with tropical beaches, mountains, dense rainforest, and vividly green tea plantations.

Influences from across Asia and beyond have melded together here to create an extraordinary cross-cultural melting pot of customs, dress, architecture, and cuisine. Along with foreign expats from around the globe, the country is home to Malay Malays, Chinese Malays, Hindu Malays, and Sikh Malays.

The country’s diverse ethnic mix makes being a stranger here easy. Whether you live in bohemian Penang or Kuala Lumpur, the country’s hip capital, you’ll meet friendly locals who are happy to stop and chat and welcome you into their home. People are accepting, just ask the international mix of expats all on the same journey as you, and happy to share.

You certainly won’t go short of anything in Kuala Lumpur (KL), or the other popular expat hangout, Penang Island. Malaysia has both public and private health care with medical expertise on a par with western countries. Most hospitals and health care facilities are staffed by English speaking professionals with international qualifications. Internet coverage here is on a par with services in France and Italy…the cost of living is cheap and it’s easy to live here (English is widely spoken). And with some of the world’s most stunning white-sand beaches, there’s a lot of like about Malaysia.

#3: Mexico

With its moon-lit fiestas, languid white-sand beaches, ancient colonial towns set in the rugged Sierras…Maya pyramids rising from the misty Yucatan jungle…little silver mining towns where the winding streets seem to run straight up into the clouds…weekly markets where just a few dollars can fill your shopping bag to the brim with fresh fruits and vegetables…fishing villages where the boats land in the morning with the giant snapper you’ll have for lunch, sautéed with garlic or simmered in a Diablo sauce that will make you call out for another ice-cold cerveza. Or buy the whole fish right off the boat for a few bucks (plus the 50 cents you pay the fisherman’s son to carry it home for you) and cook it yourself.

It’s no wonder so many retirees are starting new lives in Mexico.

Whether your vision of the ideal retirement involves shopping, fishing, sunbathing, diving, biking, mountain climbing, parasailing, collecting crafts, visiting archeological sites, partying, going to concerts, attending the theater, or fine dining in Mexico has all of these activities, and more.

Stately Spanish colonial cities in Mexico are steeped in tradition, and soaring baroque church spires overlook gracious squares. Here you can dine in elegant cafés, and browse upscale shops on the very spots where the heroes of the Revolution declared independence from Spain and forged a new country. For all these reasons, and many more, Mexico is one of the world’s top destinations for those dreaming of a relaxed and romantic new life abroad.

Wherever you go in Mexico, the people will charm you, the natural beauty will seduce you, and the remarkably affordable cost of living will entice you to stay.

Whether your dream retreat is a graceful colonial home with lavish gardens, a simple beachfront bungalow where you can prop up your feet on the rail and watch the tide roll in, an expansive hacienda with enough acreage for horses to roam, or a cliff side villa with sunset views and cool, steady breezes, you are likely to find it in Mexico.

Whatever your motives for settling in Mexico—whether you hope to escape the fast pace of life up north, enjoy a better lifestyle for less than you’d pay at home, or discover a safe haven where the crime rate is low and you can enjoy a “small-town” existence—you’re likely to find your quality of life improved in this country.

#2: Panama

When it comes to attractive retirement destinations, Panama is at the top of our list. It’s the only country in Central America with a true First World city. But unlike most South American capitals, Panama City is only two-and a-half hours by plane from Miami. (And let’s not forget that, unlike some places closer to the U.S. border, Panama is hurricane free).

No matter your taste in lifestyle, Panama has something to suit you. You could choose to live in a sleepy mountain town…or by a tropical beach listening to the calls of parrots and toucans. You could take in a play, see an opera, or sample the finest cuisines in a First-World, culture-rich capital city…or tend to your own organic farm in a little rural village…

The best part is, wherever you choose to live in Panama, a change of scenery is always on your doorstep, should you want it. Though it’s smaller than South Carolina, Panama packs a surprisingly large variety of landscapes into one tiny country.

Panama offers a very comfortable retirement solution, in part because the nation is much more developed than most visitors expect. Many are shocked by the modernity of Panama and the clusters of skyscrapers that define Panama City’s skyline. All of the amenities one could wish for are readily available.

In Panama, you will enjoy the benefits of a developing economy where you can still take a taxi across town for a buck or two, get your haircut for a couple of dollars, or enjoy dinner for two with a bottle of wine at one of the finest restaurants in Panama City for a mere $40. There are also lots of activities for you to enjoy, from jazz clubs to art openings to English-language theater performances. You may be wondering what you will do when you retire…but in Panama, you will never find yourself bored.

Outside the city you will find the true treasures of Panama. There are beautiful beaches everywhere, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Pacific on the other. But there’s more to Panama than a sophisticated city and gorgeous beaches. There are rolling green tropical mountains, fertile farmlands, lush rainforests, and small towns where foreign visitors are made to feel like family. There truly is something for everyone in Panama.

Panama is safe, stable, and friendly. And it boasts the best health care and infrastructure in Central America. But these are only the bold headlines. As you take time to learn more about Panama, you’ll find it keeps looking better and better. Its climate is unrivalled in the world, with tropical rain forests, temperate mountains, and warm, tropical white- sand beaches. Its wildlife is abundant, with most of the bird species in North America, and its pristine natural setting is an eco-tourist’s dream. No wonder that the Smithsonian’s Tropical Research Center is located in Barrio Colorado.

And then there’s the country’s famed Pensionado Program, which helped put Panama on the map as a retirement destination in the first place. Regardless of age, you just need a government or corporate pension of at least $1,000 per month and residence here is yours. This government-backed program will virtually pay for your retirement. It helps subsidize your hospital visits and medicine, sales tax on your car, and property tax on your house. It provides for heavily discounted travel. Your food is cheaper in restaurants and so are your hotel stays and theatre tickets.

And the winner is…..

#1: Ecuador

From snow-capped volcanoes to dense Amazon jungle…sun-drenched Pacific beaches to the famous Galapagos Islands, Ecuador offers something for everyone and at prices unheard of for years in North America and Europe. Whether you want to live, invest, vacation, retire, or simply relax in Ecuador, you’ll find the perfect combination of climate, culture, and affordability to make your dreams come true.

In Ecuador the weather is always perfect…about 77º F during the day and 50º F at night. In a single day’s drive, you can go from a sophisticated city with true cultural appeal to a tranquil pine-studded mountain hideaway…or an alpine retreat where you can bask in warm thermal waters under a starlit sky…or lush rainforest jungles full of exotically colored birds and flowers…or pristine beaches where the only footprints are yours.

It’s hard to pinpoint the best reason for coming to Ecuador. Its breathtaking natural beauty is certainly a huge draw. But the real clincher for most people is that it is an incredibly affordable place to live. Whether you decide to live in the bustling capital of Quito, the pretty expat favorite of Cuenca, or on the shores of the Pacific in one of the country’s many beach towns, you’ll find that your money will go a lot further than it does at home.

There are so many benefits to living in Ecuador…low cost of living but with no lifestyle sacrifices, affordable real estate (whether you’re renting or buying), good-quality, inexpensive health care, and a quality of life that’s hard to beat.

Ecuador is gentle…safe…healthy…private…civil. As one expat put it: “It’s like we are living in the U.S in the 1950s.” You’re guaranteed a quality of life that just plain doesn’t exist anymore in the States. Up north, violence, materialism, and increasingly intrusive government policies have whittled away the last vestiges of the American Dream. Yet here you’re guaranteed a truly extraordinary lifestyle. And that makes Ecuador the perfect place to retire…or reinvent yourself. You’ll find like-minded company when you do.

All of these things combined, make Ecuador our 2015 Annual Global Retirement Index winner.


3 Rules for Experts Who Want More Influence

3 Rules for Experts Who Want More Influence

………The final step in becoming a recognized expert – one who doesn’t need to shout it from the rooftops, because others are doing it for you – is to cultivate a following. Part of this comes naturally, as you create content over time and more people are exposed to your ideas. You move steadily from, “Who’s that?” to “I think I’ve heard of her” to “I love her work!” You also begin to have institutions jump on board and volunteer to spread your message further.