Last week, I opened a personal account at a Panama bank. And while that might not seem like a reason to celebrate, it is noteworthy.
You see, for the past five years or so, Panama has become renowned for being a horribly challenging place to open accounts – but not because the banks are “bad”, or the fees or minimums are too high.
Actually, quite the contrary.
Panama banks are pretty well managed, invest conservatively, and don’t engage in the same mind-bending lending practices that their U.S. or European counterparts love.
And on top of that, Panama isn’t some shady back-water “offshore jurisdiction.” Despite what Hollywood and regulators would have you believe, Panama is a beautiful country to visit.
Today, Panama is a real, practical banking solution for a lot of people.
Panama’s banking regulators are straight shooters. They don’t suffer fools and rule the banking sector with an iron fist – you can see that for yourself just by looking at the banks that they’ve recently shut down or penalized!
As a jurisdiction that deals exclusively in USD, the entire banking sector and economy are dependent on their USD correspondent banking relationships.
In other words, if Panama banks don’t behave and upset US regulators, their ability to send and receive money disappears and the economy falls into a deep freeze.
But for the past five years, the challenge with Panama was getting an account open.
Most people failed because they went to the wrong bankers, went to the wrong branches, couldn’t produce the right paperwork, or accidentally freaked out compliance departments.
And maybe you’ve heard about a little scandal called the Panama Papers? Well, first of all, most of the action happened outside of Panama. But nonetheless it forced Panama under a microscope of scrutiny.
The result was a whole new set of stricter regulations and compliance practices that took a number of years for Panama banks and bankers to get the hang of.
So, what has changed?
Well, many people will tell you that account opening in Panama is still challenging, and they’re right. But the process of opening accounts is a lot more streamlined than it was even a year ago.
Remember, for the past few years, Panama banks were still playing catch up with the rest of the world…
Historically, compliance departments in Panama were incredibly slow and inexperienced. Many inserted “fake compliance” practices to show that they were doing something, like requiring color copies and four pieces of identification. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a bank that understood the needs of anyone living an international lifestyle.
On top of that, they were still trying to implement standard compliance protocols and those ever so popular “banking acronyms”…
But now, my team has found that certain Panama bankers at a small number of Panama banks have seriously stepped up their game.
Now, in addition to being a USD based economy and a 2-hour flight from Miami, Panama is showing signs that it might be on the verge of becoming the next great banking hub… at least in the Americas.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still a lot of hoops to jump through. And if you don’t know which banks (and bankers) to approach, you won’t get an account.
But, if you have that information handy, it can be a straightforward account opening process that can deliver a useful bank account in USD.
In addition to me personally opening an account in Panama last week, five GlobalBanks Insiders have opened accounts in Panama over the last two months.
So, what kind of banking should you consider in Panama?
Well, first and foremost, Panama is a great place for anyone that is already a resident. But even if you’re not a resident of Panama there are still a few banking options here worth looking at.
Panama also offers options for foreign companies and foundations that normally have a hard time getting access to decent banks, USD accounts, and international transfers: BVI, Cayman, Seychelles, Belize, etc.
And don’t forget, Panama isn’t just home to Panama banks. There are many foreign banks here, even several very reputable European private banks that are worth considering.
With the right guidance (and contact information), you can even use Panama as a less expensive entry point to several of the best banks in Europe with affordable wealth management products.
How can you open bank accounts in Panama?
If you’re already a GlobalBanks Insider, just click here to access the Panama Offshore Banking Report from the Insider Library and see the options available in Panama, with specific banker contacts and opening strategies.
How can you open a Panama bank account if you’re not an Insider?
Panama banking is accessible if you know which bankers to contact, which branches to go to, and which banks to target.
We outline the exact strategies for account opening and how to know which banks to choose in The Ultimate Guide to International Banking.
In fact, I used the exact strategies that are shared in the Ultimate Guide to open my account in Panama last week.
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