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Am I Self-Employed, Un-Employed or Retired?
Old 06-17-2007, 04:30 PM   #1
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Am I Self-Employed, Un-Employed or Retired?

I'll make a real long story short. We all know I'm 36 and FIRE'd at 35 over here in Europe. So, not too long ago, I applied for a certain account at a certain financial institution. The financial institution had one of their "advisers" call me up to review the online application I sent in.

Now, I admit, I likely made a mistake as I put "self-employed" on the application on the advice of someone I maybe shouldn't have listened to. The idea was they would question that I was retired so young, with such a relatively small portfolio and that would send up red flags. Self-Employment as a private investor sounded better. As we'll find out, it really didn't matter if I put Retired anyway.

So once we get to the employment part I explain that I'm self-employed on the basis of my personal investments. She suddenly gets very snotty and claims that I'm not self-employed as I don't have a registered company and no clients. She said "so you're telling me you're unemployed and just make some money on investments?" Well, not really I say as I see making the right investment choices as work and I earn money from my own choices so that's self-employment. So she's having none of that and I don't understand why she seems to be so upset with me.

Trying to diffuse her unexplained terse reaction to me, I say well sorry for the misunderstanding and Retired might be the best category for me then as I "don't work" according to her understanding. Well, she scoffs at this that I'm too young to be retired and (here comes what I knew was coming) "your net worth doesn't support retirement at your age. What other sources of income do you have?" "Well, I live in Eastern Europe so my cost of living".....................there I made a big mistake.

Then I got the third degree about overseas bank accounts, if anyone in my family is a member of a foreign government, if I've moved any money into certain banks, etc, etc, etc. She claimed The Dept. of Homeland Security dictated that I be asked these questions based on my answers to her.

So anyway, she insisted on un-employed and they did open the account, but I haven't used it. I'm likely just to close it. I'm too paranoid now, like I'm going to be tracked as some terrorist funding agent or something. "People" will be watching every transaction from that account.

So, if I decide to open another account in the U.S. (far from likely now) what does a low net worth, 36 year old, FIRE'd in Europe guy put on his application? Self-employed, un-employed or retired?
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Old 06-17-2007, 04:35 PM   #2
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Just open an account in Europe instead. They'll understand!
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Old 06-17-2007, 06:07 PM   #3
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Trek,

You are right to be paranoid. The fascists are now alerted and you will be under observation. You may be on a no-fly list as we speak. I am serious.

I would have used the self-employed private investor category myself (except that I am almost twice your age and could qualify as 'retired' anyway). It sounds good to me. Maybe they would have bought 'house-husband'? "Mr. Mom"?

It would have been best if you could have avoided telling them where you live. Now that you know, maybe you can have a better answer next time. Tell them your wife is rich, maybe?

I despair when I think of the morons who are running our country.
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Old 06-17-2007, 07:54 PM   #4
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I'd tell them I'm a kept man. Everyone has to be good at something, and I am very good at what I do. Some wealthy females are willing to see that I am well fed, well rested and living a stress free life so that I may invest all of my energy in what I do best.

It's not true in my case, but one can dream.
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Old 06-17-2007, 08:14 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trek View Post
So, if I decide to open another account in the U.S. (far from likely now) what does a low net worth, 36 year old, FIRE'd in Europe guy put on his application? Self-employed, un-employed or retired?
Apparently at-home dads are considered harmless by HS... especially if, like me, they spend a lot of time barefoot and in the kitchen.
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Old 06-18-2007, 12:38 AM   #6
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I think Self-Unemployed sounds right.

I'd like to be on a no-fly list, the mosquitoes have gotten bad with all the rain recently.
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Old 06-18-2007, 12:45 PM   #7
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I always say "Private Client Portfolio Manager" on applications. If they want income, I state the total amount the portfolio grew in the last 12 months or last calendar year plus any income from dividends/pension etc. Seems to satisfy most beancounters.
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Old 06-18-2007, 12:55 PM   #8
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I always say "Private Client Portfolio Manager" on applications. If they want income, I state the total amount the portfolio grew in the last 12 months or last calendar year plus any income from dividends/pension etc. Seems to satisfy most beancounters.
This is the first time I've ever read about ERs needing to appear to be employed (other than easing the tensions of social/family relations).

And if one has to appear to be employed, then this is the best answer I've ever read!
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Old 06-18-2007, 02:12 PM   #9
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I always say "Private Client Portfolio Manager" on applications...
You can tell them what Tom Hagan said in The Godfather:

"I have a special practice. I handle one client. Now you have my number. I'll wait for your call."
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Old 06-18-2007, 04:33 PM   #10
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In the future, perhaps you can just explain that you live frugally, and document your low expenses if necessary. And make chewing noises like you're eating cat food.

What percentage of your net worth are your annual expenses?
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Old 06-18-2007, 04:37 PM   #11
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Why are you so hung up with how they classify you? I wouldn't care.... but that's me.
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I've been avoiding this myself
Old 06-18-2007, 07:50 PM   #12
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I've been avoiding this myself

I do say portfolio management, but when it comes to income I usually use taxable income which puts me in their zero bracket. Unrealized capital gains? Tax deferred accounts? I haven't filled out any credit applications for this reason, although I hardly would be borrowing money anyway. It seems simpler to fly under the radar and have everyone think I am poor.
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Old 06-18-2007, 10:59 PM   #13
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Wouldn't it have been simpler to open the account in Estonia where you wouldn't have to put up with such foul treatment?
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Old 06-19-2007, 12:09 PM   #14
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Private Investor works well............
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Old 06-19-2007, 02:32 PM   #15
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I've been trying the self employed investment routine...that worked great for several years but lately I've had a bad string of people asking me for advice or my opinion on some obscure financial situation...and believe it or not I dont want to give any!

Our new doctor decided to engage me on a lengthy discussion of Dave Ramseys advice the other day
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Old 06-20-2007, 04:39 AM   #16
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I wonder if the 3rd-degree has to do with the bank/brokerage's needs to cover their butt.. I think now (after lawsuits about 'inappropriate' investments??) they keep tabs on people's income/status so that they only tout beaver cheese futures and hedge funds to the high rollers.

You can't do anything about the watching. It will be the same if you open another account elsewhere, (and you'll have to go through the same rigamarole and get put into yet another database..) so I would just use it now that you're in.

Not sure about Estonia, but there are PLENTY of reasons for me not to keep any more money than necessary in an Italian acc't. Plus you don't want to be screwed by the awful $/€ exchange rate all at once.. I gather they are not using the Euro in Estonia yet, but the currency there is pegged for now.

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Old 06-20-2007, 09:55 AM   #17
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Yep, I'm a low value investment now.

No first amendment rights for bunnies.
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Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Just another form of "buy low, sell high" for those who have trouble with things. This rule is not universal. Do not buy a 1973 Pinto because everyone else is afraid of it.
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