top of page

Buying property in London with US dollars...

At Prime Cap we talk a lot about the work we receive from the legal sector. We're very good at establishing relationships with conveyancers and we like to think this is because of our teams engaging personalities, but it is most certainly because of the direct return we provide their clients. It was, therefore, intensely gratifying for our Americas team to be referred to a lawyer for their personal dealings. The ante is always upped when one is dealing with those who already operate in fields we consider ourselves credible in, largely because, as was the case here, the referral was actually coming from a law firm we work with. Hence - Law firm refers a client who is a lawyer...doubly challenging you might think?

Our close affiliate - a City based law firm - suggested that one of their clients contact us about converting some US dollars into pounds sterling for a property he was purchasing in London. The client in question, the one referred, is stationed at his firm’s London office but firmly considers himself an American. His firm also does too, so much so that he is actually paid in US dollars despite living and working in the UK - this is not uncommon.

Initially, and in anticipation of exchange of contracts, he needs to convert some dollars for the 10% deposit. In due course he will need to convert the balance amount at the point of completion. The law firm that referred are doing the conveyancing for this client. It is of benefit to the client that we can, on his instruction, pay the sterling he buys directly to his solicitor, thus speeding up the process for all concerned.

Our client already banks with a notable global banking institution with a trans-Atlantic offering. We were informed that this bank is somewhat slow to react and simply isn't proactive enough in counselling the client on the best way to facilitate the conversion and transmission of funds. Added to which it is more than likely that, although better than a UK bank, the rate of exchange may well be inferior to that which we can offer. From experience we surmised the client could shave (or rather save) at least 0.5% off the rate offered by his bank. In this instance that could equate to as much as $5000 if not more.

Our size is a distinct advantage for my client in this instance. Our overheads being what they are (near zero) and the fact that he is dealing with an individual on our dealing team who can assess and augment their rate to out perform the competition subjectively, means we have the edge on a bank who, although able to play on their reputation, perhaps don’t place emphasis on the ‘winning the transaction at all costs’ like we do.

Without knowing it, our client will benefit from the fact that we want to show off to the lawyer who referred them. It would be far better to make less profit on 10 clients than it would to underestimate the competition on just one. Collectively, ten clients will earn us more than just the one and they might all serve to beget us more clients over the longer term by virtue of the good turn we did them on the rate. It is this which underpins Prime Cap's growth strategy in fact.

It took us less than 24 hours to collect all the AML (Anti-money laundering) documentation and to confirm to our satisfaction and that of our compliance team that we are dealing with a bona-fide individual. This turn around is, by any firms standards, quick and reflective of just how rapidly we can respond to the needs of our customers.

In addition to the obvious higher volume transaction, that being the subject of the referral and this post, the fact that this client is paid in US dollars presents another point of engagement. It may also be the case that his colleagues are in the same boat.

Whether by hedging for 12 months or less, or simply by converting pro rata on a month by month basis, We are confident that this client will become a regular trader with us…which may inform a post later in the year.

bottom of page