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These foreign companies are not likely to file reports with the SEC. The information available about these companies may be different than the information available about companies that file reports with the SEC. Moreover, the information may not be available in English.

Investors should learn as much as they can about an investment, and about a broker-dealer or an investment adviser, before they invest. Tracking down information on international investments may require extra effort, but it will make investors more informed. One of the most important things to remember is to read and understand the information about an investment before investing.

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Here are some sources of information to consider:. SEC reports. Foreign companies listed on U. Investors can get the prospectus for a particular U. Many of these funds also have websites and phone lines to assist investors that may provide helpful information about international investing. In addition, prospectuses of U. A broker or investment adviser may have research reports on particular foreign companies, individual countries or geographic regions.

Ask whether updated reports are available on a regular basis. A broker or investment adviser also may be able to provide investors with copies of SEC reports and other information. Foreign companies. Foreign companies often prepare annual reports, and some companies also publish an English language version of their annual report. Some foreign companies post their annual reports and other financial information on their websites. Foreign regulators. Many foreign securities regulators post information about issuers and registrants on their websites, including audited financial statements.

Foreign regulators sometimes post warnings about investment scams and information about their enforcement actions that can be useful to investors. IOSCO also publishes investor alerts that it receives from its securities regulator members on the Investor Protection page on its website. Many financial publications and international business newspapers provide extensive news coverage of foreign companies and markets. Internet Resources. Various government, commercial, and media websites offer information about foreign companies and markets.

For tips on how to spot and avoid Internet fraud, please visit Investor. In the United States, we have access to information and products from all over the world. Foreign companies can achieve the status of household names in the United States without public awareness that these companies are domiciled outside of the United States, or they may conduct a majority of their business operations abroad.

In addition, many U.

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  7. Investors should conduct a review of their holdings, including any U. While investing in any security requires careful consideration, international investing raises some special issues and risks. These include:. Access to different information. In some jurisdictions, the information provided by foreign companies is different than information provided by U. The nature, amount and frequency of disclosures required under foreign law may also be different from that required of U.

    Information foreign companies publish may not be in English. Moreover, the financial statements of publicly listed companies in the United States, whether based in the United States or abroad, must be audited by an independent public accounting firm subject to oversight by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board PCAOB.

    The financial statements of a foreign company that is not publicly listed in the United States may or may not be subject to analogous auditing and auditor oversight arrangements. Costs of international investments. International investing can be more expensive than investing in U. In some countries there may be unexpected taxes, such as withholding taxes on dividends.

    Investors also should be aware of the potential risks and effects of currency conversion costs on an investment. Working with a broker or investment adviser. If investors are working with a broker or investment adviser, they should make sure the investment professional is registered with the SEC or for some investment advisers with the appropriate state regulatory entity.

    It is generally against the law for a broker, foreign or domestic, to contact a U.

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    Investment advisers advising U. Details on a U. Changes in currency exchange rates and currency controls. A foreign investment also has foreign currency exchange risks. When the exchange rate between the foreign currency and the U. In fact, it is possible that a foreign investment may increase in value in its home market but, because of changing exchange rates, the value of that investment in U.

    Should I consider international investments?

    In addition to exchange rates, investors should be aware that some countries may impose foreign currency controls that restrict or delay investors or the company invested in from moving currency out of a country. These controls could affect the value and liquidity of an investment. Changes in market value. All securities markets can experience dramatic changes in market value. One way to attempt to reduce the impact of these price changes is to be prepared to hold investments through adverse times and sharp downturns in domestic or foreign markets, which may be long lasting.

    Political, economic and social events.

    Failing to take full advantage of tax-favored investment accounts like IRAs and k s over the course of your career can force you to siphon off a portion of your savings every year to pay the tax man. Many low-cost fund options aren't efficient from a tax standpoint, failing to take advantage of opportunities to harvest tax losses and selling off high-gain assets at inopportune times from a tax perspective.

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    Even after you retire, having imbalanced exposure among traditional and Roth IRAs and k accounts can force you to bear a high tax burden when you start withdrawing from your retirement savings, especially if your spending needs prove to be less predictable than you initially anticipated. Foreseeing these and other tax issues can lead to reduced tax bills that will boost your ending nest egg considerably. A host of low-cost investment options like target date maturity funds use generic investment strategies to simplify investing. Those strategies typically involve owning riskier investments early in life and then growing more conservative as you approach and enter retirement.

    In reality, however, there's no one-size-fits-all strategy that works for everyone, and if you take your own personal situation into account, you'll be able to put together a portfolio that recognizes your financial needs and risk tolerance more effectively. For instance, if you know that your life expectancy is considerably different from average, then the strategy a typical low-cost retirement-oriented fund follows won't properly address your personalized time horizon.

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    Similarly, the timing of when you expect to spend your savings is important, as those who plan to focus their spending early in their retirement years should invest differently from those who want to preserve savings into their 80s and 90s. Investing too conservatively can produce subpar returns that will cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your lifetime, while investing too aggressively can mean that an ill-timed market downturn can deal a crushing blow to your investments right when you need money to spend. Almost no low-cost investment services offer advice beyond the investing realm.

    When you claim Social Security is one of the most important financial decisions you'll make in retirement, but the ideal decision takes into account several factors. Choices on when and how much income to draw from taxable and tax-favored retirement accounts, whether married couples choose to retire at the same time or stagger their retirements, and how to adjust investment portfolios to account for benefits all affect your financial situation in retirement.

    Similarly, picking Medicare options that fit well with your health condition can save you money in premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

    United Income has its own motive to reveal and analyze these costs in its study. It argues that its own proprietary wealth management solution is a relatively low-cost service that takes these often-ignored investing costs into account. In my opinion, the better solution is for you to take control of your own financial situation.

    You can use low-fee investments as tools, but your broader financial strategic plan has to include issues like Social Security and Medicare , asset allocation, risk management, and tax considerations. If you make allowances for your own personal needs as you plan your investments, your results will be far better than if you just take a cookie-cutter approach toward your finances.

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    Dan Caplinger has been a contract writer for the Motley Fool since As the Fool's Director of Investment Planning, Dan oversees much of the personal-finance and investment-planning content published daily on Fool. With a background as an estate-planning attorney and independent financial consultant, Dan's articles are based on more than 20 years of experience from all angles of the financial world.

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