Financial expert: Despite high financial literacy, expatriates face challenges in obtaining financial and insurance products
The large number of expatriates living in Brno is a testament to what a desirable location it is, both in terms of lifestyle and business opportunities. But staffing Brno’s various institutions with people who speak English is still a work in progress, which can make things difficult for foreigners when they are getting set up in the country. This is why Tomáš Ryšánek, founder and manager of Pafin Foreigners, set up his firm. Since 2015, Pafin Foreigners have been assisting the international community in making informed choices when obtaining financial and insurance products. But their services do not end there!
Tomáš Ryšánek was interviewed recently by Brno Daily and explained some of the challenges faced by foreigners when seeking insurance and financial products.
Brno Daily: What exactly do Pafin Foreigners do?
Tomáš Ryšánek: We are insurance and mortgage brokers. This means that we have established cooperation with most insurance and banking institutions in the Czech Republic, so we are always able to find the best solution for a client.
BD: There aren’t many companies in the Czech financial market that specialise in assisting foreigners. Why did you decide to focus on the expat community?
TR: It was basically a coincidence. Three years ago, one of our Czech clients sent us a friend who was a foreigner and needed to have some matter resolved urgently. And that’s how it started. I was really surprised at the obstacles foreigners have to overcome, whether they want to insure a car or take out a mortgage. Thanks to this, we realised that we had a lot to offer our clients.
BD: What are the biggest obstacles for foreigners when they need to arrange something, for example, at a bank or insurance company?
TR: English. In many branches of financial institutions, you simply can’t communicate in English. And then it’s willingness to help and attitude to the customer. In addition, their product documentation is usually just in Czech.
Also, during negotiations for a product, everyone is trying hard. But when it comes to the after-sales service, such as assistance with settling an insured event, problems can arise. Unfortunately, a lot of people use foreign nationals’ lack of knowledge of the local market to try to rip them off.
BD: Are expat clients different from Czechs?
TR: Definitely, yes. As I’ve just said, they don’t have as much knowledge of the local market, which is logical given the language barrier. Unlike Czechs, they often can’t find the information they need on the internet. But where they clearly have an advantage over Czech clients is in financial literacy and their way of thinking about money and property.
For example, I recently arranged a mortgage for clients from China. We were having the final meeting where the clients were deciding what kind of mortgage they would choose. The client opened her laptop, and I was in total shock. She had an Excel spreadsheet that contained all the numbers and values we had dealt with since beginning negotiations – calculated monthly cash flow – simply everything! I think she had analysed the mortgage better than the bank! (laughs)
BD: What do your clients most often need?
TR: Most often, we deal with health insurance for non-EU nationals and mortgage loans. And then those little things like car insurance or gathering the required documents before leasing out a property.
BD: You keep saying ‘we’. How many of you are there at Pafin Foreigners?
TR: We’re three in total. I deal primarily with the foreign nationals’ concerns, and one of my colleagues helps me. We are not and do not want to become a large stratified corporation, as is the norm in the Czech market. Being a small local firm is the perfect match for us, and I think it brings a lot of benefits not only to us but also to our clients.
In addition to the language barrier, foreigners face a lack of familiarity with the services available in Brno that can really complicate matters of finance and insurance. Pafin Foreigners believe that with their expert guidance, expatriates in Brno can put their personal skills to good use and maximise their success while living abroad.
Need assistance with your insurance and financial matters? Send an email to Tomáš at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop by the Pafin office at Obchodní pasáž SFINX, Hrnčířská 6, 602 00 BRNO. More details are available at www.pafinforeigners.cz.
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