Abacus is Shaping the Algarve, One Client at a Time

Bespoke service on the full range of trust and company management

With offices in Gibraltar since 1974, Abacus Financial Services, Ltd. was part of an accountancy firm Spicer and Pegler. In the mid 80’s it became part of a leading accountancy firm, Coopers and Lybrand, which ultimately developed into one of the top four global financial advisory firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) with Abacus as a member in its own right.

In 2012 Abacus chose to become an independent firm, having seen unprecedented growth as its client reach extended well beyond the confines of the Iberian Peninsula and the United Kingdom. The company's business and product offering became increasingly sophisticated as clients demanded more from their fiduciary service provider.

And it's no wonder: As an independent firm, Abacus provides the full range of trust and company management to all its clients.

Whilst their core offering company management and fiduciary services continue to grow, Abacus has diversified further and expanded into fund administration as well as trustee and administrative services for their own brand of international pensions. They have also established an independently managed wealth management firm, Abacus Wealth Management, regulated in Gibraltar, which specializes in the provision of financial advice for investments, pension transfers, retirement planning, and cash flow forecasting.

Anne Darlington, Manager of Abacus Financial Services in the Algarve told the IPBN, “A team of managers went to the Algarve in the 1980s to investigate the business opportunities in the area. It soon became apparent that the use of property holding structures would appeal to the homebuyers, who were predominantly UK resident at the time, and offered an attractive alternative solution to holding property directly in their own name.”

With access to a network of over 35 trusted lawyers in the Algarve and clients originating from all over Europe and America, the office in the Algarve is a point of contact for clients and managers to meet and liaise with the head office in Gibraltar, which is responsible for not only the Algarve branch, but also manages the administration of companies domiciled in Malta, Delaware, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

Anne explained that “At our head office in Gibraltar, we have over 50 professionals working in the following areas: Trusts and Foundations, Company administration services that offer the administration assistance for the Portuguese property holding companies, accounting services including preparation of financial statements to tax compliance, reporting, and payroll. Family office services, Gibraltar fund administration, pensions, wealth management, and residency solutions in Gibraltar and Portugal are other services available to our clients."

When it comes to investing in property in Portugal, particularly in the Algarve, Anne praised the stability and safety that investors can find here that is lacking in many other countries, and that comes from her own personal experience having been born in the UK, living throughout the UK, moving to Spain in the ‘90s, and now living in the Algarve. “The lifestyle is great for all ages and there are good healthcare services, quality education, incredible nature and the possibility to practice all manners of sport from sailing, surfing, swimming, golf, tennis, padel, and horseback riding. I’ve been here for 27 years myself and I don’t miss the UK whatsoever.”

She noted that even before the COVID crisis, many families who owned a holiday home in the Algarve decided to make their second home their primary residence, especially considering the Algarve’s well-regarded connect-ability, with strong telecommunications and internet provision and frequent flight times from Faro Airport back to the UK.

Typically looking for a second home or for a good lawyer to represent them, the clients who breeze into the Algarve office tend to have similar questions, and Anne is able to answer them and connect clients with the right legal representative, based on not only their legal needs but also on their personal preferences.

Anne added, “A matter that we often help clients with involves explaining the pros and cons of owning a property in the client’s own name versus holding property in a company’s name. This is always considered on a case-by-case basis and depends on tax residence, current structures that may be in place, and the value of the property in question. We work closely with the client’s fiscal advisors and lawyers to ensure all the appropriate information is available. At Abacus, we are always delighted to answer questions on our topics of expertise and welcome all new inquiries."

The IPBN would like to thank Anne and Abacus for their support of the IPBN's first in-person event in the Algarve for more than a year — a coffee and conversation reception on June 17 at the Hilton Vilamoura.