Name: John McNertney
Country of birth: United States of America
Let's start our conversation by finding out a little more about John McNertney's history and career: childhood, youth, first steps in his professional career, first dreams...
I was born in Palo Alto, California, into a family of seven. We all knew that the Bay Area was changing during the early eighties, but nobody understood how central Silicon Valley could become in the future of technology and business. As my father came from an extremely rural background, he decided to move us to Iowa, in the interior of the country, when I was 12.
And so I spent most of my youth away from home, working on the farm before going to university, also in Iowa. As soon as I graduated, I decided to move back to San Francisco. And so, I began a career in finance... The problem, if I can call it that, with Silicon Valley is that it created so much "New Money", and while I was training as a financial adviser, there were always new clients around every corner. It was a fantastic era and a place to learn the art of successful financial management!
How did John McNertney start working as a financial adviser in Portugal? What were his main motivations?
It was part wish, part luck. I've always been fascinated by life in Europe. I learnt to speak French as a secondary concentration at university, so I was open to living outside the USA. But then fate intervened. My wife received a career opportunity to move to Lisbon in 2019. Initially, I didn't move with her, but when the pandemic started, I came with her and the rest is history! I fell in love with Portugal.
As my main motivations are to guide people seeking to organise the retirement lifestyle of their dreams, I realised that I could do this most effectively for people who share my open global mindset... I now use my technical skills to help provide structure, guidance and investment knowledge to those leading a "Cross Border" lifestyle.
"Make hay while the sun shines!"
What are the main challenges that Americans face when settling in Portugal, whether for tourism or residence?
What are the main services and guidelines that John McNertney provides to its American clients who wish to live or invest in Portugal?
We offer two essential services: Firstly, we develop a comprehensive financial plan. This includes budgeting, debt and investment management, insurance and estate planning. These things have a different level of priority for different people, so this exercise is intense and varies from person to person.
Once a plan has been developed, we provide the technical expertise to execute that plan. I'm an SEC-registered advisor, so we can actively invest client money in financial assets such as stocks or bonds. These are two separate services: Some just need a plan, and some need us to be hired and monitoring to ensure that the plan is executed according to the strategy.
From your experience, which sectors are of greatest interest to Americans looking for business opportunities in Portugal?
What makes Portugal an attractive destination for Americans, whether for tourism or as a place to live or invest?
What are the main cultural differences and business practices between Americans and Portuguese that expats should be aware of?
Americans tend to make decisions quickly and feel more comfortable operating in a digital environment. Americans are often surprised to discover that the Portuguese don't send emails first and, when they do correspond, prefer a more formal tone. The Portuguese also don't tend to "fail early, fail fast" in business. In America, it's quite common to launch a partially developed business and expect others to support and promote it. In Portugal, where the tolerance for failure is much lower, this doesn't happen, so I feel that the environment may be a little less favourable for the entrepreneur.
How does John McNertney help his American clients deal with bureaucratic issues such as visas, work permits and residency in Portugal?
What are the main legal and tax areas that Americans should consider when moving to or investing in Portugal?
In your opinion, what are the biggest advantages and disadvantages of living in Portugal compared to the United States?
Can you share a success story or an interesting story of how you helped an American client overcome a specific challenge when setting up in Portugal?
Last year, I met an American consulting firm that was helping a client who had decided to move to Portugal. This client had saved a lot of money and developed a good strategy for retirement in the US. But when they decided to move to Portugal, the company realised that they didn't have a solid understanding of how to make the transition effectively. And they were right: this client needed my help to redevelop every level of his retirement strategy.
Most importantly, he and his former advisor worked diligently to identify all of his pain points honestly and efficiently with me. I did the necessary work and introduced him to a number of local resources that he used to deal with his immigration and other lifestyle challenges. In less than a year, he moved full time to live in Portugal and couldn't be happier. It's completely satisfying to be part of these relocation stories!