“Kathleen, first, my compliments on being such a great resource for those of us who have recognized the international opportunities available in some wonderful locales, as well as for the newly initiated who are searching for the valuable information you provide. My experience with your products tells me that you like to provide honest and thorough assessments, feedback, and opinion to your customers.
“I am writing this to hopefully help you do that with regard to banking. Specifically, the Schwab account you have recommended for those hoping to minimize exposure to the fee-crazy banks in the United States. After further investigation on my own, I discovered that the Schwab account is fantastic from a fee perspective, as you stated. However, there is one significant caveat you should alert your readers to. They absolutely will not open the account for you if you are not in the States. Fraud protection was the reason I was given.
“I am living in Thailand. I even inquired about having my sister, who has full power of attorney, get involved at a local office in the States. The rep on the phone said yes, but the rep in the local office refused. After numerous phone calls and discussions, I have concluded that they will just not do it. So inform your readers that setting up this great product must occur before they depart the once great USA.”
–Blane B., Thailand
You’re right that one should set up a Schwab account and any other new bank, brokerage, or credit card account before leaving his home country. It’ll always be easier that way. However, it is possible to open an account in the United States after you’ve left the country. If you’ve maintained a U.S. address, either with a relative (your sister, for example) or with a mail service, you can use that address to open a bank or brokerage account from overseas. Further, Schwab offers both resident and non-resident accounts. However, as they will let you open an account remotely, all you need, again, is an address in the United States. That should be sufficient to open a resident account. More information on opening a non-resident brokerage account is here.