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When Aberdeen-based American Joe Leonard was offered a 20-month career break in 2014, he jumped at the chance to spend more time back in the US. Here, Joe explains he loves both the UK and the US, and tells us how currency specialists Halo Financial have helped ease his trans-Atlantic travels...


Joe LeonardI first moved to Scotland in 1987, leaving Los Angeles, California, to live with my first wife who was Scottish.

Having lived near Aberdeen for 27 years, last year I was offered the opportunity of taking a career break (I work as a music instructor for Aberdeen City Council and also as a trombone tutor at Aberdeen University).

This break has given me a chance to spend 20 months in America which has been invaluable. It has been great to spend time with some of my US-based family. I have four adult children, three of whom live in the UK, but one of whom lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, and two grandchildren. Previously, I had been only able to visit my American relatives twice a year for ten or 12 days at a time.

When I first came back to America at the start of my career break, I knew that it would be handy for me to be able to transfer money from my UK bank account to be able to purchase a vehicle and, eventually, a home out here. Initially, I looked into using a high street bank that had a decent internet banking service available for clients who wanted to transfer money. However, whilst exploring this option more closely, I soon realised that the exchange rate I would receive was mediocre, and I also have to leave a substantial amount of money in the account to qualify for the service.

Therefore, I started researching other options. It was then that I came across Halo Financial. This company has made it so easy for me to transfer money between the UK and the US at a fantastic exchange rate; one that is 3-4 per cent better than any of the high street banks that I looked into. The process is very quick, and I don’t have to invest a large amount of money to benefit from the service.

Although anyone at Halo can initiate a transfer for me, I was assigned a specific Halo Financial consultant to deal with any special requirements. They have been great. The offices in London are open until 8pm, and as I am based in Georgia (which has a five hour time difference) I am able to contact someone there right up until 3pm in the afternoon.

Since being back in America I have bought a house and a couple of vehicles and Halo has helped make the transactions go very smoothly – and at a good exchange rate.  

Although I will be moving back to Aberdeen in April 2016, it is my plan to eventually split my time evenly between the two countries – to spend more time with all members of my family.

I try to focus on the positives that both countries have to offer. In America, there is a wealth of places to visit by car or motorbike. The sheer size of the US can be quite daunting – the UK could fit into the state of California alone – but fuel is also a lot cheaper here, due to the high taxation of petrol in the UK, so it’s great to spend time exploring. However, the UK’s proximity to mainland Europe, affords you the chance to see more different countries.

Thankfully, I hope to soon be able to take advantage of the best both countries have to offer, and thanks to the great service I receive from Halo Financial’s friendly and helpful staff, I know that transferring my money between the two is something I don’t have to worry about. 

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