UK Pension Transfers
The UK pension transfer market has come a long way since the origins of the Self Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) back in 1999 and then its international equivalent, the Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS), which arrived in 2006.
We have had the introduction of the ORIGO SIPP transfer platform in 2013 (allowing for incredibly fast and easy pension transfers in the UK), pension freedoms being allowed from 2015, the nasty 25% overseas transfer tax arriving in 2017 and now Brexit, which will likely have knock-on effects for the pension transfer market – we just don’t know what they will be. However, the original ideals of being able to move and take control of your UK pension capital have never changed.
We now live in a modern era where people routinely change jobs (on average every 5-7 years in the UK) and perhaps also travel the world for work. This has taken us to a place far removed from even one generation before, where our parents may well have expected to work for one company and build one pension pot throughout their entire working life. People are now much more likely to build many different pensions throughout their careers, in the UK and in many cases also abroad. Holding such an array of different pensions, having little or no transparency on costs, where the money is invested or how the pension capital is growing can bring about frustration for the owner of such pensions.
SIPPS (and later QROPS) were introduced to allow a pension holder the ability to transfer multiple pensions into one transparent, on-line, low-cost structure, take control of how their pension capital is invested and ultimately decide when and how much money to withdraw during their retirement.
In many cases a simple UK based SIPP can provide the best of all worlds, even for an international worker. SIPP’s provide a low-cost and transparent means to consolidate and manage all of your UK pension capital in one place.
They are safe, secure, tax efficient and allow for a world of investment opportunities. Furthermore, all of the SIPP solutions that we recommend also have on-line access, allowing you to be in complete control of your pension at all times.
As SIPPs are based in the UK they are not subject to the 25% overseas tax charge, which was introduced by HMRC in 2017. Please download the SIPP and QROPS guide for more information on this.
There also exists a variant of SIPPs designed specifically for the international market – called the International SIPP. Whilst still being UK based these SIPPs offer further features that may be of benefit to those living and working overseas – including the ability to hold, invest and drawdown in foreign currencies and also allowing for tax efficiency when withdrawing funds.
Pension freedoms were introduced in the UK in 2015. This allows the pension holder, from the age of 55, complete flexibility to draw down from their pension as and when they see fit, either by taking regular income or ad hoc lump sums. Depending on your residency, you may also have the ability to draw down an initial 25% tax free from your pension pot.
In a post-Brexit world where there may be changes to pension transfers, we can be confident that SIPP transfers in the UK will still exist, as your pension capital never leaves the country.
A QROPS may be explained as the offshore equivalent of a UK SIPP. A QROPS is any pension scheme that is regulated and registered in a country outside of the UK, but recognised by HMRC to have the same underlying rules and principles as a SIPP.
Like a SIPP, a QROPS allows the pension holder control and choice over currency, investment decisions and when and how to draw down income and/or ad hoc lump sums in retirement.
Two main factors must be considered ahead of transferring a UK pension to a QROPS;
(1) Cost – a QROPS structure is normally significantly more expensive than a SIPP
(2) The 25% overseas tax charge. This charge is made against any overseas transfer unless either (a) the member and scheme reside in the same country or (b) the member and scheme are both within the European Economic Area (EEA) or (c) the QROPS scheme is a scheme in which the members employer participates or a public service scheme or a scheme set up by an international organisation, such as the United Nations.
Given certain circumstances, however, there may be strong reasons to consider a transfer into a QROPS. Probably the most important benefit of all, especially for larger pension pots, is that all such QROPS transfers are marked against your Life Time Allowance (LTA) at the point of transfer. This could mean avoiding any additional taxes as and when your pension breaches your LTA limit.
For all of the features and benefits of a QROPS please download our SIPP & QROPS Guide or contact an advisor today to discover whether a SIPP or QROPS transfer could be in your best interests.
Will you outlive your savings?
Not only will todays worker normally have many more jobs than their parents before them, but they will also likely have many more years to enjoy in their retirement.
Previously a person may have been able to rely upon their company and government pension to provide for them throughout their retirement. However, with people’s retirement lasting for longer than ever before we now see a general pattern unfolding. Certain company’s pension schemes are now closed or closing (most notable, final salary schemes) and governments are routinely trying to move the retirement age backwards. There simply isn’t the funding available to pay for retirees who may routinely live beyond 100 in the years ahead.
This means that now, more than ever, it is vitally important to calculate what we’ll need in later life and ensure provisions will be in place for a potentially long and happy retirement.
Rather than simply hope and pray that our retirement will be a happy one, we can then plan to supplement any pensions we may have with additional income from savings, investments and property.
All SIPP and QROPS solutions that we recommend are either registered and regulated in the UK by the FCA (SIPPs) or recognised by HMRC to have the equivalent level of regulation and protection within the jurisdiction that they reside (QROPS).
SIPP and QROPS structures are generally set up under irrevocable trust. This means that your pension capital never forms part of the pension or trust companies balance sheet. Thus, your funds are always separate, segregated and ring-fenced for your complete protection.
We work hard to ensure that all of our partner companies provide the very best in terms of service and cost. This may mean that we do not always recommend the cheapest, but always the best.
We always ensure that you are aware and happy with all of the costs resulting from a SIPP or QROPS transfer. This may include any set-up charges, on-going management fees and also underlying investment costs.