Expats & UK
Transfer & Consolidate Your UK Pensions
UK Pension legislation introduced in 2006 permits owners of defined benefit pensions to transfer and consolidate their assets into alternative schemes, offering greater access, investment choice and the ability to pass on assets to loved ones after death.
Pension scheme members are becoming increasingly knowledgeable as news of spiralling pension deficits and the risk of intervention by the Pension Protection Fund has been enough to motivate people to seek advice and explore their options.
Pensions are simply pots of money accumulated to provide an income when you are no longer working. This crucial area of financial planning comes in two forms:
Defined benefit schemes are linked to salary and length of employment and administered by trustees that ensure that contributions are made by employers. Defined benefit pensions are gradually being replaced by money purchase schemes as they are too expensive for employers to maintain.
Money purchase schemes are not correlated to length of service, although longer service results in more contributions. Employees and employers contribute to a pension scheme which invests in securities, the performance of which will determine the value of the pension at retirement, less charges deducted.
When exploring pension transfers as an expat, you will generally be given the following two options:
It is important for expats to note that as non-relevant UK individuals with relevant UK earnings, tax relief on contributions into a SIPP may not apply. UK taxpayers will normally receive 20% government tax-relief on contributions (possibly more for higher tax rates), as long as they don't exceed:
£1.073,100 in your lifetime (current lifetime allowance)
100% of your earnings in a year
£40,000 a year (annual allowance)
Globally, financial regulations vary as much as the protection they offer you. Many regions are still years way from implementing UK-style remuneration rules for expat advisers. The way you pay for expat financial advice has a huge impact on investment performance and the service you receive, so it's vital to clearly understand the terms and conditions of financial commitments you make, and consider how products will fit your needs should your circumstances change.
The requirements to complete pension transfers have become stricter. However, caution is advised as the UK government's efforts to deter cold-calling scams and the promotion of unregulated investments, has not stopped £millions being lost by inexperienced and vulnerable investors.
The benefits of moving a pension are many but the sacrifices need to be clearly explained and understood. To discuss if an expat pension transfer to a QROPS or an International SIPP is right for you, contact us today and you'll get the guidance you need to make an educated decision.