Sunday, 9 October 2011

Are UK Banks Safe?

 and Building Societies

In July 2011, the EU announced that eight banks failed the ’stress tests’ which measure how each institution could cope with a challenge to its liquidity. Of those 8 who failed none of them were British. Unfortunately, five of them were Spanish and this was my article at the time, recently updated.

On 7th October 2011, Moodys, the credit ratings agency, downgraded four UK Banks and eight building societies. This, of course, is not the same as the EU stress tests but it does shake confidence.

The downrated banks are RBS, Lloyds Banking Group, Santander (UK) and Co-op Bank. One of the downgraded building societies was the biggest, Nationwide.

Financial Pages in Spain provides financial information for British and Irish expats and property owners in Spain. Very many will have savings in UK financial institutions and this post is to help readers and to put their minds at rest and, potentially, move savings in an orderly way.

There are five important pieces of information you need to know;

  1. Every UK REGULATED account has 100% protection up to £85,000
Protection comes from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) which is Government backed. It covers savings in current accounts, savings accounts and cash ISA’s in banks, building societies and credit unions. The £85,000 maximum is per person per institution. Although you get your protected money back, the timescale is not pre-determined.

  1. UK savings are not necessarily UK REGULATED
Most banks, included foreign-owned ones, are regulated and covered by the FSCS scheme. So for example, Santander (UK) is Spanish owned but UK regulated. Some however are not. These include ING-direct and Anglo-Irish who are regulated in their home EU countries and ‘passported’ into the UK. I may be able to clarify an individual arrangement if you email me.

  1. If the accounts are held in joint names, the protection is DOUBLED
Cash held in joint names is deemed to be held on the basis of ‘half-each’. Therefore, a UK regulated account, with one institution but in joint names has protection of £170,000. Remember to accumulate the total if you have, in addition, a single name account with the same institution

  1. An Institution is not necessarily a single bank and is not a single account
The protection is per institution and not per bank or per account. For example, Birmingham Midshires, Bank of Scotland and Halifax are all ‘sister’ banks within one institution. You need to accumulate your cash with each to ensure that you are under the £85,000 protection maximum.

  1. Savings are more safe if they are spread
For the best protection, first, understand ‘who owns who’ so that you don’t unwittingly save too much with one institution. You can drop me an email if you want clarification.

Even if you have less than £85,000 saved, its still worth considering ‘speading’ as if one went out of business it will take time to gain accessibility.

Most important of all, to quote a well-known saying ‘Don’t panic Mr Mainwaring don’t panic’. There is no indication that these Institutions will ‘go bust’ but there is a need to protect your own savings. In fact, please tell your family and friends – send them a copy. If you have any concerns, by all means email me.

If you haven’t come across Financial Pages in Spain before you might like to make a note of these links;

La Torre Fx - Foreign Exchange

David Goodall
Financial Pages in Spain


Question: Which is the only country in the EU to offer 100% investor protection?

Answer: Luxembourg. If you want to to know more about investing in Luxembourg please email me

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Spanish Taxes - Payable by Non-Residents

October 2011 - Update

I was asked by a UK based property professional to write the content of a leaflet he wants, for prospective buyers of Spanish houses / apartments. His request was welcomed as too often property agents prefer NOT to tell prospective buyers about taxes, but this is a great initiative.

For many of my regular Spanish resident readers there are elements of this that will not apply but I was writing specifically for a non-resident audience. It equally applies however to non-residents who have already purchased. By all means, email me if you want more detail.

To begin I’ll list three common myths that are wrong. These have all been said to me or written to me;

  • ‘I’m not liable to Spanish Inheritance Tax because I’m not a resident’ – wrong
  • ‘I live in the UK and pay my taxes to the tax office in Salford Quays. I have a house in Spain but I’ve no need to pay Spanish taxes’ – wrong
  • The people who rent my Spanish house pay me in pounds so I don’t need to pay Spanish tax’ – wrong

The following is the leaflet contents I referred to earlier; with update comments

There are 5 key taxes most applicable to non-resident property owners.

Income Tax
Every non-resident owner of a Spanish property has to pay an annual tax to account for their "share" of the property. Although it's called an "income tax" it's not actually based on your level of income, but on a "deemed" or "notional" income, which is a percentage of the rateable value of the property multiplied by the non-resident tax rate of 24%.

This tax is based on the calendar year and is always due within 12 months of the end of the tax year, so for the 2011 tax year, tax needs to be paid by the 31st December 2012.

This tax is paid annually by Non-Residents

Property or IBI Tax
Property rates in Spain is referred to as IBI and, like the UK, this tax will be levied by your local council in Spain. The council will assign a rateable value to your property and then your rates or property tax will be a % of this amount. The % will depend on your council, but in most cases it will be somewhere between 0.5% and 1%. So if you had a rateable value of €50,000 and your local percentage was 0.75%, then your annual rates bill would be €375.

This tax is also based on the calendar year but will normally be payable between June and September each year, again this will be dependent on your local council.

Payable to the local council annually by Non-Residents

Rental Income Tax
Up until the end of 2009, rental income tax was 24% of the gross income you received on any rentals. So if you generated €1000 by renting out your property, then you would have to pay €240 in tax. You could not offset any expenses - i.e. cleaning, utilities, insurance, mortgage interest, marketing, management fees etc.

However, from the 1st January 2010, the rules have changed, which means that you can now offset expenditure when calculating what income, or effectively profit, will be subject to tax.

In theory rental income tax returns need to be submitted each quarter, to account for income received in the preceding 3 months

Only payable on the income generated by Property Rentals

Capital Gains Tax 
When a non-resident owner sells their property, they will make a capital gain or a loss upon the sale, which is the difference between what they paid for the property and the proceeds of the sale. The buyer of the property should always withhold 3% of the sales value and pay this to the Spanish tax office as an "advance" of the buyer’s potential capital gains tax. It is then up to the buyer to calculate their gain or loss, and if a gain has been made this will be subject to 19% tax. The buyer should pay the 3% within 1 month of the sale date, and the seller then has a further 1 month in order to submit their calculation of a gain or loss and the corresponding tax returns.

Payable by non-residents on sale. Professional advice should be sought as the witholding tax  can often be recovered, especially as values are currently low

Inheritance Tax
Inheritance tax for non-residents is a tax on the beneficiaries and not on the deceased as it is in the UK. The tax rates themselves can vary depending on the relationship of the beneficiaries to the deceased, the amount that is being gifted, their age, and even their wealth in Spain and in the very worst situation tax rates can reach levels of 81%!

The other major issue for UK people is that transfers between husband and wife in Spain are not tax exempt as they are in the UK, so if a spouse were to die, then the surviving spouse, in most cases, will need to pay inheritance tax (as well as probate) in order to take on the additional 50% share of the property.

It will normally take approximately 6 months to deal with the probate issues in Spain and pay any outstanding inheritance tax, before the property deeds can then be altered.

No Inheritance Tax is payable if the property is owned by a UK company, since even if a shareholder dies, the company can continue in existence and the shares passed on to a beneficiary under UK rules.

Explode the popular inaccurate myth - Spanish Inheritance Tax (ISD) is payable by Non-Residents and Spain and the UK have NO Double Taxation Treaty or Agreement on IHT.

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This is a very basic outline of taxes in Spain, applying to non-residents. Both residents and non-residents are always encouraged to seek professional advice.

Skype : davidgoodall.spain

Twitter : davidgspain


Financial Pages in Spain

You will note that the leaflet does not contain the Spanish titles of the taxes, as it is aimed at a UK audience. The Spanish descriptions and English translations can be found on my website at

Further reading on Spanish taxes will include the following;

As always, please email me if there is anything I can help with.

David Goodall
Financial Pages in Spain

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Tax Planning in Spain

For tax planning read Tax saving

·        QROPS and QNUPS
·        Offshore Trusts
·        Understanding residency and domicile

It’s an odd fact, but true, that a country like Spain can be regarded as a tax haven with careful planning and expert advice. QROPS, QNUPS and establishing Offshore Trusts are just three examples of effective tax planning.

Tax Planning for Spanish Inheritance Tax (ISD) is a specialist subject and is covered in some depth at the following post; .Please remember that ISD is payable by both residents and non-residents in Spain.

When I was planning to move to Spain, a few years ago, I came to the conclusion that, in tax planning terms, the UK was a good place to accumulate wealth, including pensions and Spain was good for retiring and spending the accumulated wealth. The same is true to some extent, even though the UK Budget 2009 (Labour) and the 2010 version (Coalition) may have changed some pension rules.

Many firms of advisers will offer a financial review based on all circumstances. It can be very misleading to deal with pensions, tax and even mortgages in total isolation from other financial issues. For example, I was recently told about a lady who had a problem with her mortgage and the solution was found by imaginative use of her pension. Email me for links to a professional adviser.

Effective tax planning has three key issues;

  • Residential status and domicile
  • Where your assets are held
  • The nature of your current and future income

Last year,I came across a financial adviser who could not even distinguish between residency and domicile, when I checked the advice he gave one of my readers I was horrified. There are still advisers giving misleading, bogus and poor advice.

It is imperative that you seek out a professional adviser. I can help if you need me to recommend the right advice. Email

Spain can even be a tax haven but you will only benefit through sound professional advice.

It is also important to understand the distinction between tax avoidance and tax evasion. This is covered in some detail by the following;

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You can write to me with your personal experiences or to be put in touch with my recommended adviser by sending me an email I’m very keen to get your feedback

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Value for Money

I was recently posed an interesting question by one of my readers.

‘David, can you please recommend someone who can give the best and cheapest advice about……..’

The problem is that the best advice is not necessarily the cheapest and the cheapest advice may not be the best. In my view the answer is value for money.

You would be surprised how many times I hear the expression ‘I was told that…….’. What usually follows is either wrong or some local popular myth.

Whether it’s QROPS, QNUPS, taxes in Spain, property regulations, residency and many more, myths and inaccurate information abounds.

I will never deviate from my belief that professional advice is always best.

Apart from owning property in Spain for nine years and struggling to find professional advice, in the last year my Blog has lead me to many professionals. If you need advice, please email me.

My own connections included the following professionals;

  • Regulated financial advisers
There are many people and organisations who call themselves ‘financial advisers’ without any qualifications and no regulatory body such as FSA (UK) or DGS and CNMV (Spain). I will only recommended regulated and fully qualified advisers who’s services I have checked.

Value for money comes from a clear declaration of commissions and charges in an open and honest way. Hidden charges and undeclared commissions should always be avoided. For a referral to a suitable adviser, please email me.

  • Suitably qualified accountants and professional lawyers
Both the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Law Society have qualified professionals working in Spain. Whilst you may have a good local source for advice, the professional standing of these people cannot be denied. If you need a referral, please email me.

You are further protected as all qualified professionals will carry ‘Professional Indemnity Insurance’ (PI) just in case anything goes wrong.

Unless your situation is very complex, I would expect most professionals to give you an estimate of costs upfront.

  • Chartered surveyors in Spain
Similarly, I can recommend UK qualified Surveyors.

  • Estate Agents
This is an area of service which is by definition very local. You could already know of a local estate agent with a good local reputation. If this is not the case I can recommend you to a Member of the Association of International Property Professionals.

  • Company formation for property ownership
This is a very specialised service and is often used to save on Spanish Inheritance Tax (ISD). There is a service on my blog under the heading ‘Check your Spanish Inheritance Tax Liability’ to the right of this article.

The service involves the formation of a UK company to own a property in Spain. It involves UK law for the formation of the company and Spanish contracts, translations and knowledge of Spanish law. For this reason, the company concerned has offices in both UK and Spain.

  • Foreign Exchange
I set up La Torre Fx – Foreign Exchange with the specific objective of beating the banks. This is a service and it is worth checking out, with easy access on the right of the blog.

La Torre Fx – Foreign Exchange is linked to a highly professional ‘trading platform’ provided by FTT Global. All of the necessary regulations are in place;

Key Facts about FTT Global:

·         Registered in the United Kingdom - Company Number 5685288
·         Regulated by FSA - Registration Number 503228
·         Regulated by HMRC - Registration Number 12231114
·         Registered for Client Data Protection - ICO Number Z9470988
·         Underwritten by A Rated Insurer
·         Corporate Bankers - Barclays Bank PLC
·         Start trading at

If you email please let me know your question and where you live. I may be able to answer myself, just point you in the right direction or refer you to a suitably qualified person.

For more detailed reading you may wish to look at previous posts to my Blog

Please remember that my Blog is about unbiased, factual financial information. You can look elsewhere for information but remember that an advert will certainly biased towards the company who paid for it. I have no problem with that but remember it’s biased!

David Goodall
Financial Pages in Spain

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Airline Bank and Credit Card Charges

September 14th  - UPDATE
Ryanair has announced from 1st November 2011 the holders of Pre-Paid Mastercards will no longer be able to book free. They will need to pay £6 per journey or £12 return PER PASSENGER. That's £48 for a family of four.

There is only one way around this charge - get a Ryanair 'Cash Passport', which is a NEW pre-paid Mastercard! Seems like Ryanair is saying 'Gotcha'

  • Hidden charges

  • Often excessive extra costs

  • Charges bear no relationship to the cost the bank levies

A couple of weeks ago I received the following email from Lydia. She lives in Spain whilst her daughter lives in Nottinghamshire.

‘David, thank you very much for the help that your Blog has given me but you have asked for feedback so here goes.

My daughter wants to visit me in October but told she was confused about bank charges added to the cost of flights by various airlines. I think, from asking around that many are in this same situation.

Could you do something on the Blog on this matter?

Best wishes, Lydia

I am delighted to help. If you have feedback or comments, please email me.

They don’t make it easy for infrequent travellers but I think I’ve come up with something for readers which your family, friends and neighbours will find helpful too.

I’ll set out the seven main budget airlines operating between Spain and UK, but where ever you fly the charges are the same. To avoid confusion and exchange rate differences these are the sterling charges on September 6th 2011.

BMI Baby
There are three levels of charge with BMI Baby but these are set out clearly and not difficult to follow;

Visa Electron is free
Debit cards are £6 per person
Credit cards are £9 per person

However, please remember that the cost is per person, so a family of 4 using a credit card booking will pay £36 booking fee.

Easyjet have three distinct levels of charge and you may need your calculator.

Visa Electron is free
Debit card charge is 2.5% with a minimum of £4.95. This is the same as Thomson Airways (see below)
Credit cards are charged at the same rate as debit cards plus an extra £8 transaction fee.

Flybe’s booking fee prices are clearly set out but please remember that they are per person.

Visa Electron card is free
Debit card is £9 per person
Credit card charge amounts to £10 per person or £40 for a family of 4. have three levels of charge but I found the credit card fee difficult to understand.

Visa Electron card is free of charge
Debit card charge of 3.5% showing as a transaction fee and subject to a minimum of £4.99
If you use a credit card you will still get the transaction charge, as per the debit card plus a credit card charge of an additional 3.5%

Visa Electron cards and Debit cards are free of booking fees when travelling with Monarch. The alternatives are £5 for using Paypal and £10 for using any other credit card. The cost is added per booking not per passenger.

Correct until 1st November 2011
The always controversial Ryanair are easy to understand but expensive. The costs I will mention below are per passenger. There is however one way to get no booking fee even with Ryanair. That is through a Pre-paid Mastercard. Most issuers of these cards don’t do a credit check as you need to provide the spending limit yourself from another account.

This is not a recommendation but I have a Caxton Fx Currency Card which is a Pre-paid Mastercard. It is worth researching which one suits you.

All other forms of payment, with Ryanair, attract a charge of £12 per passenger or £48 for a familyof 4.

Thomson Airways
Visa Electron cards are free with Thomson. Booking fees by any other method are charged at a rate of 2.5% of the total cost with a minimum of £4.95.

So if the total cost of the booking is £100 the booking fee is £4.95. If the total is £200 the fee is £5.

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If you are a frequent flyer you may want to ensure that you have all bases covered! I found from my own experience that I can always get no booking fees or transaction charges with the following;

  • I got a visa electron card from my Spanish bank
  • I have a debit card with my UK bank
  • I applied for a Pre-paid Mastercard having made a comparisons using the internet.

For those living in Spain these steps may be comparatively easy. UK family and friends may find it difficult to get a Visa Electron card. However my research took me to .

I hope that you found this helpful. Would you help me?

Please send this to anyone you know who uses budget airlines – they may also find ‘Financial Pages in Spain’ helpful in other ways too.

David Goodall
Financial Pages in Spain

Thursday, 1 September 2011

August 2011 Review – Financial Pages in Spain

On 9th August 2011, the blog celebrated it’s first anniversary. At the end of the calendar month, I thought I would reflect on the main issues and topics on ‘Financial Pages in Spain’ during August, including First Anniversary Week.

  • Tax payable on rental property in Spain

  •  Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS)

  • Spanish Inheritance Tax (ISD)

These are the issues that contributed the most feedback. I’m always pleased to receive emails either to seek further advice or to comment on my articles.

Using the statistics provided by my service contractor, I can also indicate the most popular posts in terms of the number of people who visited the pages. They were, in order;

  1. Rental Property in Spain - Tax Payable
There is very clear evidence that the Spanish Tax Authorities (La Hacienda) are now taking the subject very seriously. Given the Spanish Government’s massive budget deficit and the need for more revenue, It is clear that holiday rental income is a ‘soft’ option.

If you have any feedback, please email me. I have received compliments from lawyers and accountants about this item. One of them wrote this ‘tell your readers that it is their responsibility to declare the tax not their agents

  1. QROPS
      QROPS (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes) are set up to allow a transfer of UK pension rights, abroad, with the full approval and authority of the UK Tax Authorities (HMRC).

      I first wrote about these expatriate pensions in my first month of the blog, 12 months ago. The market has changed over time, but QROPS remain extremely popular. However, there is still activity from unauthorised, unlicensed and unqualified people who call themselves ‘advisers’. I only recommend fully authorised advisers. Email me for an introduction.

  1. Spanish Inheritance Tax (ISD)
      Always remember that UK IHT and Spanish ISD are so different that there is no Double Taxation Treaty or Agreement between the two countries.

      No Spanish Inheritance Tax is payable if the property is owned by a UK company, since even if a shareholder dies, the company can continue in existence and the shares passed on to a beneficiary under UK rules. You can check your own liability very easily, if you click the link, in the right-hand column.

This also gives me the opportunity to point out the article that I liked best.

UK Pension Scheme or Plan but you live in Spain

Expats with pensions often believe that they are ‘stuck with’ the rules as they understood them in the UK. This post deals with alternatives. Overseas Pensions come in many guises. For example, there are QROPS, QNUPS and Section 615. The first step, however, is to understand what you have got.

Write me an email , tell me what type of scheme you’ve got and I’ll make sure you are given the right fully authorised advice.

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Financial Pages in Spain continues to grow, as I can see from the statistics. Whilst Spain and UK dominate the views of both the Website and Blog, there have been readers from 39 other countries including New Zealand, Malta, Isle of Man and also the USA!.

Any issues which arise can be answered on an individual basis if you email me. I’m happy to receive questions from anywhere but my real expertise relates to the UK and Spain.

I am happy to take suggestions from readers about future articles. Please email me with your own ideas or issues that you think need raising.

David Goodall
Financial Pages in Spain

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

QNUPS - Questions and Answers

·        Qualifying Non-UK Pension Schemes

·        Expatriate Tax and Pension Planning

·        UK approved by HMRC

The Inheritance Tax (Qualifying Non-UK Pension Schemes) Regulations 2010 [S1 2010/0511]

What does QNUPS stand for?
Qualifying Non UK Pension Schemes, that means that they are overseas pension schemes that meet UK tax criteria and are approved by the UK Tax Authorities (HMRC). One of their main plus points is that they are exempt from UK inheritance tax and may be available to UK residents, which means that people who may never have considered offshore investments as a way of IHT planning may be interested in the schemes.

How much do they cost?
The fees for setting up and running QNUPS are likely to be similar to those that are charged for domestic schemes. Professional fees from advisers that I recommend will be competitive and reasonable. Please contact me by email

Are they just IHT saving schemes?
It’s true that investors may be attracted at first glance to QNUPS because of their IHT exemption. However, there is more to the QNUPS than IHT efficiency. Given that some are free from the strict investment controls that apply to QROPS, some investors may find that they are preferable from the point of view of providing freedom to invest in whatever you like within a pension wrapper.

Who can put money into these schemes and how much?
Like other pension schemes, you can start investing in QNUPS while working. With no maximum age limit, you can keep on putting money into the scheme way beyond your retirement as long as you want. Your investment does not only have to be in the form of your employment income but it can be from any source and even in the form of valuables and antiques. There is no maximum limit to the investment. It is very important that you are not put off by unscrupulous ‘advisers’ who want only cash investments. Get a good adviser! Please email me

Does the protection still work if the expat returns to the UK?
Designed as an overseas pension scheme, this is a common question which comes to mind regarding QNUPS. Fortunately, even if an expat returns to the UK, the asset put into the scheme will continue to be exempt from the IHT and can be passed on to his beneficiaries tax free in the event of his death.

Can I invest existing assets into QNUPS?
QNUPS provides an excellent opportunity for in-specie transfers i.e. Investments you have built up, properties you own and other revenue producing assets can just as easily be a pension contribution. The investment does not have to be cash but cash is not excluded. Indeed the investments that can be held in a QNUPS are much less prescribed by HMRC than traditional pensions. Remember, however, that the QNUPS has to be a Pension Scheme but it is also a plan to defend assets from Inheritance Tax (IHT).

If any adviser suggests selling your assets and buying another financial structure beware. In-Specie Transfers offer a much more cost effective route, normally, and also selling assets can lead to an encashment charge or even a tax bill (eg Capital Gains Tax). To avoid this pitfall please speak to a recommended adviser. Please email me for details. Remember In-Specie Transfers.

Can I take out a QNUPS but take no income?
As the rules are less strict than other pension plans, you don’t have to take and income unless you need to.

Although for most expats a pension income is required it is not compulsory. Therefore, QNUPS can be ideal for accepting investments that you can no long contribute to, such as ISA’s. QNUPS as a capital asset are more tax efficient than ISA.

There are many more questions which can be posed and you may need to add some of your own. If you want to ask a question, request a referral to a suitably qualified adviser or just comment, please email me.

David Goodall
Financial Pages in Spain

Friday, 19 August 2011

QROPS Pensions – Questions and Answers

Updated with readers questions

·        Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes
·        Is there a minimum amount for QROPS?
·        Explaining New Zealand QROPS
·        You can move your UK pension assets to QROPS
·        Who can advise me best?
·        QROPS must be approved by UK HMRC

Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS) were introduced in April 2006, by the UK Government, as part of a process called Pensions Simplification. However, it remains very complex!

In this ‘Question and Answer’ format should be the main issues for those of you who live in Spain or indeed those who intend to live in Spain. Individual queries can be sent by email

I have a frozen pension in the UK with a former employer. I’d rather have control myself so can I have a SIPP?
A SIPP is a possibility but not the only one. A pension transfer to QROPS is another. You need to have the full range of options available. The Financial Services Authority in the UK (FSA) requires pension transfers to be handled by a transfer specialist specifically authorised through their qualifications. Please email me for a referral

I’m only 45 years old and have a pension fund worth £33,500. I’ve been told that I can’t cash it in even though it’s in the UK and I’ve lived in Spain for 7 years. What would you advise?
If you have no intention of moving back to the UK, it is worth considering transferring your existing fund to a recognised alternative, approved by the UK tax authorities (HMRC). There will be a number of alternatives so your current and future circumstances need to be considered.

What’s the minimum amount I can transfer into a QROPS?
Some advisers regard sums of under £100,000 as ‘small pots’ not worth transferring. However, with extremely low annuity rates and poor rates under the GAD rules, readers, with less than £100,000 to be transferred, need and deserve advice. New Zealand QROPS, which I have dealt with, are certainly worth readers looking at. Let me recommend an adviser, click here. If your adviser says your fund is too small – seek a new adviser!

Is the transfer into a QROPS expensive?
The main cost associated with a QROPS is the preliminary registered scheme
transfer work that is required before your pension assets can pass into a QROPS. This is specialist work and I’ve never thought cheapest is best in professional advice. However, it must be reasonable. A really good financial adviser, who is properly authorised and regulated, will put the costs in writing, before expecting you to sign up to their scheme. I’m happy to recommend such an adviser if you contact me here. Please be aware that some advisers  don’t tell you the costs in an open and unambiguous way. Always seek clarification.

As part of my ‘second opinion’ option, if you have a report which is unclear, send it to me and I will give my thoughts.

I’m happy with the investment in my SIPP, why can’t I transfer it to QROPS?
If an adviser indicates that you cannot transfer your existing pension investment to QROPS they are wrong. This type of transfer is known as an ‘In-Specie transfer’. It is acceptable in QROPS because to meet the rules in the UK the investment has to be approved. If the investment is acceptable in  UK pension funds then it is perfectly satisfactory in QROPS.

Some advisers have difficulty in distinguishing between their own business model and the rules! To avoid such advisers, please email me

What can I invest my QROPS assets in?
There is a flexible choice open to you and part of a good adviser’s process is to determine and agree an investment strategy which closely matches your needs. Your attitude to investment risk is also key, since it will indicate the asset classes that you should use and those to avoid.

Will any benefits I take from QROPS be taxed?
QROPS income is generally not taxed at source. The tax treatment of what you receive is very favourably treated in Spain, though you need individual advice to explain how it affects you.

What will happen to my QROPS when I die?
Any funds remaining when you die will either be paid to those nominated by you as beneficiaries or those same beneficiaries may simply continue deriving the same tax free advantages you were enjoying in your lifetime.

Are there any circumstances in which I shouldn’t transfer to a QROPS?
If you want the certainty of income and are prepared to hand over your fund to a pension provider, then an annuity might suit you better than QROPS. I would not suggest you to transfer to QROPS if you intend to be expatriate for less than six years, but you need advice from an authorised and regulated adviser.

I’ve heard about unscrupulous QROPS providers and intermediaries, any
In May 2008, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) withdrew status from all Singapore based QROPS. Despite an appeal by a Singapore Trustee, the actions of HMRC have been upheld in the UK Courts.This action emphasises the importance of taking independent advice from industry experts who are in regular contact with HMRC to ensure that any transfers do not nor are likely to fall foul of HMRC regulations. The best advisers can also offer a choice of QROPS based in more than one jurisdiction. Ask to be introduced

Which is the best QROPS jurisdiction?
The only honest answer is that it depends on personal circumstances and can also be determined by an individuals own preferences. I can say that for Spanish residents the worst jurisdiction for QROPS would be Spain!

If the pension value is quite modest and you have been UK non-resident for more than five full and complete tax years, then New Zealand is a credible jurisdiction. Under these circumstances you have the option to encash your pension plan.

By being open and frank with an authorised and regulated adviser, a plan can emerge which has to be in the individuals best interests. If you email me, please give me a brief outline of your circumstances and what your immediate objectives might be. I will ensure that you get authorised and regulated advice. If you live in Spain and are considering a Pension Transfer (including QROPS), the adviser that I recommend will regulated by one or more of the following;

Comision Nacional del Mercado del Valores is the principal financial services regulator in Spain and responsible for authorising investment products.

Direccion General de Seguros y Fondos de Pensions is the Spanish regulator for insurance products which can be marketed in Spain.

The Financial Services Authority – the UK’s financial services regulator.

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If you have a further question, I’d be delighted to answer it. Those of you who live in Spain or intend to live in Spain should be very careful when choosing an adviser. You can write to me with your personal experiences or to be put in touch with a recommended adviser Email me here

For most people, a pension fund is their second biggest asset. Do not get involved with unauthorised and unscrupulous ‘advisers’.