Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Switzerland QROPS – An Introduction


QROPS Week Day 3

Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS) have to be approved by the UK Tax Authorities (HMRC) in order to receive transfers from UK Pension Schemes or Plans

Switzerland, as a jurisdiction is very credible being World renowned as a Financial Centre. Not being part of the Eurozone, many expats in Europe welcome the investment in Swiss Francs which gives an element of security.

The Promoters of the scheme outlined below are only seeking low volume, high quality cases.


Key Factors

·       Pension Commencement Lump Sum (PCLS) is allowed (often called tax-free lump sum in the UK)

·       ‘Income’ in the form of capital withdrawal can be taken AFTER 5 years of UK non-residency

·       All withdrawals are subject to a Swiss tax charge of between 2.4% and 4.8%

·       Benefits can be taken at age 55 and must be taken by age 70. Individual concerns about the age range can be discussed

·       The minimum fund transfer is 100,000 Swiss Francs. As a working assumption use €82,000 or £66,000. More accurate exchange rates are available from http://www.fttcurrency.co.uk/fpspain.jsp trading as La Torre Fx – Foreign Exchange.



Fund Investment

·       Investment through an insurance bond is NOT allowed but there are arrangements in place with a London-based Discretionary Fund Manager (DFM) who can handle the investments in Swiss Francs

·       The range of investments is wide but excludes residential property and at least 70% must be in Swiss Francs


Regulation

·       All QROPS schemes are heavily regulated by the Swiss regulator


·       Switzerland is acceptable to UK HMRC due to the existence of a Double Taxation Treaty


·       Switzerland has very many Double Taxation arrangements, including importantly for expats, most of Europe, USA, Canada and South Africa


·       Swiss Residents and Non-Residents are treated equally for tax purposes, so the scheme passes the ‘fairness’ test



Advice

·       ‘Financial Pages in Spain’ will only recommend fully regulated advisers whose services and qualifications have been check. Selecting the correct QROPS jurisdiction is a key element in the role of an adviser

·       The Swiss Custodian (usually Trustee in the UK) keeps strict control over the organisations that it accepts business from. They have seen other jurisdictions disqualified by UK HMRC and are determined they will always offer a ‘clean’ service

·       ‘Know your client’ and ‘Treating Customers Fairly’ are key to good advice. I am dealing with clients myself for this scheme. If you want a discussion, without obligation, please send an outline of your circumstances and I will contact you directly by email, initially.

·       This service is available in Spain and also any country where there are expats who are not UK residents or even intending Non-UK residents


The administration of the scheme is extremely smooth, efficient and (sorry) runs like clockwork!


David Goodall
Financial Pages in Spain