Tuesday, 22 October 2013

QROPS – Comparing jurisdictions

Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS)

Always remember that QROPS are UK Pension Transfers. In the opinion of Financial Pages in Spain and the rules of the regulator Pension Transfers NEED specialist advice.

2013 – The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which replaced the FSA has made it MANDATORY that when UK advisers meet clients who have moved or intend to move abroad, they must be told about the option of QROPS. This shows how important this option has become.

As a result of many changes, there are now four major jurisdictions;

1. Malta has four distinct advantages when dealing with British and Irish clients, especially those who become residents in Spain.

  • Malta is an English speaking country
  • A low cost economy
  • A member of the European Union
  • Retirement income can be taken at age 50

After many months of negotiations, Malta as an established Financial Services Centre was given approval by HMRC to offer QROPS in November 2009. Individual trustees then need to get approval from the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA). It was not until February 2010 that the first QROPS were approved. Without question, Malta benefited most from the rules changes which became operative from  April 2012

I can recommend an adviser if you email me.

2. Switzerland is a renowned centre for financial services, with security at the heart of it’s offering. There is one aspect of Swiss QROPS which could be seen, depends on your opinion, as either an advantage or disadvantage. The QROPS must be invested 70% in Swiss funds and held in Swiss Francs.

Funds are can be invested by a Discretionary Manager based in London, regulated by the FCA.

Membership of QROPS in Switzerland is highly restrictive, but for those who qualify and prefer the Swiss franc to euro or sterling, this maybe an excellent choice

·       Minimum fund of SwFr 100,000 (work on £66,000)
·       Retirement from age 55 to aged 70
·       Must be UK non-resident for five or more complete UK tax years
·       Withdrawals taken as lump sum

Though not a member of the EU, Switzerland has many close, financial, connections with UK, Ireland and Spain. Most importantly Double Taxation Agreements are in place.

Due to the EXCLUSIVE nature of the Swiss QROPS offering, I can deal directly with clients, who will be referred to the authorised adviser. Please email me for further information

3. Gibraltar has approved QROPS and this option is developing, quickly.  Up to 30% pension commencement lump sum can be taken from age 55. Income is taxed at a flat rate tax of 2.5% and declared as income in your country of residence. There are a wide range of investments available and self investment is permitted. 

I’m happy to provide information on an individual basis if you email me

4. New Zealand remains a viable and strong option for QROPS. Please note that since April 2012 full encashment is not possible.

The principal benefits which New Zealand enjoys are;

  • Tax Free Lump Sum is 30% of the Fund Value
  • Flexible income arrangements, as long as the 70% available for income rule is maintained
  • Tax Free investment portfolio which is ‘flexible’

As always, individual circumstances will dictate, but flexibility is certainly a realistic jurisdiction to consider. Email me to have access to professional advice

Non-UK Nationals

I am aware that people of many nationalities have, from working in the UK, preserved benefits. Good news – you do not have to take benefits when the scheme says so. You may also be entitled to a UK pension transfer to QROPS. Just email for more details.


Many advisers will not compare all jurisdictions before making a recommendation. The determining of your priorities should be the overriding reason for recommending a particular QROPS. Some advisers only deal with one provider in one jurisdiction. If you’ve received a recommendation and would like a second opinion please email me.

Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS) are for professional advisers and their clients and hopefully the unqualified, unregulated imitators will disappear.

I guarantee that you will be given only REGULATED advice if you contact me (with brief details) by sending me an email.  

No upfront fee guarantee

David Goodall
Financial Pages in Spain