Sunday, 22 March 2015

2015: UK Budget, Pensions & QROPS

Also looking from the perspective of a British Expat in Spain

From the changes first announced in the 2014 Budget through to the immediate changes last year, the UK Autumn Statement, changes to QROPS recently enacted and on to the last Budget of the current Parliament, one thing is for sure:

UK Pensions will not be the same again!

All of the changes I want to outline, which affect Expats will make one HUGE assumption: Unless you take fully Authorised & Regulated Advice you cannot possibly know the full picture. An advert for QROPS in a newspaper does not take into account YOUR personal circumstances and probably ignores the fundamental changes.

There is NO ‘one size fits all’ approach to pensions anymore, even if there ever was!

Please enquire about regulated advice

UK Pension changes in summary

·        There is no longer the need to convert a pension fund at retirement into an annuity and pension drawdown becomes much more flexible
·        In addition those already in receipt of an annuity can enquire about trading them in for a lump sum though from 2016 not immediately
·        The Pension Commencement Lump Sum (known in the UK as tax-free-cash) does not change but can be taken in a series of lump sums. It still represents 25% of the total fund
·        The fund which remains can be taken in lump sums rather than evenly by month or annually but this is treated as income and therefore taxable
·        If all of the fund is withdrawn as one lump sum, there is the potential for a Huge tax bill at higher rates of tax
·        Please note the give away to these changes: It may be more flexible for those with pension plans but in the next three tax years the UK Treasury will collect INCREASED tax from pension income.

I am more than happy to refer you to a UK Pensions Specialist if you email me with an outline of your circumstances


Many people had assumed that the UK Government would merely replicate the new UK rules to QROPS – but they are NOT

QROPS now become more complex because different jurisdictions will have different rules. Principally, the flexible rules applying to UK pensions, don’t apply to QROPS from April 2015. Those who already have QROPS, are in the process of moving to QROPS or are concerned about the future can contact me  Don’t expect to hear from an existing provider!

In addition, QROPS benefits cannot be taken before age 55.

Even if I cannot answer your queries, I can refer you to a suitably qualified Pensions Specialist

These are fundamental changes but with the correct professional advice, you can get the best from them. Don’t be concerned or worried just ask!

David Goodall
Financial Pages in Spain
And the NEW Facebook Page

Further Reading:

Scam Watch Just say NO to cold calls

Professional Advice Always best

La Torre Fx- Foreign Exchange beating the banks on bank transfers!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

UK Pension Schemes or Plans but you have emigrated?

Ask for a review, without obligation, with a UK AUTHORISED adviser with experience of helping expats. UK Budget changes to Pensions make this VITAL

Types of schemes, options and regulated advice

It seems that every year, in the UK, there are new laws, new regulations, new ideas or changes to pension plans or schemes. Just to complicate matters there are still many arrangements which have different names! The changes announced in March 2015 are fundamental

UK Pension Plans and Schemes

Here are a list (and it probably isn’t exhaustive) of the titles sometimes used for pension plans. If you have one but don’t understand what it is, please email me.

PPP – Personal Pension Plan
SIPP – Self Invested Personal Pension
GPP – Group Personal Pension Plan
S32 – Section 32 Pension Transfer Plan
ShP - Stakeholder Pensions
PPTP – Personal Pension Transfer Plan
UP – Unsecured Pension
ID – Income Drawdown
ASP – Alternatively secured pension     
AVC – Additional Voluntary Contributions
FSAVC – Free Standing Additional Voluntary Contributions
COMPS – Contracted Out Money Purchase Scheme
CIMPS – Contracted In Money Purchase Scheme
EPP – Executive Pension Plan
RAC – Retirement Annuity Contract
Section 226 Annuities
Superannuation Schemes
SSAS – Small Self Administered Scheme
OPS – Occupational Pension Scheme
DBS – Defined Benefits Scheme
FSP – Final Salary Scheme (DBS & FSP are the same – different names)
S2P – State Second Pension
GPS – Graduated Pension Scheme
SERPS – State Earnings Related Pension Scheme
BSP - Basic State Pension
SRP – State Retirement Pension (BSP & SRP are the same)

Maybe, you’ve even got something with a name not covered here! Please email me if you want anything explained!

Even when you have understood the plan or scheme you have, there could be a whole variety of rules and regulations that you don’t understand.

What are Your Options?

This is not meant to be exhaustive and is generic, you really need to consult a reputable authorised pension adviser.

·        Do nothing
This is very much the worst option. If your circumstances are changed, including emigrating, you need to know the affect on your pension arrangements

  • Take the benefits exactly as they were intended but transfer the pension income to Spain
This is often a good option but still needs to be reviewed. Circumstances change and you might have benefits you no longer need or you want to change the date of retirement. Many schemes have restrictive clauses which can affect your options and rights. You also need the correct tax treatment of your income.

  • Bring your pensions together in a QROPS
For most people who emigrate, this is the best option, though it also needs caution and advice from a specialist. I recommend the ‘further reading’ below. In particular, beware of adverts which promise cash settlements and benefits before normal retirement date. If it sounds too good to be true, well you know the rest. Please email me for details of a genuine specialist.

  • Bring your pensions together in a SIPP
You can certainly use this as an option. If your emigration is not permanent it could be a good one. However, the self investment aspect of a SIPP is often available within a QROPS. Not all SIPP trustees will allow investors who live outside the UK, so you certainly need specialist advice.

  • Best decision : Review your pension options with an authorised UK pension transfer adviser

August 2014
Warning from HM Government about UK Pensions
From Steve Webb, Pensions Minister
“If cold callers offer you massive returns for your pension pot that are just too good to be true, it is because they are.”
Sunday Times August 10th 2014

For most people, their Pension Fund is the biggest or second biggest asset. BEWARE Scam Watch as this post warns

David Goodall
Financial Pages in Spain

Further Reading:

QROPS Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes

Do you transfer money, bank to bank on a regular basis? You can reduce the ‘currency risk’ with La Torre Fx – Foreign Exchange This service is also better than most banks for one off transfers

Friday, 13 March 2015

Getting a ‘second opinion’

Financial Pages in Spain is happy to provide this service

I have been finding for sometime that many people come to me for a ‘second opinion’ For many differing reasons but they are unhappy with the advice they have been given and send me examples.

Rather than guesswork people also ask me to recommend Accountants, Lawyers, Surveyors and other professionals.

Some of the things people have said to me:

  • ‘ It  looked like a mass produced QROPS report with just my name and personal details changed’

  • ‘ They wanted an up front fee even to talk to me, funny they never mention that in their adverts’

  • ‘ I wasn’t convinced the advice was correct’

But they trust ‘Financial Pages in Spain’ and I am receiving comments which show a great deal of respect.

I’ll try to help. Email me

Can you help me to help you?

  • Please send me both good and bad examples of reports you have received, from financial advisers, I’ll respect your privacy
  • Tell me the names of Advisers who've given you bad advice
  • If the fees, charges and commissions are hidden in a report and not openly disclosed, please send examples

This sort of information will help everyone and help eradicate some of the greedy practices.

I may not have intended it when I started out but it seems that Financial Pages in Spain is becoming the respected second opinion.

* * * * * * *

Whatever your query, please write to me. My email is on this link

David Goodall
Financial Pages in Spain

Email me

Further Reading from Financial Pages in Spain