Pile of Coins

Expats a Factor in Huge Pension Withdrawals

Expat pension needs are one of the major reasons behind the £15.3 billion the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) say was was taken from pensions during 2016/17.

The high level of withdrawals is no doubt attributable to the increased flexibility afforded UK pension savers by the introduction of landmark reforms over the past few years.

The £15.3 billion figure was disclosed following a Freedom Of Information request to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and is a massive 173% increase on the £5.6bn that was withdrawn in 2012/13.

In fact, the second quarter of 2017 saw the highest quarterly level of pension withdrawals in five years – no doubt including many expat pensions withdrawals – with more than 40,000 people withdrawing £4.3bn from their pensions.

The high level of withdrawals highlights just how bold and innovative savers can be once they are granted the freedom and flexibility to do as they wish with their pensions rather than being saddled with the passive and sometimes disempowering pension rules of a few years ago.

Many are not simply withdrawing their money and spending it or indeed investing it in the stock market. Instead, they are choosing other methods of taking their pension, including expat pension transfers such as QROPS and SIPPs.

The figures are also further proof of the moribund state of final salary schemes; many savers are taking the option of receiving a lump sum payment in exchange for the cancellation of their final salary scheme. This is an arrangement that seems to be suiting both savers and the administrators of final salary schemes.

However, there are some concerns that the level of pension withdrawals could be a sign that some savers are making irresponsible or ill-informed decisions that could place their future financial security in jeopardy. As such, every saver should consider that the freedoms afforded by the pension reforms place an additional emphasis on the need for trusted professional advice when making decisions about how to transfer or invest pensions. Any desire to scrimp in this regard is likely to prove a false economy.

Good advice can help savers make solid plans and contingencies that align with their strategies, goals and projected timescales. This is hard enough for most investment professionals to achieve, let alone the lay investor.

Interestingly, the FCA figures reveal that close to 40% of the withdrawals were made by savers between the ages of 55 and 65, with the majority taken as a lump sum; it is clear that today's savers are seeking to do things are on their own terms, but do so successfully good advice is critical.

Speak to Blacktower today for expat pension planning advice and information on the full gamut of wealth management and investing opportunities available to you as an expat.

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