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Pension Transfers – the need for advice

Island in the shape of the euro signThe UK government has admitted there are not enough pension transfer specialist advisers to deal with demand, particularly in the case of more complex transfers into overseas pensions. This was the government’s response in March to a consultation launched two years ago, on whether the need to take financial advice, introduced with pension freedoms, created difficulties for overseas residents – residents such as those living in Cyprus wishing to transfer their pension savings from the UK to a qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme (QROPS).

According to data from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), there were just short of 10,000 transfers to a QROPS in the 2016/2017 tax year. However, from these, only transfers of more than £30,000 would be subject to the advice requirement.

Tops Tips to Avoid Pension Transfer Scamming

Stop message painted on roadThe Pensions Regulator (TPR) has recently acknowledged that pension scammers are being caught out and hindered by action from the government, regulators, the Work and Pensions Committee, and the wider industry, but added that vigilance is still needed.

On 22 May, speaking at the Association of Member-Directed Pension Schemes’ conference, TPR’s Anthony Raymond said that the plan to ban cold-calling is a welcome step-forward in protecting consumers, and that a recent High Court ruling, which saw four scammers ordered to repay £13.7million they had swindled from 245 victims, sent a clear message to fraudsters.

However, while this court action to regain funds for scam victims is brilliant news, the recommendations for pension savers are clear: stay aware of fraudulent activity and seek independent, regulated pensions advice before signing anything.

Blacktower’s top tips for scuppering the scammers

Reforms to pension tax relief may happen soon

TaxThe importance of putting money into a pension cannot be understated, and the British government has a regulation in place – the pension tax relief scheme – to encourage people to save. But many experts are predicting significant changes to the scheme. If you’re planning to retire overseas as an expat and take advantage of international pension transfers, you’ll need to stay updated with these changes.

How does pension tax relief work?

The pension tax relief scheme is an incentive to entice people to put money into their pension pot. To reward people for thinking ahead to their retirement, the government currently tops up their pension contributions based on the rate at which they pay income tax. So, basic rate taxpayers will receive 20 per cent tax relief (meaning they only need to pay £80 into their pot to get £100), while higher rate taxpayers are entitled to 40 per cent relief.

Pondering Pensions for Marbella Residents Post-Brexit

Puerto Banus, MarbellaAt the moment it there is only the slimmest possibly of a sudden and dramatic Brexit u-turn, with the consequences of the June 23 2016 referendum set to be formalised on March 31 2019. That’s why if you live in Marbella now is the time to ensure that your financial advisers in Marbella are fully attuned to all the issues that might affect you once Brexit becomes final.

Inevitably for many expats this will involve a discussion about their pension arrangements. Yes, expats already settled in the EU should continue to receive yearly inflation-accounting increases to their pensions, but as this is only guaranteed for three years, it is a quite significant caveat.

Expats a Factor in Huge Pension Withdrawals

Pile of CoinsExpat 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.

Could the UK’s state pension fund run out in 14 years?

The defined benefit scheme – whereby the employer promises the employee a specified payment upon retirement, the amount of which is calculated based on several factors including the years the contributor has been in the scheme, their age, and their salary at retirement – is no longer viable in today's world.

Recently, the high-profile collapse of the construction firm Carillion has served as yet another example of why this is the case.

The collapse means that, just like in the heavily reported case of retail giant BHS, thousands of employees are likely to have their carefully laid out retirement plans affected. Now that the company has gone into liquidation, it cannot afford to pay employees their expected pension amount, leading to yet another sizeable pensions black hole with a deficit of around £580 million (although the BBC reports that the final figure could be as high as £900 million).

UK bottom of the league for pensions, but all is not lost

Older couple walking in the countrysideIt’s a sad reality that almost every time a pension story breaks in the press, particularly when they’re regarding UK pensions, it’s rarely good news.

Unfortunately, at the beginning of December, British pensioners had to digest what was possibly the most disheartening news for a long while.

A new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), which is the world’s largest economic thinktank, has stated that the British state pension is the worst in the developed world, falling below Mexico and Chile.

Pensions may strengthen for the younger generation

Pound coinsIt’s never too early to start saving for a pension – you’ve no doubt heard that one before, perhaps while searching for pension advice online or in news reports on the financial future of pensioners in this country.

Hopefully, you took note of it and started saving as soon as you possibly could, thinking of your retirement planning long before other milestones such as getting married or having children. Maybe you left it a little later. Either way, solid financial planning, which may involve pension transfer advice from a professional financial adviser, should help you make secure financial decisions.

Young workers today don’t need to have someone to remind them that they should be saving for retirement thanks to auto-enrolment, which is a scheme that makes sure, unless they choose to opt out, all workers pay part of their salary into a private pension scheme. As almost everyone could do with starting their retirement saving as early as possible, auto-enrolment is a great idea, and now it appears that it could be the main factor in the improvement of future pension incomes, settling fears that some young savers may have regarding the prosperity of their long-term future.

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