In the past we’ve covered the subject of QROPS quite extensively, because we know that this is a very important area of financial planning for expats to explore. Getting the right plan in place for your long-term retirement savings is critical, if you’re going to ensure you can retire comfortably.
For expats, the question about how and where to save for a pension income is a big one, because there are a lot more angles to consider as soon as you move abroad. You need to take into account whether you plan to remain abroad for the long term, whether you want to retire overseas or if you have plans to return to Britain, and you need to factor in everything from currency conversion to tax when thinking about how to save and how you will ultimately draw your pension.
When HMRC introduced the concept of QROPS (qualifying recognised overseas pension schemes) into the mix, things became a lot more complex for expats! Whilst QROPS can be fantastic for probably the vast majority of qualifying expatriates, they are not right for everyone, and determining whether you’re best advised to transfer your pension to a QROPS is critical when considering what’s suitable for your longer-term income requirements. Last week we caught up with Andrew Williamson from Swiss Regent to learn how his company has come up with a unique way to help British expats get the right advice about QROPS.
Swiss Regent Product Development Manager Andrew Williamson agreed to give us a sneaky peak at his company’s brand new QROPS service for expats. The company’s QROPS Income Design service has been created to help expats access qualifying and regulated advice about their pension options in a one-stop shop approach to understanding their overall pension position.
As Mr. Williamson explained: “When it comes to pensions, anyone seeking advice has to be confident that not only are they receiving best advice, but that the advice they are receiving is from a regulated and qualified financial adviser, authorised to give advice in their particular jurisdiction. As the premier expatriate financial advisory, all of our advisers are qualified to the highest international standards, and we work to the highest ethical standards and the strictest codes of practice for our industry, therefore from the outset our clients are confident that not only are they speaking to experts, but they are in safe hands.
“In coming up with our brand new QROPS service, we took into account significant amounts of client feedback. So often we have had clients coming to us in a state of confusion about their offshore pension options. They don’t seem to be able to get a straight answer from many companies they approach, and they are often confused about the genuine benefits of QROPS.
“Swiss Regent’s new QROPS Income Design service takes a very fresh approach to helping our clients. We perform an in depth fact find with each interested client, and ensure we get everything we need from them including an LOA which is a letter of authority enabling us to go away and research their current pension holdings in depth.
“Each client is then allocated their very own personal and dedicated QROPS adviser, who has the correct qualifications and authorisation to assist them depending on their country of residence. This adviser works with our researchers to create the most comprehensive picture of the client’s pension position, and all of their options for their retirement income savings path now that they are abroad.
“As you can imagine, every single QROPS Income Design we create is absolutely unique, personalised for the individual client. This service is currently offered without cost, and it will always be presented without obligation to our clients. At the moment we’re still enhancing the service and we welcome client feedback, which is why the service is being offered without charge for a limited time only.
“Anyone who wants to get the very best information about their pension options, is welcome to try out our service for free.
“So far, an overwhelming majority of the qualifying expats we have assisted with the creation and provision of a QROPS Income Design have found the information to be so useful, they have acted upon it.”
Whilst this gives Shelter Offshore readers an excellent picture of how the service works and how it could potentially benefit them, particularly if they are time-poor and really don’t have enough hours in the day to keep going back and forth between multiple companies to try and get the best advice available, we wanted to know one more thing from Swiss Regent. So, we asked Andrew Williamson to tell us more about his company’s overall attitude to advising clients about QROPS.
“The first thing I need to say is that I am not a financial adviser, I’m just the lowly Product Development Manager! But I know that our company’s entire pension ethos is absolutely embedded and supported by every single adviser and researcher. I think even our receptionists and IT guys are clear about it! Basically we know what HMRC wanted to achieve with the creation of QROPS, they wanted to make things easier for individual expat savers and investors, and, critically, they wanted to ensure that any QROPS provides pension benefits broadly inline with those a pensioner receives in the UK.
“In other words, and to put it clearly, no Swiss Regent client would ever be advised to sign up to a QROPS that allowed them early encashment for example, or one that allowed them to take more than HMRC’s set amount in the form of a cash lump sum. Ultimately we know that at least 70% of a QROPS has to remain invested to provide the individual member with an income for life, and that this is payable no earlier than the normal minimum pension age.”
We were happy with this answer! Which is why we’re happy to post this article, and to tell Shelter Offshore readers about the QROPS Income Design service from Swiss Regent. We’d be happy to receive any reader feedback from those who have tried and tested the service so we can provide a follow up article. We look forward to hearing from you.