UK Pensions and QROPS Advice

For many expatriates, their pension income is the key to living the retirement lifestyle of their choice.

With the UK pension freedoms, you now have more options than ever for accessing your pension savings. What you can do depends on what kind of pension you have – and it could be one of the most important financial decisions you make.

Blevins Franks offers specialist, personalised pensions advice to help you find the most suitable course of action for your individual circumstances and objectives.

Defined contribution pensions

If you have a defined contribution (‘money purchase’) pension, what you can take out depends on how much has been paid in over the lifetime of the fund. When you’re able to start accessing your pension, you could choose to:

  • Withdraw the whole amount as a lump sum and reinvest in a more tax-efficient arrangement
  • Take a regular income or withdrawals when it suits you with a flexible drawdown pension
  • Receive a secure regular retirement income through buying an annuity
  • Transfer into a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) that may provide more benefits than your current scheme if you’re an expatriate  

Defined benefit pensions

A defined benefit (‘final salary’) pension is where a company promises to pay a fixed proportion of your salary for the whole of your retirement.

If you have a defined benefit scheme, you could potentially transfer into a defined contribution scheme or, if you’re an expatriate, into a QROPS, but you may lose valuable benefits. It’s essential to seek professional advice to carefully weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of transferring and understand the long-term implications. Often people are better off staying where they are, but in some cases transferring may be suitable.

Legally, transfers out of schemes worth over £30,000 can only be done with advice from a pension transfer specialist who is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK.

Blevins Franks Financial Management Limited is authorised and regulated by the FCA with a number of fully qualified pension transfer specialists.

Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS)

A QROPS can be a suitable way for expatriates to bring their pension with them when they relocate. However, it’s not necessarily the right approach for everyone and there are many variations on offer. You should also be wary of scams using QROPS as a way to defraud people out of their pension savings.

It’s vital to speak to a regulated adviser like Blevins Franks before you make any decisions. We’ll outline your full range of options, not only QROPS, to establish the best pension solution for your particular circumstances.

If you decide that a QROPS is right for you, we’ll help you find a suitable product and navigate the complex tax and jurisdiction issues across the UK and your country of residence.

Qualifying Non-UK Pension Schemes (QNUPS)

A QNUPS is similar to a QROPS in that it’s a type of pension plan and pays out benefits in a similar way. What’s different is that you can increase the value of your retirement fund by transferring or contributing non-UK pension assets.

In the right circumstances, a QNUPS can offer a highly flexible and tax-efficient wealth planning structure. However, much depends on your country of residence and personal situation, so professional advice is crucial.  

Our pensions advice

Pension planning for expatriates can be a minefield and there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Before making any decisions about your pension, you should assess all the options available to establish what’s best for you and your particular circumstances.

Blevins Franks’ expertise is available through our locally-based Partners and our specialist pension advisory service. We offer a range of solutions to suit UK nationals in Spain, France, Portugal, Cyprus, Malta and the UK.

First, we carefully analyse the pros and cons of each option available to you, including the tax implications. We then advise on how best to structure your pension arrangements to meet your particular needs.