This is a question asked by just about everyone thinking about switching their pension to a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS).
Unfortunately, the answer is not as simple as the question.
For most retirement savers, the response is: “It depends.”
With 3,506 QROPS pensions on the market in 42 financial jurisdictions, the choice is enormous and searching for the best pension can be confusing.
The best way to look at switching an onshore British pension to a QROPS is to ignore the costs and provider locations and to start with a list of what you want from your QROPS as an investor.
QROPS decision tree
The questions you need to ask include:
- When do you want to retire?
- Where will you live as an expat or overseas worker with accrued pension rights in the UK?
- How do income, capital gains and inheritance taxes interact across borders between the UK, the financial centre where your QROPS is based and the country where you are tax resident?
- What are your retirement goals?
- Where are you tax resident?
- Do you intend to move countries before or during retirement
- Do you intend to retire to the UK after living overseas for some time?
From these and many more questions about your finances and lifestyle choices, an experienced FCA regulated IFA should draw up a short list of QROPS pensions that match your retirement objectives.
QROPS or SiPP?
So, you can see the choice of QROPS is based on financial and tax issues rather than opting for a financial jurisdiction.
In fact, be aware of any IFA who pushes a financial centre from the start. It’s possible they are not a whole-of-the-market independent, but someone with a link to a specific selection of providers.
From the short-list of appropriate QROPS that meet your financial objectives, the choice of the right financial jurisdiction to base your pension will become apparent.
If you are working overseas but intend to return to the UK, a QROPS might not be the best retirement saving option.
Expats who remain tax resident in the UK can still take advantage of tax breaks at home, so a self-invested personal pension (SiPP) could be the best place to keep your retirement savings. As a UK resident, even working abroad for a few years, you can still gain from pension contribution tax relief to boost the value of your savings.