The Financial Times reports that UK pension scam losses hit a record high in March. This is based on figures released by City of London police which show that 24 victims lost £8.6 million. The FT goes on to say that more than £42 million has been lost to "pension liberation fraud" since April 2014. You can read the complete article by Jospehine Cumbo here.
If you're thinking of investigating your UK pension transfer options, you'll want to know that you're dealing with a legitimate and qualified financial adviser. The following 8 questions may help when you're deciding with which firm you'd prefer to work.
Ask them about their qualifications, and where they were gained. You want to be sure that your adviser has earned qualifications in a country that has a suitable and recognised adviser registration process. Also, you need to enquire about their qualifications specifically in relation to pension transfers. Anyone could claim to be "an expert" but how well do they understand the complexities of transferring pension schemes between international jurisdictions? Ask them how long they've been carrying out pension transfers.
2. Do you offer one product or a range of options?
This is your pension transfer. It's important that the receiving scheme suits your preferences and requirements. One size does not fit all.
3. Would you always recommend a pension transfer?
If they answer "yes", walk away immediately. How can any professional adviser make this sweeping assumption without understanding a potential client's personal circumstances and plans?
4. If a transfer is recommended, would a QROPS be the only option?
Many people do choose to transfer their British pension to a NZ QROPS (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme). However, having weighed up the options, you may decide that moving your UK pension to a SIPP (Self-Invested Personal Pension) is a more appropriate course of action. Does your adviser offer this service?
5. Are you appropriately regulated?
New Zealand's Financial Markets Authority (FMA) provides details of unregistered businesses. These individuals and companies are not on the Financial Service Providers Register and are therefore not permitted to offer financial services in New Zealand – even if they say otherwise. Likewise, NZ registered companies (including GBPensions) which are regulated and authorised to provide financial advice in New Zealand, are not permitted to do so in any other country, unless they seek and obtain the appropriate permissions in that jurisdiction. Problems arise where advisers operate from and in jurisdictions with no regulatory controls or limits, meaning they are ultimately answerable to no-one!
6. Are you now or have you ever been on the FMA's "Warning List"?
The FMA also issues warning notices and alerts, and has a list of businesses to be wary of. These are regularly updated, so it's worth checking them periodically.
7. Have you had any experience working with pensions in the UK?
Understanding the intricacies of how each type of pension works is crucial in the decision-making process. The knowledge that can be imparted from an adviser who has lived in the UK and worked in the pension industry there, with first-hand experience of being a migrant to NZ like yourself, can make a world of difference.
8. How do you adhere to all the requirements from the regulators, both in NZ and the UK?
Have a look at their website. Is it regularly updated to reflect changes in legislation? Does it demonstrate an understanding of happenings in both jurisdictions?
The information shared here is done so in good faith, and is intended to assist with your decision-making process. You may wish to take other matters into consideration, so this should not be construed as a definitive guide to choosing a financial adviser.
If you have any follow up queries or would like to discuss any of the topics mentioned in greater detail, please don't hesitate to get in touch.
1st June 2017