Transferring UK pension funds

Transferring your UK pension funds to New Zealand

If you are thinking about transferring money from your UK pension fund back to New Zealand, make sure you have all the facts before making your decision.

Please note that from 6 April 2015, changes to UK legislation mean those with UK pension funds are no longer able to transfer them into KiwiSaver.

Get independent financial advice

One of the most important things on your checklist is to get independent financial advice as this involves the management of your retirement savings.

There are costs and financial implications associated with transferring your UK pension savings to New Zealand.

We recommend you seek professional financial advice that meets your personal circumstances. Consider talking to a tax specialist.  Read our advice on choosing an adviser and pension transfer companies.

What to consider before transferring your money

Here are important questions to consider before you decide to transfer your UK pension fund:

  • benefits: what are the benefits of transferring your UK pension, will you lose any existing benefits because the benefits cannot be replicated in your NZ Qualifying Registered Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS)
  • risks:  what are the risks involved? Some transfers pose higher risk than others (see our FAQ on defined benefit scheme transfers)
  • charges: what costs apply to your UK scheme transfer, the charges for the transfer, including the foreign exchange , ongoing service and NZ QROPS scheme charges in NZ
  • penalties: what are the penalties (if any) and exit fees for the transfer of your UK scheme
  • withdrawal age: what age you can withdraw your UK pension benefits compared to the proposed NZ QROPS
  • tax benefits:  note there may not be a tax benefit - IRD’s policy on taxation of foreign superannuation is that there should be no incentive or disincentive to transfer superannuation to New Zealand compared to leaving savings overseas. We suggest you get advice from a tax specialist.

When you talk to your adviser, make sure you get written information on the following about your UK-based scheme including (but not limited to):

Analysis of your UK-based scheme

Analysis of your personalised needs and goals

a thorough assessment of any guarantees or associated benefits

your personal financial needs and financial goals

the investment fund’s options and scheme’s features

the risks of the proposed transfer fund options and scheme features

the funding and income options

the benefits of the proposed transfer specific to your situation

a balanced comparison of any other features with the proposed NZ QROPS

information on any alternative strategies that have been considered

What you need to know if you are using pension transfer companies

There are New Zealand companies offering a legitimate service to help people transfer their UK pension fund into a NZ QROPS. We have oversight of their activities under the Financial Markets Conduct Act and, if they provide financial adviser services, the Financial Advisers Act.

We have had some concerns about the way some UK pension transfer services are being promoted and sold to investors. We issued a warning about this in December 2014.

More information on the UK legislative changes to pensions that took effect in April 2015 is available here.

What you need to know when choosing an adviser

When seeking advice on a pension transfer, consider the following:

Do they have the licence to offer you advice

 

Do they have the right expertise to help with advice for transfers

Do they have expertise for personalised advice

Do they offer more than ‘execution-only’ service

Only Authorised Financial Advisers (AFAs) and certain Qualifying Financial Entity (QFE) advisers can provide personalised financial advice in relation to category 1 products.

Tax specialists cannot offer you personal advice on your savings unless they hold an AFA and QFE licence

An adviser needs to have the skills and expertise to help you make informed decisions about your UK pension transfer.

Some advisers provide advice on UK pension transfers but only on a ‘class’ basis. 

This means they won’t take into account your personal situation although they act for people like you.

‘execution only’ services do not provide any advice, so cannot tell you if the transfer is in your best interest.

They only provide information or a recommendation or opinion on the process for acquiring or disposing of a financial product

FAQs

Will I be able to get more money if I transfer my savings now, if I’m in a defined benefit scheme?

This will depend on the scheme you are in, so you should seek personalised financial advice about your individual circumstances. However the UK Government’s paper on Freedom and choice in pensions: government response to the consultation July 2014 states: “For the majority of individuals, retained membership of a defined benefit pension scheme is likely to be their best option, as defined benefit pensions offer a level of security and guaranteed indexation that defined contribution pensions do not. Furthermore, the transfer values offered when requesting to transfer out are often less than the net present value of the benefits that an individual would ultimately receive from their defined benefit pension”.

Are there any good reasons to transfer my UK pension scheme entitlements?

There may be good reasons to transfer your UK pension scheme entitlements in certain circumstances; such as if you have a relatively small holding, or are in poor health. This is why it’s important to seek personalised financial advice about your individual circumstances.

I have already transferred my pension. Have I made a mistake?

Once your pension has been transferred it may be very difficult to transfer it back. If you have concerns about a transfer you have made, you should talk to your financial adviser, transfer agent or QROPS provider. To assist with an assessment, you may need to refer to the paperwork completed at the time of your transfer.

How do I make a complaint if I am unhappy with my pension transfer?

All financial service providers who offer financial services to retail clients must belong to an independent dispute resolution scheme. You will find the name of their scheme in their disclosure documents.

Can I also get advice from the UK or from my UK scheme provider?

You can try contacting your UK scheme provider who may have a scheme administrator or adviser licensed to advise on these matters under UK legislation. There are many independent advisers in the UK that may be able to assist.

Where can I find out more?