CONSOLIDATION: If you have more than one UK pension, you are likely to be paying more than one set of fees and having to keep track of different pension plan performance. By transferring your pension to a SIPP or QROPS, you can consolidate your pensions into one easier to manage pension wrapper.
CONTROL: You can take control of your investment strategy and decide how your pension is invested.
FLEXIBILITY: Greater flexibility when it comes to taking retirement benefits. You can receive up to 25% of the value of your pension fund as a cash lump sum from age 55 (or in some cases for a QROPS 30% at age 50). In addition, as an alternative to buying an annuity, you could opt for "income drawdown", leaving your pension invested whilst taking a pension income.
LUMP SUM: Since 2006, all UK pension schemes are able to offer pension holders the ability to take a 25% cash lump sum free of UK tax from age 55. While most pension schemes have a lump sum availability, in many cases if you take your lump sum you also have to start taking benefits at the same time (often in the form of an annuity). With a SIPP, you can take your lump sum and leave the balance of your pension invested, deciding whether or not to start drawing an income at that time. Taking your lump sum will reduce the value of your pension, so you should take advice from an investment adviser like Florin before doing so.
FULL DEATH BENEFITS: If you die before you take benefits, then 100% of the value of your SIPP/QROPS can be paid to a beneficiary without UK inheritance tax. If you die after taking benefits, your spouse/dependent can take over your income drawdown without penalty or receive the full value of the fund less a onetime UK tax of 55%. Please note that the UK 55% tax charge is only in respect of a UK SIPP and would not apply to a QROPS (if you are not a UK resident).
UNCAPPED GROWTH POTENTIAL: If you have a deferred defined benefit scheme, the growth of your pension is likely to be capped to RPI/CPI to a maximum of 5% p.a. (or for benefits accrued after April 2009 to a maximum of 2.5% p.a.). By transferring to a SIPP or QROPS you have the potential for the uncapped growth of your pension. In addition, your benefits cannot be reduced by your former employer or pension plan administrator if your UK pension plan faces a deficit. Of course, all investments carry a certain amount of risk that you should be willing to bear. The value of investments may fall as well as rise and you may lose money.
A transfer to a QROPS, may also have certain additional tax benefits, however, these need to be considered on a case by case basis. A QROPS may not be suitable for all expatriates and can depend upon factors such as a person's country of residence.
We should note that your current pension may have certain guarantees which, upon transfer, would be lost. For this reason, it is important to get advice from an investment adviser like Florin before making any decision to transfer your pension.