HMRC confirms overseas pension transfer standards will not be eased

HM Revenue & Customs has confirmed it will maintain the requirement for savers giving up
‘safeguarded’ benefits worth £30,000 or more when transferring to an overseas pension scheme to take regulated advice from a UK-based adviser.

HMRC had been considering proposals to water down the requirement amid concerns savers wanting to use the pension freedoms to move their retirement pots abroad faced unnecessary barriers.

AJ Bell senior analyst Tom Selby commented: Easing the advice requirement for transfers of guaranteed pensions to overseas schemes could have been a recipe for disaster. We know a significant number of pension scams involve moving money to vehicles in foreign jurisdictions which often lack the protections available in the UK.

"Fraudsters would inevitably have seized on any scaling back of the advice requirement to target people with defined benefit pensions and valuable guaranteed annuity rates (GARs).

“While HMRC’s stance will make it more costly and time-consuming for people to transfer larger guaranteed pensions into overseas schemes, this seems a small price to pay to ensure members are protected.

“Indeed, with the ongoing attention being placed by the FCA on defined benefit transfer advice, it would have been odd for HMRC to water down the advice requirement for people transferring to a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS).”

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