What’s the Deal With UK Pensions?

Author: Andrew Gordon, CFP® – Certified Financial Planner®

Back in the day, before Brexit, before Trump, and even before Alexa, there was an agreement between Canada and the United Kingdom that expats living on Canadian soil could transfer their pensions that they funded while they were, at one time, living in the UK. The rules were less stringent and the simplicity of transferring a pension overseas was straightforward. This all came to a halt when Brexit entered the conversation prior to 2016.

In October 2019, HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs) reopened these doors and, once again, allowed expats to transfer their pensions away from the UK if they had no intention of returning to the UK to reside. They call these types of pension plans: Qualified Recognized Overseas Pension Schemes (or QROPS). It’s a mouthful. Their pension system is not that much different than what we have here in Canada, but the jargon is a tad different. From SIPPS to Platforms to Schemes and more; it’s not that you need to learn about each one of them, but it’s good to understand what you have. Our intention here is to provide an overview of the process of transferring a QROPS to Canada, which in turn, will be placed into a separate RRSP with a couple of strings attached.

These are the rules in place if this is something that you would like to explore with your Advisor:

  • You must be over 55 to entertain one of these transfers
  • There are only 2 investment companies in Canada that are approved for these transfers
  • When the funds arrive in Canada, they are immediately deposited into an RRSP. This RRSP will act like a LIRA where you cannot add funds to this plan.
  • The process to transfer takes 3-6 months to complete

Through this process, there are also many advantages for our clients:

  • Tax efficiency: You may be required to file taxes in the UK if you leave your pension there during retirement.
  • Reduced Currency Risk: Our dollar has gotten a wee bit stronger against the British Pound over the last year.
  • Wider Range of Investment options in Canada: There are investment limitations on where you can invest the pension if it stays in the UK.

There are many factors to learn about when it comes to QROPS; from transfer processes to special document requests and more. Our objective is to make the process as easy as possible but it is a very time-consuming process. Therefore it does require a lot of patience to walk through one of these transfers.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us and we’ll be more than happy to talk you through some options.

Connect Wealth is an independent financial planning firm that offers holistic advice to clients based on their current goals and future aspirations. We use well-established workflows and cutting edge technology to maximize planning efficiencies while simplifying the process for clients. Learn how you can maximize your financial opportunities at www.connectwealth.ca