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Useful Tips to Consider for In Specie Transfers

It is quite common for members and their advisors to consider an in-specie transfer of assets from one pension scheme to another. Elaine Turtle, Director at DP Pensions, discusses that certain matters need to be taken into account.

Cash transfers

Firstly, if the assets being transferred are actually going to be encashed once transferred over then there is little point in doing this as an in specie transfer, as the timescale for an in specie transfer can be from 4 weeks to 3 months! So if the plan is to encash rather than transfer in specie, we recommend that you have the SIPP set up and the account opened with the new Investment Manager in advance and at that point you can tell the existing Pension Provider / Investment Manager to sell down the assets and we will request the cash transfer – this usually means we will have funds within 10 days and they can be moved across immediately to the new Investment Manager once received. This is normally the quicker option if the portfolio is being re-jigged.

A partial in specie transfer

If the plan is to just transfer some assets in specie (and the rest as cash) it might be worth considering doing a partial transfer first of the cash and then go back for the in-specie transfer after the cash is received. The reason for this is that most Providers only transfer cash once the in specie is completed so cash can be sitting for some time out of the market and transferring the cash first can help avoid this. This can only be done if the member is not fully crystallised and the value that is transferred is equal to or below the value of the uncrystallised amount. There will also usually be 2 charges from the existing Pension Provider as there will be 2 transfers. Also note in specie transfers usually incur a charge whilst a cash transfer might not. Always best to check with the investment provider first on your options and charges.

Full in specie transfer

So, if in specie is the best way forward then we will require a list of existing assets before the transfer can be requested to check that all the investments held are in the Permitted Investment section of our Investment List. Our Investment List complies with the FCA’s Standard Asset list. Please note if a stock has been delisted or is suspended, we won’t accept this and, in fact, they can’t be transferred. It means that the account with the existing Investment Manager can’t be closed and so the existing Pension Plan can’t be moved either. It will mean having two Pension Plans going forward until the suspended funds can be moved or are written off and that is the same for delisted stock. During which time you might be charged two sets of fees (one from each pension provider).

Time expectations

Once the stock/ assets have been checked as acceptable to us we will then complete the discharge forms for the other Pension Provider and send these off – please note the Origo system does not deal with in specie transfers.

If the in specie is staying with the existing Investment Manager / stockbroker then this should make matters much quicker. So, it helps if when you send our SIPP opening forms that you send us the account opening forms for the Investment manager / stockbroker so we can have the account opened quickly ready to deal with the in specie transfer. The Investment manager /Stockbroker must wait on instructions from the existing Pension Provider. Once instructions are sent off to the existing Pension Provider, we will leave it 2 weeks before we chase and then chase weekly after that.

Once we have confirmation that the investments/ stock has been transferred we will request a valuation again to review this against the original list to make sure all the assets have been transferred. If cash has been received as part of the transfer, then we will move this across to the Investment manager / stockbroker if that has been requested. This cash will also be used to settle our fees and any fees being paid to your financial adviser.

Pension Scams

One thing we need to look out for on a transfer is that the new Scheme is not part of a scam. Please see our link on our website with regards to We pledge to combat pension scams and protect savers

Metro Bank

Here is Metro Bank’s announcement to the London Stock Exchange.

“Response to press speculation

Metro Bank notes the recent press speculation regarding a potential capital raise. Following Metro Bank’s update on capital planning on 12 September 2023, the Company continues to consider how best to enhance its capital resources, with particular regard to the £350m senior non-preferred notes due in October 2025. The Company continues to meet its minimum regulatory capital requirements and had a total capital plus MREL ratio of 18.1% and a leverage ratio of 4.4% as at 30 June 2023.

The Company is evaluating the merits of a range of options, including a combination of equity issuance, debt issuance and /or refinancing and asset sales. No decision has been made on whether to proceed with any of these options.

For three consecutive quarters ended 30 June 2023, the bank has been profitable on an underlying basis, and it expects the Q3 trading update to show continued momentum in Personal and Business Current Account growth and customer acquisition, in line with expectations. Metro Bank continues to be well positioned for future growth.”  05/10/2023

Source: https://otp.tools.investis.com/clients/uk/metro_bank_plc/rns/regulatory-story.aspx?cid=1352&newsid=1720003

Spring Budget 2023

We thought it would be helpful to provide you with an update regarding the changes that have been announced in the Spring Budget 2023, if you have any queries please speak to a financial adviser. If you do not have a financial adviser we recommend that you take advice from an FCA regulated financial adviser to discuss your options. Please note that we are not authorised to provide financial or investment advice but we are happy to assist with technical issues.

Contribution Limits

The following changes have been confirmed:

• The Annual Allowance is the maximum amount of contributions (personal and employer) that can be made to registered pension schemes each year. The annual allowance is currently £40,000 and this will be increasing to £60,000 from 6th April 2023 – carry forward will still be available from the 3 previous tax years
• If you have taken a pension payment under flexi-access drawdown from a defined contribution pension scheme, the amount of contributions that you can make to these schemes is reduced from £40,000 to £4,000 per annum. From the 6th April 2023 the £4,000 limit is being increased to £10,000.
• The Tapered Annual Allowance was introduced on the 6th April 2016 and since April 2020 anyone with taxable income over £240,000 wishing to make contributions to registered pension schemes had their annual allowance reduced by £1 for every £2 of income they had over £240,000. This tapering stopped when an individual’s allowance reached £4,000 for contributions. The budget has confirmed that the Tapered Annual Allowance will be increasing from £4,000 to £10,000 from 6th April 2023.
• The adjusted income threshold for the Tapered Annual Allowance is also increasing from £240,000 to £260,000 from 6th April 2023.

Lifetime Allowance

There have been some significant changes announced in respect of the Lifetime Allowance which in turn has affected the level of Pension Commencement Lump Sum (Tax Free Cash) that is available to individuals:

• The Lifetime Allowance is the total amount of money that an individual can build up in their pension scheme(s) before a tax charge is applied. The Lifetime Allowance tax charge is being removed from the 6th April 2023 and the Lifetime Allowance will be totally abolished from the 2024/2025 tax year. This means that an individuals pension fund can build up to any level without any tax charges being applied.
• Although the Lifetime Allowance is being abolished the maximum tax free lump sum that an individual will be able to take from their pension funds will be frozen at £268,275 (25% of £1,073,100 the current Lifetime Allowance). Anyone with tax free cash protection or with valid Lifetime Allowance protection for example Enhanced Protection or Fixed Protection will still keep their entitlement to a higher tax free lump sum.
• Members with Enhanced Protection or Fixed Protection (applied for before 15th March 2023) will be able to accrue new pension benefits with effect from 6th April 2023 without losing their protection.

About this document

This update is based on our understanding of pension’s law and regulation.

Every care has been taken to ensure that it is correct. It is issued by DP Pensions Ltd for use by our pension clients and their advisers.

Please note that DP Pensions Ltd are not authorised to give financial advice. We do not know all of your circumstances or details of any other pension schemes of which you are a member. You should contact your financial adviser for help on how this legislation may affect you personally.

No responsibility to any third party is accepted if this information is used for any other purpose. The legislation and HMRC practice may change in the future.

If you have any queries regarding the information in this update and how it affects your circumstances then please contact your financial adviser.

We pledge to combat pension scams and protect savers

The pensions industry plays a vital role in protecting saves and helping fight pension scammers.

We will raise awareness, educate and protect pension savers. We pledge to combat pension scams. We will:

  • Regularly warn members about pension scams
  • Encourage members asking for cash drawdown to get impartial guidance from Pension Wise
  • Get to know the warning signs of a scam and best practice for transfers by completing the scams module in the Trustee Toolkit and encourage all relevant staff or trustees to do so
  • Study and use the resources on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) ScamSmart website, our scams information and the PSIG code
  • Consider becoming a member of the Pension Scams Industry Forum by contacting PSIG
  • Report concerns about a scam to the authorities and communicate this to the scheme member

What this means for you and your pension

Scammers can be difficult to spot and might seek to exploit your trust. We’re already committed to protecting our members, but we want to go one step further. Working together, we will help protect you by pledging following the principles of the pledge to combat pension scams. We have self-certified to The Pensions Regulator that we meet the standards of the pledge.

For more information:

www.tpr.gov.uk

Don’t let a scammer enjoy your retirement

Scammers are targeting pension pots of all sizes. Make sure you know how to spot the warning signs and how to keep your pension safe.

Pension scams can be hard to spot. Scammers can be articulate and financially knowledgeable, with credible websites, testimonials and materials that are hard to distinguish from the real thing.

How pension scams work

Scammers usually contact people out of the blue via phone, email or text, or even advertise online.

Scammers design attractive offers to persuade you to transfer your pension pot to them (or to release funds from it). It is often then:

• invested in unusual and high-risk investments like overseas property, renewable energy bonds, forestry, storage units;
• invested in more conventional products, but within an unnecessarily complex structure which hides multiple fees and high charges; or
• simply stolen outright.

The warning signs

Scam offers often include:

• Free pension reviews
• Higher returns – guarantees they can get you better returns on your pension savings
• Help to release cash from your pension, even though you’re under 55 (an offer to release funds before age 55 is highly likely to be a scam).
• High pressure sales tactics – the scammers may try to pressure you with ‘time limited offers’ or even send a courier to your door to wait while you sign documents.
• Unusual investments – which tend to be unregulated and high risk, and may be difficult to sell if you need access to your money.
• Complicated structures where it isn’t clear where your money will end up.
• Long-term pension investments – which mean it could be several years before you realise something is wrong.

4 simple steps to protect yourself from pension scams

Step 1 – Reject unexpected offers:

If you’re contacted out of the blue about a pension opportunity, chances are it’s high risk or a scam. If you get a cold call about your pension, the safest thing to do is to hang up – it’s illegal and probably a scam.

Be wary of offers of free pension reviews. Professional advice on pensions is not free – a free offer out of the blue from a company you have not dealt with before is probably a scam.

And don’t be talked into something by someone you know. They could be getting scammed, so check everything yourself.

Step 2 – Check who you’re dealing with:

• Check the Financial Services Register to make sure that anyone offering you advice or other financial services is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and they are permitted to provide those services in relation to pensions.
• If you don’t use an FCA-authorised firm, you also won’t have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. So you’re unlikely to get your money back if things go wrong. If the firm is on the FCA Register, you should call the Consumer Helpline on 0800 111 6768 to check the firm is permitted to give pension advice. Beware of fraudsters pretending to be from a firm authorised by the FCA, as it could be what we call a ‘clone firm’. Use the contact details provided on the FCA Register, not the details they give you.

Step 3 – Don’t be rushed or pressured:

• Take your time to make all the checks you need – even if this means turning down an ‘amazing deal’. Be wary of promised returns that sound too good to be true and don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision.

Step 4 – Get impartial information or advice:

You should seriously consider seeking financial guidance or advice before changing your pension arrangements.

MoneyHelper – provides free independent and impartial information and guidance. www.moneyhelper.org.uk
Pension Wise – If you’re over 50 and have a defined contribution (DC) pension, Pension Wise offers pre-booked appointments to talk through your retirement options at: www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en/pensions-and-retirement/taking-your-pension/pension-wise
Financial advisers – It’s important you make the best decision for your own personal circumstances, so you should seriously consider using the services of a financial adviser. If you do opt for an adviser, be sure to use one that is regulated by the FCA and never take investment advice from the company that contacted you or an adviser they suggest, as this may be part of the scam.

If you suspect a scam, report it.

• Report to Action Fraud – If you suspect a scam you should report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at www.actionfraud.police.uk
• If you’ve agreed to transfer your pension and now suspect a scam, contact your pension provider straight away. They may be able to stop a transfer that hasn’t taken place yet. If you are unsure of what to do contact MoneyHelper for help on 0800 011 3797.

Be ScamSmart with your pension. To find out more, visit www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart

Download

Pensions Scam Leaflet

Property Information Bulletin June 2022

We are sending you this update to make you aware of a number of matters regarding property held in the pension scheme that you have with us. Please read the update carefully and take any necessary steps to ensure you continue to comply with the requirements of pension scheme property ownership.

As you are aware, you are the property manager of any property held in your scheme (unless you employ a professional property manager to manage your scheme property). You are ultimately responsible for the day to day management of the property and for meeting any property ownership requirements.

Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) – changes from 1 April 2023 requiring all let properties to have an EPC grade A – E

As you may already be aware from 1 April 2018 it became unlawful to let a commercial building with an energy efficiency rating of F or G unless one of a small number of exemptions applied. That was brought in under the Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) (England and Wales) Regulations 2007. So any new lettings completed since 1 April 2018 must have an EPC grade of A-E.

From 1 April 2023 this will be extended to apply to all existing leases. This means that by 1 April 2023 all let properties in schemes must show a valid, in date EPC with a rating of A-E.

Please check what EPCs you currently have for your property(/ies). If they are out of date, or you do not have one then one must be obtained. For any that are a grade F or G, the necessary recommendation steps must be taken to improve the grading to an A – E.

If you have not already done so, please provide us with a copy of any EPCs that you have so we can update our records. Please also contact us if you have any issues obtaining an EPC, or where the grade is below an E.

Insurance (increased rebuild costs) – make sure you check your cover

Following on from our last Property Mailshot (in May 2021) we highlighted the hardening of the commercial property insurance market. We had seen insurers increasing the amount of information required to provide quotations, delays in obtaining quotations and increased premiums.

We are all aware of the current high rates of inflation. Our block policy insurance broker, Lockton, have also made us aware that there have been significant increases in the costs associated with property building works. As a result, please make sure that you are satisfied that the level of your existing insurance cover for rebuild/reinstatement costs are sufficient.

All members (whether under our Lockton block policy or where your own chosen insurance is in place) should review cover and check to make sure that the declared values / reinstatement / rebuild level of cover is correct – bearing in mind the increased costs at present. As always professional advice should be sought and a valuation obtained if you are unsure about the level of cover required.

If you hold insurance with Lockton please contact us if you wish to make any updates to your cover in light of this. If you have your own insurance please provide us with a copy of any updated policy if you do make any changes.

HMRC – rules regarding rent payments from connected parties – a reminder

Where a pension scheme lets its property to a “connected party”, such as the member’s own business, then there are strict rules that apply. These rules include the requirement for rent to be set by an independent red book valuation, for the tenant to pay its rent in full and on time, and the rules prevent the pension scheme allowing outstanding rent to be deferred or written off.

However, during the first phase of the pandemic, HMRC recognised that some businesses were encountering significant hardship and some allowances were made that relaxed the usual connected party requirements. For example, if a connected tenant was able to evidence that they were unable to meet their rent payment obligations, then rent deferrals were permitted in some cases.

However, HMRC have now issued guidance reminding providers and members of the usual pre-pandemic requirements regarding connected party transactions. Therefore connected party transactions must be treated as if they are on an arm’s length basis, with rents set by independent red book valuation, and all rent due to the scheme must be paid in full (this is the case in all cases, bar very few exceptional situations).

Scottish Property – be aware of this change if you have a Scottish property in your scheme

Under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 (Register of Persons Holding a Controlled Interest in Land) Regulations 2021 (‘the Regulations’), from 1 April 2022 a change to the Scottish property title register came into force. It requires all property to have (controlling) interested parties noted on the title with the aim of it being clear from the title who owns or controls a particular building or piece of land.

Any member who holds Scottish property in their scheme is being asked to review their title to ensure ownership is properly noted. Legal advice may be required to ensure the new title requirements are met.

Property Regulations/Legal Requirements – please be aware of responsibility for these

Where a property is let, the Lease usually specifies that compliance with laws and regulations in respect of the property fall to the tenant. However that is not always the case, it depends on the terms of the Lease/Licence and if there are any shared or communal areas these generally remain the duty of the property owner. If a property is vacant then regulations will remain with the owner.

The type of regulations that need to be considered and met are Fire Risk Assessments, Gas and Electrical Safety, Asbestos management, Legionella (water) management, and many others may also apply. It is your responsibility to ensure you establish what is required for your property and make sure any requirements/regulations are met.

There is also a duty on property owners to be forthcoming with information to their insurers, with details of reports or regulations in place so we would also urge you to provide any such details to your insurer. If your insurance is under our block policy with Lockton please contact us with the relevant information and we can forward this on to them.

Vacant Property – what happens where there is no tenant?

It remains the case that there are a higher than usual number of vacant commercial properties across the country. If your scheme is holding a vacant property at any time (unless it is being developed or there is an imminent plan to sell) you must actively market the property and keep us and any relevant insurer up to date with the occupation of the property and you must adhere to any relevant vacant property insurance conditions.

When the property is vacant the pension scheme will be liable for business rates (once any empty property rate relief period has ended) and will also be liable for any service charges and standing charges for utilities etc. You must make arrangements for these to be directed to the pension scheme for payment whilst the property is vacant.

It is also important to be aware that if the property is vacant all responsibility for compliance with regulations such as fire safety and asbestos fall to the pension scheme. You must ensure that these are fully complied with.

Once a new tenant is found and you have notified us, we will provide you with our Property Letting Guidance Notes and Letting Form for completion.

Residential property – you must not hold residential property in your pension scheme.

We always like to take the opportunity to remind members that taxation rules still make holding residential property in your pension scheme prohibitive (bar a very few exceptions).

Generally speaking schemes cannot invest in taxable property . Taxable property consists of residential property and most tangible moveable property. In respect of property the list includes:

  • a building or structure that is used or suitable for use as a dwelling.
  • any related land that is wholly or partly the garden for the building or structure,
  • any related land that is wholly or partly grounds for the residential property and which is used or intended for use for a purpose connected with the enjoyment of the building,
  • any building or structure on any such related land,
  • in limited situations a hotel, which includes an inn, or similar accommodation, will be counted as taxable property though this will only be where it provides accommodation rights such as timeshare. See https://www.gov.uk/hmrc-internal-manuals/pensions-tax-manual/ptm125200
  • a beach hut
  • any building specified in Regulations as residential property.

Pensions Tax Manual on taxable property is at: https://www.gov.uk/hmrc-internal-manuals/pensions-tax-manual

Please contact us if you have any concerns or queries regarding the above.

About this document

This update is based on our understanding of pension’s law and regulation.

Every care has been taken to ensure that it is correct. It is issued by DP Pensions Ltd for use by our pension clients and their advisers.

Please note that DP Pensions Ltd are not authorised to give financial advice. We do not know all of your circumstances or details of any other pension schemes of which you are a member. You should contact your financial adviser for help on how this legislation may affect you personally.

No responsibility to any third party is accepted if this information is used for any other purpose. The legislation and HMRC practice may change in the future.

If you have any queries regarding the information in this update and how it affects your circumstances then please contact your financial adviser.

Financial Adviser update June 2022

We wanted to make you aware of a couple of changes to processes that we have bought in due to changes in legislation:

  1. The Stronger Nudge

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has finalised it’s rules regarding “The Stronger Nudge” which became effective from 01/06/2022. The rules require us to encourage a retail client to take pensions guidance if they have not be advised by a regulated financial adviser. The rules also apply when an application is received from the member directly, regardless of whether the member is advised or not.

The processes that this new legislation covers include when a member takes benefits from their plan, transfers in another plan to their SIPP in order to take benefits from it, transfers out from their SIPP or when a beneficiary elects to set up a pension plan.

We have updated our member benefits form, application forms and additional transfer form accordingly and these can be found on our website or can be obtained directly from your dedicated account manager.

  1. Transfers out

As you know new rules on transfers out came into force at the end of November 2021. The Pensions Regulator requires us to complete specific due diligence on the receiving arrangement and the investments within it before a transfer out can be finalised. The level of due diligence required depends on the type of receiving scheme.

Carrying out this due diligence may result in us having to call your client to ask questions about how funds in the receiving scheme will be invested eg in overseas investments, and the costs and charges of the new arrangement and investments. Unfortunately we have to make these enquiries directly with the client rather than through yourselves as we normally would. Depending on the answers your client gives we may also need to refer them to the Governments MoneyHelper for guidance before we can process their request to transfer.

As all providers have to carry out this due diligence it may impact the time taken for transfers in to us to be processed as well whilst the transferring schemes complete their due diligence.

We will endeavor to continue to process transfers smoothly and with as little disruption as possible and will copy you in on any correspondence that we send to your client with regard to the transfer.

Property Planning Information Bulletin January 2021

As you may be aware the government has indicated there will be some relaxation of planning rules and we understand that this may include making it easier to obtain permission to convert some vacant commercial properties to residential.

With this in mind we wanted to contact you to remind you about the very strict HMRC rules surrounding property ownership within your pension scheme, in particular the fact that residential property must not be held within your scheme.

What property can your pension scheme own?

The following lists are not exhaustive but aim to give a brief overview.

You pension can own:

• Freehold/Leasehold commercial land and buildings like offices, shops, factories.
• Land for development.
• Agricultural land.
• Hotels, care homes, halls of residence – subject to certain restrictions.

Your pension cannot own:

• residential property like houses, flats, holiday homes, buy to lets or holiday lets
• any land that is wholly or partly the garden or grounds of a residential property
• Residential Ground rents – which are a type of long leasehold – held in relation to residential property
• Overseas property

Development

If, during the pension scheme’s ownership of a property any type of development is intended, please let us know immediately so that we can discuss proposals with you to ensure no breaches of HMRC rules.

Although your scheme can apply for residential planning please be aware that no form of the residential development can be carried out by a pension scheme and, the property would have to be sold before any residential development was physically commenced.

The property must be legally classed as commercial throughout the pension scheme’s ownership. As such Business Rates should be paid in respect of the property – not Council Tax (which applies only to residential properties).

If you have queries regarding development then please request a copy of our separate Property Development Guide in the first instance.

Consequences of failure to adhere to HMRC rules

If a scheme directly or indirectly acquires or holds taxable property (residential property or tangible moveable property) this will create an unauthorised payment charge on the member personally (or in some cases on the sponsoring employer) whose scheme acquires the asset. The unauthorised payment tax charge is 40% of the amount of the unauthorised payment (i.e. the purchase price/property value).

There is also a scheme sanction charge of 15% and if the investment exceeds 25% of the fund value then an additional tax charge of 15% applies which would take the total tax charges to 70% of the value of the property purchase price/value.

It is these significant tax charges that makes the holding of residential property prohibitive.

Full details of the consequences for failure to adhere to the HMRC rules can be found in the Pensions Tax Manual:

https://www.gov.uk/hmrc-internal-manuals/pensions-tax-manual/ptm134000

We hope this proves a helpful reminder of the rules, if you have any queries at all please do contact us.