A) UK PENSIONS: REGULATORS WITH NEW MANDATES & INITIATIVES
In the past there were too often reports of incorrect actions in the Pensions Industry. As beneficiaries in general will have to rely on regulators(!), it's good to see that regulators have several new mandates and new initiatives.
The UK’s Pensions Regulator (TPR) has begun to use a number of enforcement powers for the first time in efforts to deal with pension scams, scheme valuations and automatic enrolment.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulator (TPR) have yesterday launched a joint regulatory strategy aimed at strengthening their relationship and taking joint action to deliver better outcomes for pension savers and those entering retirement.
B) UK QROPS: SOUTH AFRICA LOSES QROPS STATUS
South Africa has dropped off the list of financial jurisdictions offering QROPS expat offshore pensions.
The latest HM Revenue & Customs QROPS List published on October 15, 2018, confirms the removal of the last QROPS based in South Africa. The ABSA Group Pension Fund was the final South African QROPS. Neither ABSA or HMRC have commented about the removal.
Generally, QROPS are delisted for three main reasons:
1) HMRC is probing the administrative or tax status of the scheme;
2) The last member has drawn down on their fund or transferred out of the fund;
3) The QROPS provider closes.
South Africa has been ever-present on the HMRC list since QROPS were introduced in April 2006. Between March 2010 and June 2015, the number of QROPS peaked at between 28 and 31 pensions.
After HMRC introduced tax and rules changes in June 2015, the number slumped to seven QROPS, rising to a recent peak of 12 pensions at the start of 2016.
C) UK PENSIONS: INTEGRITY AND NEW VIOLATIONS………..
Four directors of companies that formed part of a group involved in the transfer of millions of pounds of pensions have been banned for a total of 34 years.
Karl Dunlop, Stuart Grehan and Ian Dunsford previously accepted disqualification undertakings for their management roles within the group of companies involved in the transfer of pension funds.
Stuart Grehan, Director of Sycamore Crown Ltd and also known as Stuart Chapman-Clark, agreed to a 9-year voluntary ban as a result of false and misleading statements made to encourage investors to transfer their pension pots.
Karl Dunlop (9 years), Director of Imperial Trustee Services Ltd, and Ian Dunsford (7 years), Director of Omni Trustees Ltd, agreed to voluntarily bans for failing to act in the best interests of pension members and subsequently failing to ensure investments were adequately diverse.
Stephen Talbot recently accepted a 9-year disqualification undertaking for failing to explain what happened to millions pounds worth of assets.
The lesson? Be critical and aware of your own advisor! The right one will understand and respect you for it!
D) UK PENSIONS: SMALL FIRM PENSION RISK EXPOSURE
The funding positions of company pension pots improved last year but smaller firms are not managing their risk exposures well, according to a recent survey.
An annual survey of FTSE 350 pension schemes found many were “in the best position they have been in for a long time” after funding levels improved.
However, it cautioned smaller schemes demonstrated more volatile funding outcomes due to “a less robust” approach to risk management.
The survey found the very smallest schemes were nearly 15pc less well-funded.
E) UK PENSIONS: PENSIONS DASHBOARD APPROVED BY GOVERNMENT
You may be pleased to hear that Government has committed to the ‘Pensions Dashboard.’ This is a technological initiative to allow pension savers to see all of their savings pots in one place.
State pension entitlement data was set to form the cornerstone of the pensions dashboard. From similar applications in other countries we have learned that it is quite difficult to provide simple and complete information that also accurately portrays the future situation.