HM Revenue & Customs’ online list of ROP schemes reappeared sometime after noon today, minus a few well-known names but in terms of numbers of schemes, actually six more than was the case when it was suspended last Friday.
The total number of schemes was given a boost by an additional 55 schemes listed in Australia. Most of these were said to be “self-managed super-funds” as opposed to retail schemes provided by pension scheme providers.
In total there were 932 schemes on the list, up from 926, when the list was suspended.
Aficionados of the HMRC list noted that the names of the schemes that have disappeared as of today included the following 11 Gibraltar schemes: Apollo QROPS, Bourse Retirement Scheme (Gibraltar), Fiduciary QROPS, Gravitas QROPS, Harbour Gibraltar Scheme, Hercules Retirement Annuity Trust Pension Scheme, IVCM (Gibraltar) Retirement Annuity Trust, London & Colonial EU QROPS, Mercantile Circle Managed QROPS, Pantheon QROPS and Prosperity QROPS.
Twenty schemes vanished from Guernsey, bringing its total ROPS offering down to 27, although the departing schemes were said to appear to be self-managed schemes rather than retail schemes.
The number of schemes registered in Malta stayed the same as it was before the list was suspended, at 34.
As reported, the updated list is of considerable interest to the UK pensions transfer industry, because it is seen as evidence of what HMRC considers acceptable for a scheme, and jurisdiction, to meet its requirements, which have been changed at various times since qualifying recognised overseas pension schemes (QROPS), now referred to as ROPS, were first created in 2006.
A number of pension industry experts said they had little to say about the new list, as it had not changed as much as it might have.
“I don’t think there are any surprises. All of the major providers and jurisdictions are still on the list as far as I can see,” said David White, a partner in the Isle of Man-based QROPS Bureau.
Geraint Davies, managing director of the Guildford, England-headquartered, fee-based Montfort International advisory firm and a close watcher of the HMRC list, said the changes in the updated list were almost not as interesting as the fact that it was more than two days late in being posted, and that its publication coincided with news that another UK pension specialist – this time Intelligent Pensions, which is based in Glasgow – has, according to reports, been revealed to have agreed to discontinue transfers of defined-benefit pensions.
“The ROPS list is back, but the delay in posting it has to be carefully analysed,” Davies said.
“There are other interesting trends as well; there seems to be an exit out of self-managed schemes from Guernsey and Jersey, for example, as well as other places, suggesting a growing awareness of the complications and responsibilities of being a trustee. Which is why you also have to ask if all the people transferring their pensions into self managed superannuation funds in Australia actually understand the obligations they’re taking on.
“In the Isle of Man, the leavers are all institutional, although there are nine new schemes, and half of these are pension scheme providers.”
As of 6 April, scheme managers wishing for their schemes to continue to be a considered a ROPS have been required to confirm to HMRC that their scheme meets its latest “revised requirements”.
There had been concerns that many schemes and jurisdictions would vanish from the updated list when it was appeared today.
Scheme managers that previously had been required to designate 70% of an individual’s transferred funds to providing that individual “with an income for life” once retired had been required to complete and return a set of new forms provided to them by HMRC, which confirm that their scheme meets the new Regulatory Requirements, in order to be on the updated list.
Surprise 25% tax
It’s been a year of unexpected developments for the UK pension transfer industry, beginning with the surprise disappearance of a number of countries from the official online list – updated every two weeks – and then, with the news, contained in UK Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Spring Budget on 8 March, that a 25% tax would be levied on most pension transfers out of the country.
Under the new rules, exceptions would be made in certain situations in which individuals might have a genuine need to transfer their pension, including when the individual was moving to or returning to a country located within the European Economic Area.