To QROPS professionals, it’s obvious that HM Revenue & Customs is conducting a systematic review of providers with a view to weeding out the rogues.
Every now and then a scheme disappears off the list only to re-emerge phoenix-like a week or two later with a clean bill of health.
The reason is usually an administrative or communication error between the provider and HMRC.
The latest is the disappearance of four Slovakian QROPS administered by the country’s Tatra Bank on the February 1, 2013 QROPS list.
The bank explains their delisting as a communication error and expects to be relisted within a few weeks.
For schemes to come and go so regularly shows a QROPS watcher that HMRC are sifting through the paperwork and checking out the self-certification forms that a provider must file to place their scheme on the fortnightly HMRC QROPS list.
Any errors mean the QROPS is temporarily closed for new business, but the assets of any current investors are ring-fenced, providing the paperwork is sorted out to HMRC’s satisfaction.
Of course, HMRC declines to comment on this policy – the regular ‘we do not talk about individual schemes or jurisdictions’ statement is dusted off and reposted in response to any query about delisted schemes.
This ongoing process is more important as an industry regulator than all the nonsense advisors talk about the number of double taxation agreements or membership of the European Union a QROPS jurisdiction may have.
Where did that help Cyprus when the country was struck off the list of QROPS jurisdictions last year?
Cyprus is a member of the European Union, the single currency zone and has numerous double taxation agreement and tax information exchange treaties with other countries.
Promises mean nothing
Tax agreements did not help Guernsey closing more than 300 QROPS to new business in 2012 – and a discussion with an inside source has revealed the Channel Island has ‘lost interest’ in QROPS as HMRC has clearly told providers on the island that they cannot offer QROPS to non-residents without a rigorous overhaul of their financial sector.
To British expats and international workers seeking to transfer their pensions out of the UK, the watchwords are very much ‘caveat emptor’ because all the promises in the world mean nothing if the provider has misfiled their forms for listing as a QROPS.
The answer for QROPS investors is to only deal with a regulated advisor who can show membership of an independent scheme that can handle complaints and offer redress if something goes wrong.
Add to that demonstrable experience of successful QROPS transfers and importantly, whole of the market access to products.
An advisor is only independent if they offer multiple schemes in different jurisdictions around the globe. Anything less means an investor could miss out on that one expat pension that makes all the financial difference in retirement.