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Robert Harris has over 25 years experience working for some of the major financial institutions in the City of London, including 12 years at Citibank where he was a Senior Banker. During his time at Citibank, Robert was responsible for global relationships with important financial institutions and instigated a number of landmark deals.

Robert is a founding partner of Forth Capital and has helped the company become the leading expat financial advisory company in Switzerland. He has been quoted in the Financial Times and numerous magazine articles.

For the www.knowitall.ch website, Robert invites various members of his team at Forth Capital to contribute blog articles on different financial topics that he thinks will be of interest to our readers.

www.forthcapital.com

 

Forth Frozen British Pensions

By Alan Turner, Forth Capital

The Government has, once again, avoided calls from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Frozen British Pensions to rule out freezing pensions for EU-resident British expats after Brexit.

When challenged to clarity their position in the Lords, Baroness Mobarik, a Government spokesperson in the Lords, said that she was not able to give the noble Baroness any more guarantee than she has already.

All she had previously said in the debate was that freezing state pensions overseas is a long-standing policy of successive Governments which has been the case for almost 70 years and there are no plans to change the policy.

The policy that she references causes pensioners in Australia, Canada and many other locations to see their state pension value frozen from the time they left the UK and they do not benefit from any increases made since.

retirement forth

By Robert Harris, Forth Capital

During last week’s budget, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer announced changes surrounding the transfer of UK pensions to overseas schemes, which could affect anyone who has previously worked in the UK.

Effective immediately, if you are a non UK resident wishing to transfer your UK pension into a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS), a transfer tax of 25% will be levied on the transfer unless at least one of five tests can be passed. These tests are:

  • Both the member and the QROPS are in the same country after the transfer
  • The QROPS is based in the EEA and the member is resident in another EEA country after the transfer
  • The QROPS is an occupational pension scheme sponsored by the member’s employer
  • The QROPS is an overseas public service pension scheme and the member is employed by one of the employers participating in the scheme

The QROPS is a pension scheme established by an international organisation to provide benefits in respect of past service and the member is employed by that international organisation.

If you have already transferred your UK pension into a QROPS you will not be affected by this change.

forth housing2016

By Alan Turner, Forth Capital

There are two major changes to UK taxes that will happen in April that are going to significantly affect UK property owners who live abroad.

The first of these is going to see an increase in the stamp duty that is paid by expatriates acquiring a second UK residential property, and the second change is an increase that will affect expats who own UK properties within companies.

I took the time to discuss these with our Head of Tax, Mark Routen, to try and understand what this really means and what can be done to mitigate.  This is what I learned:

forth budget2016

By Mark Routen, Forth Capital

On the 16th March the Chancellor will deliver the 2016 budget.  This will be against a backdrop of uncertainty caused by the EU referendum to be held on the 23rd June and also in a difficult worldwide financial market place, where performance has not been as expected and growth is not reaching the expected levels.

There is still the deficit to be repaid and while the UK economy is doing well the financial markets are suffering and the pound is down.

Against this backdrop the Chancellor has to create a 2016 budget that will help repay the deficit without damaging the shoots of recovery and without alienating a section of the electorate that the remain campaign are relying on to keep the UK in Europe, a campaign of which he and the prime minister are key members of.

forth To transfer or not to blog

By Steve Cashmore, Forth Capital

This is an area that needs so much investigation and a decision cannot be taken lightly.   But we live in a different world and the pension regulator has now offered a freedom and choice! The issue is that the new UK pension freedom rules of defined contribution (personal pensions) have not been extended to the defined benefit world (company schemes).

So many factors now need to be considered…. Spouse’s options, Health, Lump Sum Death Benefits, Tax Free Cash (Pension Commencement Lump Sum), Financial Strength and Stability of the Employer, Flexibility of the Income, Inheritance, Investment control, etc etc etc.

Some company pension schemes only offer return of contributions in the event of a member's death before retirement. In my many years as an advisor I have seen many company schemes where this is the case… the worst I have seen was a company scheme that had a value of over £600,000 yet in the event of the members death before retirement his family would receive only return of his contributions approx £65,000 in this case… Explain that to your spouse or to your family!!