Friday, 23 April 2010

QROPS News:HMRC has finally approved the first Maltese Qualifying Recognised Pension Scheme (QROPS).

The Melita International Retirement Scheme is to be administered by Malta-based -Custom House Global Funds Services, the global funds specialist, and will be marketed by Panthera, according to a statement released by Panthera this afternoon.

As previously reported by International Adviser, a number of Maltese companies have been eagerly awaiting the chance to offer and administer QROPS, which enable UK expatriates to transfer their UK pensions abroad in a way that can be tax advantageous.

HMRC recognised Malta as a jurisdiction to which UK pensions could be transferred at the end of November, following months of negotiations. That development meant that Malta-domiciled pension schemes approved by the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) were eligible for QROPS status. However, until now none had received the UK authority's approval.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Expats enjoy a better life, says NatWest Int'l

Nine out of ten British expatriates say they enjoy a better quality of life abroad, according to the third annual NatWest International Personal Banking quality of life report.

According to the study, which was undertaken in conjunction with think tank, Centre for Future Studies, expats ascribe much of their happiness to maintaining a good work/life balance with 87% of respondents rating theirs as either excellent or good.

The survey asked expats to rate 16 key ‘life experience’ factors in their order of importance and how satisfied they are with them. Interestingly the natural environment, climate, culture and leisure, healthcare and education were all rated ahead of financial security and financial wellbeing which are rated sixth and eighth respectively.

Fewer return to UKNatWest International also found, despite the global economic downturn and the subsequent pressures put on people’s wealth, the number of expats who said they would return to the UK has fallen to 19% from 26% in 2008.

Dave Isley, head of Natwest international Personal Banking, said: “It seems the grass really is greener for Brits living abroad as our study shows.

“The fact fewer expats say they will return to the UK in the future, compared to three years ago, proves that the pace of life, work life balance and earning potential abroad means life as an expat is sunnier in more ways than one – and that they are weathering the financial storm.”

Higher WagesFurthermore, professional expats on average earn over £20,000 more than their counterparts back in the UK, according to the survey, with 92% reporting a salary increase over the past three years. The highest reported salary increase was in Hong Kong at 19% followed by the UAE at 17% and Spain at 14%.

In addition, while moving abroad often comes with fears of financial insecurity, the survey found the majority (63%) said they were comfortable with their financial position, while 27% said they were either very well off (10%) or quite well off (17%). Meanwhile, 59% said they were confident they will be better off financially in five years time.

“The dream shared by many Brits of living a happy life abroad is alive and kicking, despite the global economic factors which have to some extent affected British expats,” added Isley.

“Believe it or not, there seems to be more to having and leading a fulfilled life than just money. British expats have built their lives abroad on solid foundations - with the climate, culture and leisure, healthcare and education all deemed more important than financial security or financial well being for them.”

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

QROPS Advice: Guernsey moves closer to QROPS code of conduct

A code of conduct for QROPS providers in Guernsey is one step closer with the sub-committee’s first meeting set for tomorrow.

The sub-committee has been formed by the Guernsey Association of Pension Providers (GAPP) and contains a cross-section of QROPS providers from the jurisdiction. Its aim will be to establish a voluntary code of conduct, with additional input from tax and legal professionals, which will be displayed on the GAPP website along with a list of members aligned to those codes.

Members of GAPP will then be able to refer to their adherence to these codes in their own marketing material and provide additional comfort and assurance to clients and introducers.

Roger Berry, managing director of Concept Group and also chair of the sub-committee, said a code could be established as soon as one month from now.

“GAPP has been working on this for some time, and things are coming along quite nicely,” said Berry.

“I would hope within a month or so we should have something out there which is going to be helpful to not only the providers here, to ensure we are singing from the same hymn sheet, but also the users, intermediaries and members of these schemes.”

Furthermore, Berry said while the code would initially be voluntary there is a possibility in the future it could have some regulatory support.

“Most if not all the providers in Guernsey are now represented on the sub-committee so it has a huge amount of clout and the regulator and the tax office deal with this committee as well,” added

“My hope is if we demonstrate to our local government that we are serious and we get this off the ground it is highly likely there may be some time found by the regulatory side and we might get some support from them. It may ultimately end up in something more formal.”