Overseas, how do you obtain best advice?

1. Which adviser?

The internet is full of financial advisers offering transfer advice 
to those that have UK pension schemes. Many advisers claim to be QROPS or UK
 Pension Transfer Specialists.

2. The right expertise

How can the public work out which advisers have a suitable level of
 expertise if all the advisers claim to be experts? There are some advisers
 that have no pension qualifications or they may have qualifications but no relevant experience in dealing with 
UK pensions.

3. The right qualifications

While a knowledge of non-UK jurisdictions and foreign tax rules is
 essential, the starting point for any advice is a proper understanding of 
the UK pension and Double Tax Treaty.

a. The FCA ( Financial Conduct Authority ) in the UK insists on the
 following pensions’ qualifications for all UK advisers that deal with 
pension transfers. Non-UK clients should expect the same:

• G60 or AF3 – ( Chartered Insurance Institute )
• Fellow/Associate of the Faculty of Actuaries
• Pensions paper of Professional Investment Certificate (IFS)
• Fellow/Associate of the Pensions Management Institute

The public should check that an adviser has one of the above
 qualifications and, if not, ask to be referred to such an adviser. We believe that the qualification is only the starting point; relevant experience and correct regulation is as important.

b. Will the adviser be prepared to offer the clients a choice of a time
 based fee or commission? Bear in mind that commission is only payable once
 an investment is made and sometimes the most appropriate advice may be to 
leave the UK pension where it is.
 Commission leads to bias in other words.

c. Is the adviser currently a member, by qualification, of a 
professional institute and signed up to the institute’s code of conduct and
 commitment to continued professional development?

View this video here:

d. References from clients may be fine to an extent, but often problems
 appear later on. Take references from professional independent referees and
 previous employers
 ideally, and if in doubt contact a regulated IFA in the UK who can perform additional checks that you may not be able to (there may be a fee involved but it is better than a penalty later on!)

e. What experience does the adviser have? Due to the complexity of
 pension transfers, it should be expected that the adviser has several years’
 experience or, if not, that the firm that supervises the advice has
 appropriately experienced staff in place.

4. Concerns

A large number of advisers that claim to be experts have no relevant UK pension qualifications, have no relevant working experience with UK pensions
 and often have no qualifications at all. Some advisers make unfounded claims
 about their qualifications, use titles that they are not permitted to use
 and falsify their pasts and experience.

a. Corporate membership of an institute such as The Chartered Insurance 
Institute (CII) or The Chartered Institute for Securities and Investments
(CISI) does not refer to a qualification. Some firms proudly display this
 membership, but it does not guarantee that the advisers are all qualified.

b. Titles such as FPC or CISI do not exist. The CII provide the public
 with a link to check on the membership status of the CII advisers. The CII 
have stated that the use of titles, without permission, is actionable. The
 public would need to contact the CISI to check membership. Please note, the
 CISI do not offer pension qualifications.

Qualified means the following; CertPFS, DipPFS, APFS/FPFS – all members
 signed up to a code of ethics to treat customers fairly and a commitment to
 continous professional development.

Ordinary/Student only membership is open to members of the public, there are
no exam requirements for membership. CII ( Award)/FAIQ are basic
introductory qualifications and are not subject to the requirements of
qualified members.

5. Conclusion

The public need to check the education and experience of the adviser before
 engaging. There is a considerable amount of misinformation that leaves the
 public open to poor advice. Regulation and local knowledge also needs to be
 checked, in addition to the UK pensions’ qualifications and experience (
please check this on the relevant tabs on this website).

The views expressed in this article are not to be construed as personal advice. You should contact a qualified and ideally regulated adviser in order to obtain up to date personal advice with regard to your own personal circumstances. If you do not then you are acting under your own authority and deemed “execution only”. The author does not except any liability for people acting without personalised advice, who base a decision on views expressed in this generic article. Where this article is dated then it is based on legislation as of the date. Legislation changes but articles are rarely updated, although sometimes a new article is written; so, please check for later articles or changes in legislation on official government websites, as this article should not be relied on in isolation.

About the Author

Chris Lean

Chris is a Chartered Financial Planner who writes blogs and articles to simplify and explain some of the financial issues that affect UK expats. Subjects include; hot topics, regulation and the ever-changing world of finance.

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