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Ask the Expert: Should I move my pension abroad - or is it a scam?

PUBLISHED: 11:48 14 October 2018 | UPDATED: 12:33 14 October 2018

Carl Lamb, managing director of Almary Green

Carl Lamb, managing director of Almary Green

Archant

Carl Lamb of Almary Green answers our reader’s financial, savings and investment queries.

I have a pension pot with one of the big insurance companies which is worth about £250,000.

I’m aged 50 and want to make sure that I have enough income to live a pretty good life when I retire.

I’ve had a call from a company that is telling me that if I transfer my fund overseas, the growth potential will be much higher – especially with Brexit happening next year. What do you think?

Response from Carl Lamb of Almary Green

I’m afraid this sounds like one of the many pension fraud cold calls to me, so please don’t sign up to anything!

There is a real danger that if you transfer your fund in this way you may never see your money again.

Even if the transfer offer is to a genuine fund and not straightforward theft, by transferring your pension savings overseas you could firstly find yourself with a large tax bill and secondly see your fund eroded with significant fees and charges from the people doing the transfer.

It’s important to remember that accessing your pension savings before age 55 is against the rules (unless there are very special circumstances such as terminal illness) and will have a tax penalty.

Even if you were over age 55, withdrawals are subject to income tax assessment once you’ve taken your tax-free entitlement, so a bulk withdrawal of your fund will tip you into the additional rate tax bracket which is currently 45%.

You can transfer your money between UK government-approved pension schemes without a tax penalty, but it’s critical to ensure that you don’t move your fund outside this framework.

The best advice I can give is to have a pension review with an independent financial adviser.

He or she will make sure that you understand what you need to do between now and retirement to deliver the retirement income you need and will ensure that your pension savings are invested safely and productively in line with your circumstances and attitude to risk.

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