The rats and mice are deserting the UK pension transfer ship with two minor NZ-registered players cut from the latest official list.
Missing from the most-recently updated UK tax department qualifying registered overseas pension scheme (QROPS) list are the GBP International and Super Trustee funds – both minnows with last-reported assets under management of about $3 million and $5.7 million, respectively.
As reported here previously, the GBP International scheme struck trouble with its two main underlying investment funds offered by Isle of Man-based The Premier Group, now in liquidation. On March 16 this year, the Isle of Man financial regulator wound-up the bamboo plantation-investing Eco Resources fund, one of the Premier Group products GBP International was exposed to.
“Eco has had liquidity issues over a protracted period (since 2014) and has been trying to raise long and short term financing. As at 20 December 2016 Eco had cash resources of GBP 12,545.73 and had accrued debts of over USD2 million,” the Isle of Man financial authority wind-up notice says.
Meanwhile, the Super Trustee scheme, run by UK-based directors, Michael Reason and Gregory Rathburn, is understood to house just a handful of non-NZ resident members. Following changes to UK tax rules last year, QROPS fund members will be required to reside in the country where the scheme is registered.
The rule change also put paid to plans by Dubai-headquartered IVCM (formerly Brooklands) super scheme to offer a NZ-registered QROPS product – with the legal front provided by the Ralph Stewart-backed Lifetime Group – to Australian residents.
However, the IVCM NZ PIE version of the scheme, open to NZ residents, remains on the official QROPS list along with about 10 other NZ-based retail providers and a handful of private schemes.
The NZ QROPS providers still in the game include another Stewart-associated entity, the recently-launched Garrison Bridge, as well as the AMP NZ Retirement Trust, Britannia, i-Select, Craigs Investment Partners, Booster (now owner of the Fidelity scheme), the Medical Assurance Society, NZ Funds, Saturn (Portfolio Super), and the NZX-owned SuperLife.
Members of schemes that have lost QROPS status could be pursued by the UK tax department for substantial tax imposts on any funds transferred.
For example, the NZ-based Evergreen scheme, has been at the centre of some controversy in the UK following the loss of its QROPS status in 2012. A complaint against Evergreen to Financial Services Complaints (FSCL) in 2015 was not upheld, according to UK website Pension Life.
The $26 million Evergreen Retirement Trust transitioned to the Financial Markets Conduct Act regime last November.