31 July was the end of the Australian tax year. As ever, it was a key financial milestone for individuals and businesses, as they took steps to get financial records in order and move forward to the new year.
In the UK, the equivalent date is 5 April.
This key differential set us thinking about our unique situation with offices in both the UK and Australia, and the financial issues faced by many of our clients who have assets in both countries.
We therefore thought this would be a good time to give you an overview of the services we offer, and how we can help you with your financial planning, both in the UK and Australia, and move your financial assets between the two.
1. Helping with your decision-making process
In the last (Australian) financial year we’ve helped many clients transfer their UK pension fund to an Australian super.
An exact figure of the total funds transferred is difficult to quantify. Some transfers happen in stages rather than in a single entity, and some must go through a two-stage process of transferring to a UK self-invested personal pension (SIPP) before the ultimate transfer to a super fund using a qualifying regulated overseas pension scheme (QROPS).
There are no equivalent figures for the reverse Australia-to-UK pension journey because it’s not possible to transfer out of a super.
However, a lot of our work in the UK with clients retiring in the UK with super funds involves helping them find the most effective way of taking income from their super, with specific reference to currency exchange and ensuring they are doing so as tax-efficiently as possible.
2. Ensuring you avoid costly mistakes
The UK regulator is looking closely at pension transfers at the moment. Transfers in general are coming under increased scrutiny and transferring accrued pension funds to Australia especially so.
It’s also become an area that unscrupulous salespeople are trying to exploit for their own ends. We’ve heard reports of individuals being encouraged to transfer their UK pensions offshore into totally unsuitable arrangements and paying a massive charge to the salesperson in the process.
Transferring your pension to a QROPS may not always be the right course of action – either at the present time or at all – so getting the right advice is essential. It’s easy to make mistakes and end up with an unexpected and unwelcome tax bill, plus a greatly reduced fund.
3. Guiding you through the transfer process
Our status as dual-licenced advisers means we’re ideally placed to help you with your transfer decision-making process.
If we don’t believe a transfer is in your best interests, we’ll tell you. We can then help you get the most out of your pension arrangements in the UK, covering off investment choice and taxation issues to ensure you are maximising your pension fund.
If a transfer is appropriate, our wealth of industry expertise, and busy offices in both the UK and Australia, can ensure the transfer of your pension from a UK scheme to a QROPS will happen seamlessly.
4. Support with non-pension issues
Our support for you, and the work we can do on your behalf, doesn’t just cover pension transfers or end once the transfer has completed.
Once you’re settled in your new location, it’s important to take the steps to ensure you live comfortably and plan effectively for your future.
There will be a new tax regime and financial arrangements to understand. These will offer new opportunities, but there will also be hidden threats – and it could prove financially costly if you make any incorrect decisions.
One obvious difference that we referred to earlier in this article is the difference in tax year end dates.
5. Helping with a range of financial services
With a presence at both ends of your pension transfer journey – and likely your own personal journey as well – we can advise and support you with a whole range of other financial planning issues.
- Accounting services
- Tax planning, both in the UK and Australia
- Financing for property purchase
- Investment property management.
6. Helping you manage assets where you moved from
How you manage your finances and assets remaining in the country you moved from will also be crucial.
For example, if you’re leaving assets in the UK when you move to Australia, it’s going to be very reassuring to have a supportive presence in the UK with a finger on the financial pulse, able to react quickly in the event of any impending changes.
There are tax pitfalls to be avoided. As we’ve said, mistakes can prove costly, so it’s worth getting advice to ensure you avoid any expensive errors, that could potentially be irreversible.
Get in touch
With offices in both the UK and Australia, we’re ideally placed to help you with your cross-border financial planning.
Get in touch if you believe you would benefit from advice regarding any of the issues we’ve raised in this article.
A pension is a long-term investment not normally accessible in the UK until 55 (57 from April 2028). The value of your investments (and any income from them) can go down as well as up, which would have an impact on the level of pension benefits available.
Your pension income could also be affected by the interest rates at the time you take your benefits. The tax implications of pension withdrawals will be based on your individual circumstances. Levels, bases of and reliefs from taxation may change in subsequent Finance Acts.