Pensions are integral to retirement planning, but what does uncertainty around Brexit mean for expats in France and their options regarding a QROPS or SIPP pension transfer.
Despite the uncertain climate, one thing is clear: QROPS or SIPPs still offer plenty of attractive possibilities for British expats residing in France.
As ever – Brexit or no Brexit, deal or no deal – the best thing to do is to sit down with your wealth manager or financial adviser to discuss your retirement objectives, your legacy plans, your current financial circumstances and your attitudes to investment risk and investment growth.
In fact, the need to do this may well be greater than ever before. There is a reasonable probability that significant changes will soon be afoot; by evaluating your options now you may still be able to take advantage of the flexible pension arrangements that are currently available to UK expats in France.
Of course, there is always the option to leave your UK pension in place and to perhaps convert it into some form of income – perhaps as an annuity – but such arrangements may not always offer the flexibility or tax advantages of taking out a SIPP or QROPS in France, so you need to be clear about the pros and cons of this course of action before making any decision.
For all the misguided and sensationalist talk of British pensions becoming “illegal” in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the truth is that the UK has long had cordial relations with all of the countries in the EU, particularly France, Spain and Portugal, with the latter the UK’s oldest and most trusted ally. It is highly unlikely, to the point of improbability, that agreements will not be reached with any EU country.
Furthermore, any person in France with a QROPS can have every confidence that the pension transfer will continue to offer flexibility, as well as tax and inheritance planning benefit – these will be likely to continue operating in exactly the same way they do now whatever the outcome of the protracted Brexit negotiations. However, be aware that as there are no QROPS schemes existing in France, you will need to select a fund from a qualifying scheme from the European Economic Area.
This is not to say that a QROPS in France or indeed a SIPP are the only pension options available to expats – it may just be that they are the most obviously workable. For more information it is definitely worth speaking with your adviser.