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Issue 77 - ABC Europe Goes Live & The Devil In The Detail Of UK Pension Changes

ABC Europe Launch

In an earlier News & Views, we confirmed our plans to launch ABC Europe Limited and I am delighted to say that not only have we gone live with the business, but we can also announce that Jennie Poate and Hazel Matthews have joined the ABC Europe team.

Jennie is an experienced financial adviser who trained and worked originally in the UK before moving to France in 2008 with her family, where she retrained and has been providing specialist financial planning advice for over 15 years. In addition to bringing with her the majority of her clients, Hazel Matthews, her long-term PA has also joined us, which not only strengthens our team but also, provides even more continuity for the clients concerned.

We therefore extend a very warm welcome to Jennie and Hazel and we look forward to growing the business in France and throughout Europe.

ABC Europe will deliver our services to the highest standards in a fully compliant way. To achieve this, we have teamed up with Nexus Global Network, which is a division of Blacktower Financial Management, who are our licencing partner and compliance support provider for this business.

For more details, please visit www.abc-eu.com or email info@abc-eu.com

Inheritance Tax (IHT) – Panel Breakfast in Tunbridge Wells – 2nd July 2024

On 2nd July, Martyn Bates will be joined by Nathan Blackmore from Way Trustees and Adam Saunders from Sutton Winson, International Insurance Brokers, to co-host a panel discussion. They will be looking at possible IHT liabilities and effective planning solutions to help minimise or avoid IHT, whilst retaining control of assets.

This will be held at 10.00 AM at The Finance Hub offices, located at the southern end of the Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells. There is no charge for attendance, but places are limited, so if you are interested, please email martynbates@abc-ifa.com to reserve your place or to find out more details.

End Of Q1 And Values Are Up

How refreshing it feels to be able to report that globally most markets showed positive returns over the first quarter of this year and have built on the gains made in the last quarter of 2023.

Even though we have recently seen a small hiccup with inflation rates, both in the UK and US, these were minor and it is not anticipated that that they will derail the planned cuts in interest rates which are widely tipped to start in June or July this year.

The economic news in the UK has also been more positive, with a return to growth in January and February and the numbers for March are looking promising too. If this follows through, it will mean the UK is out of its technical recession and that it will have been a very soft landing.

These are all positive noises which markets like and so the cautious optimism with Fund Managers is still in evidence and should be reflected in continuing market growth as the year unfolds.

The Devil In The UK Pension Detail

(This is only relevant to UK tax residents with UK pensions so if this is not you, please skip this section.)

When it was announced last year that the Lifetime Allowance (LTA) for all pension benefits was being removed, this seemed a very positive announcement and immediately, we thought we would be back to where we were before the LTA was introduced in 2006. What a relief that would have been but as with most pension related things, as the detail unfolded, we began to appreciate there was a lot more to it!

The LTA was first introduced in 2006 at a level of £1.5m. This was the maximum amount that could be accrued in pension benefits and enjoy the full tax breaks. The LTA had several increases to £1.8m, then reduced to £1m and subsequently increased again to £1,073,100 – isn’t political interference great!

So, what is the detail to be aware of? One of the attractions for UK tax residents, is that up to 25% of the pension fund value can be withdrawn tax free. With no LTA before 2006, there was no upper limit. With the introduction of the LTA, the maximum was restricted to 25% of the LTA. But, even though the LTA has now been removed once more, the tax free cash limit is restricted to 25% of the last LTA i.e. £1,073,100. In monetary terms, this amounts to a maximum of £268,275. (Are you nodding off yet?)

From 6th April 2024, we simply have a monetary amount as a limit, but what about existing pensions, where benefits have been taken – well, that’s where it gets “really interesting”!

Prior to these changes, when benefits were taken from a pension, this was called a crystallisation event. At that point, a decision is needed regarding the amount of lump sum to be taken tax free. The total fund being crystallised would then be measured as a percentage of the LTA applicable, to record the percentage of the LTA that had been used.

As an example, in 2006, when the LTA was £1.5m, crystallising £150,000 of the pension fund, would have used 10% of the LTA. The tax-free lump sum that was available would have been up to 25% = £37,500. However, you could have opted to take a lesser amount or not to take a lump sum at all and if that was the case, you would still have used 10% of the LTA.

Under the new rules, which simply measures the amount of lump sum taken as a monetary amount, if a lump sum was not taken, (or if less than 25% was taken), then less of the lump sum allowance and possible none of it will have been used. (now you really can be forgiven for nodding off!)

This means that we have had to check for all of our clients with UK pensions, whether relevant circumstances applied and they would be better off under the new rules. Where this is the case, we need to apply for a TTFAC (Transitional Tax Free Amount Certificate – a catchy little name!) before the next benefits are drawn from the pension.

Where we have the records, we can check but because we don’t have the records for every pension our clients may have, we wanted to raise awareness here as there could be merit in reviewing if you have other pensions.

This will only impact people over age 55 now or who are in an occupation which allows retirement before age 55 – professional sports people as an example or perhaps taking benefits early due to ill health.

Whilst this does not impact anyone who had a protected LTA at a higher level, (which was possible at various stages), and is unlikely to impact those who took 25% and have total pension fund values that are not close to the LTA but, the following circumstances could give rise to benefiting from a TTFAC, which should now be applied for.

If any of these circumstances apply to you and you would like us to complete a review for you, then please get in touch with your usual contact at ABC or email info@abc-ifa.com

  • You crystallised pension benefits between 06/04/17 and 05/04/20 and your total pension fund value is £900,000+
  • You have partially or fully crystallised pension benefits but did not take the maximum 25% at the time.
  • You were a member of a defined benefit/final salary pension scheme and commenced taking benefits since 06/04/06 and you have additional pension savings.
  • You transferred to a QROPS (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme) and plan to return to the UK.
  • You are aged 75 or over now and either part or fully crystallised benefits between 06/04/17 and 05/04/20, or chose to take no benefits at all.

If none of the above circumstances apply to you, then feel free to breathe a sigh of relief!

As always, if we can assist in any way, please do let us know and we will keep in touch.

Best wishes from all at ABC.

“We have capacity and would welcome personal referrals.”

Most of our clients come to us by way of personal referral, which is a very strong starting point, and we would therefore be very pleased to receive any introductions that you might think appropriate. Rest assured, our follow up will be totally confidential and without cost or commitment for an initial chat or meeting to determine if we are able to assist.

Alexander Bates Campbell Financial Planning Limited is entered on the FCA Register under reference 817090. Alexander Bates Campbell Limited is an Appointed Representative of Alexander Bates Campbell Financial Planning Limited and is entered on the FCA Register under reference 522399
https://register.fca.org.uk/
Alexander Bates Campbell Financial Planning Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The FCA does not regulate taxation advice.

The guidance and/or advice contained within this website are subject to the UK regulatory regime and the European Markets in Financial Instruments Directive and is targeted at consumers based in the UK.
Alexander Bates Campbell Financial Planning Limited/Alexander Bates Campbell Limited
First Floor, Unit 9/10 Riverview Business Park
Station Road
Forest Row
East Sussex
RH18 5FS
United Kingdom
Tel: 0203 167 0880
Email: info@abc-ifa.com
If you wish to register a complaint, please write to us at the above address or email us as info@abc-ifa.com or telephone 0203 167 0880
A summary of our internal complaints handling procedures for the reasonable and prompt handling of complaints is available on request and if you cannot settle your complaint with us, you may be entitled to refer it to the Financial Ombudsman Service at www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk or by contacting them on 0800 0234 567
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