Malta is first jurisdiction to offer expats freedoms

Malta is first jurisdiction to offer expats freedoms

Malta has become the only jurisdiction to offer full UK-style pension freedoms to British expats.

One provider, TMF Group, has reached agreement with the Malta Financial Services Authority to amend trust deeds and rules in order to offer pension freedoms with immediate effect.

Bethell Codrington, global head of pensions at TMF Group, said: “The good news for clients and their intermediaries is that while we initially thought that we would have to wait until our pension schemes had been re-registered an agreement was reached last week with the MFSA which allowed us to amend our trust deed and rules with immediate effect.”

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In March HMRC announced that overseas pension schemes holding UK tax-relieved savings outside the European Union will be prevented from offering pension freedoms to members.

Schemes based in one of the 28 member states - of which Malta is one - will not be prevented from offering free access to funds, provided they meet certain reporting requirements.

For a scheme to offer pension freedom, the rules in the home jurisdiction will also have to mirror the access rules.

Last month only Malta, Gibraltar and Guernsey confirmed they would do so.

Jon Greer, a pensions expert at Old Mutual Wealth, said: “The new requirements relating to Qrops may have created some inconsistencies in the market, but good financial planning opportunities using Qrops still exist.

“Regulations will vary according to the jurisdiction of the Qrops and some jurisdictions will allow the client full flexible access to their money.

“Advisers and clients should check with their Qrops provider if they are in doubt as to how the new regulations impact them.”

Adviser view

Nigel Green, chief executive of international firm deVere Group, said: “The move highlights the continuing maturity of the pension transfer market and further cements Qrops as being a principal part of wider retirement planning options, and puts Malta in an even stronger position when it comes to international pensions.

“As well as being an English-speaking EU country, and member of the Commonwealth, Malta provides a robust, highly-regulated environment, it has double taxation advantages and a history of secure, financial success.”