Ssas providers must 'up their game' in 2023

Ssas providers must 'up their game' in 2023
Richard Mattison, director of Ssas provider Whitehall Group

Providers of small self-administered schemes must "up their game" as the product marks the 50th anniversary of its creation this year.

Ssas pensions were created following the Finance Act 1973 which allowed controlling directors to join occupational pension schemes.

Richard Mattison, director of Ssas provider Whitehall Group, said features of Ssas pensions were "as important now as they were in the 1970s".

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But he said there were challenges which meant providers would have to up their game.

Mattison said: "Recently, The Pensions Regulator's chief executive Charles Counsell suggested increasing regulation of professional pension trustees.

"This is good news. The warning to unprofessional, sloppy or disengaged trustee companies must be heeded or they could find themselves in hot water.

"In addition, the FCA’s consumer duty and its requirements on IFAs means any Ssas provider that wants to continue receiving referrals from financial advisers will need to operate within the consumer duty's protocols, regulated or not by the FCA.

"Ssas administrators will therefore need to review their practices and make changes to ensure compliance."

Mattison said that if Ssas providers played their cards right, 2023 could be a "promising" year given the predicted recession in the UK.

The annual survey of economists conducted by FTAdviser's sister publication the Financial Times showed a clear majority expect the high inflation caused by the pandemic and the Ukraine war to last longer in the UK than elsewhere.

Most expect the UK to face one of the worst recessions and the weakest recoveries in the G7.

Mattison said: "Ssas have been robust planning tools in previous recessions because of what they are allowed to invest in. We believe that that will be the case in the current economic downturn.

"For example, loans to sponsoring companies can be made at 1 per cent over bank base rate, according to HMRC's rules, providing a relatively cheap source of finance as interest rates continue to rise and commercial borrowing becomes more expensive."

He added that using a Ssas to buy a company's commercial property could also be beneficial as the UK enters an economic downturn, since it could allow actions such as rent holidays.