That way I don’t lay awake at night worrying what will come of what I have said. This clearly wasn’t the case for Andrew Warwick-Thompson, TPR executive director for regulatory policy, when he wrote his blog on the scams consultation. He has called for pension transfers to SSAS to be banned and believes SSAS have “gone far beyond the scope of the policy intent that created them”.
I can say this with some conviction because in the original post SSAS was actually written SASS, a common mistake but not something you would expect from someone of this nature (it has subsequently been amended). That aside, the blog wasn’t helpful and as you can imagine it caused uproar in the SSAS world.
I sit on the Association of Member Directed Pension Schemes (AMPS) Committee, the industry body that represents SSAS practitioners and SIPP operators.
Tarring a whole group of upstanding professionals with the brush of scammers wasn’t welcome, needed or justified.
Many of those practitioners would welcome additional regulation to try and stop SSAS rules being taken advantage of and the AMPS response to the consultation discusses this option in detail.
To me however, this is all fairly irrelevant, as even if there was additional regulation or even a ban on SSAS then scammers would continue to pursue targets in other ways.
SSAS get a lot of stick but there are significantly easier and cheaper ways for these scammers to get money out of investors, many sanctioned by the Government themselves. This is namely the pension freedoms, in many cases people are persuaded to access their pensions and draw them out to invest in what they are led to believe is a great (although unregulated) investment, never to see their money again.
SSAS in my opinion has a place in the pension landscape, in particular if we want pensions to remain the long term savings product of choice for the long term.
Smaller companies need to be able to invest in their company and provide themselves with retirement income in a tax efficient manner, SSAS can be a great answer to this with the options of loan backs and investing in the company premises in a simple way. Yes, some but not all of this can be done in a SIPP, but it can be more cost effective in a SSAS when you get to 3 or more members.
I wholeheartedly agree that there is more that can be done to protect investors from scammers, but let’s not just dismiss a whole section of financial services that provides so much benefit to those that are still building this country.
Claire Trott, Head of Pensions Strategy, Technical Connection.