30Mar

Bank governor and FCA chief both give speeches on culture in firms

The chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Andrew Bailey; and the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, both gave speeches on the subject of firms’ culture during March 2017. Both officials also made specific reference to the effect remuneration systems have on a firm’s culture.

Addressing the HKMA Annual Conference for Independent Non-Executive Directors in Hong Kong, Mr Bailey firstly spoke about issues that have affected the financial sector’s reputation in recent years, and opined that if a firm had a good culture, it was more likely that the firm would be trusted.

The FCA chief said that cultural outcomes within firms were affected by:

• The ‘tone from the top’ – where the firm’ senior managers set out their expectations of the firm’s employees
• The willingness of employees to adopt this tone from the top
• The firm’s management structure and the effectiveness of its governance arrangements
• The quality of the firm’s risk management systems
• The firm’s incentive scheme

Regarding the ‘tone from the top’, later in his speech Mr Bailey stressed the importance of management setting the right example, by saying:

“The tone from the top, or how the leadership (the Board, Executive, parent companies) of a firm behave and fulfil their responsibilities, drives the behaviour of staff and the outcomes they deliver.”

If for example a firm’s senior management promote a sales culture, and consider this to be more important than treating their customers fairly, more junior staff are likely to follow their lead, possibly because they fear the consequences of not achieving their sales targets.

On the subject of remuneration and other incentives, and their effect on culture, he commented that:

“It is critical that Boards and regulators think through the consequences of structures and incentives. In bank remuneration in the UK we have emphasised the importance of deferring variable remuneration consistent with the observation that the risks and returns of activities evolve over a considerable time. And, during that time of deferral and after it, variable remuneration can be cancelled where problems or poor performance materialise.”

Naturally staff are more likely to mis-sell financial products, manipulate benchmarks or engage in other improper behaviour if they were to be financially rewarded for doing so.

Mr Carney gave his speech to the Banking Standards Board Panel. He began by making reference to the recent damage to the reputation of the financial sector, by saying:

“Repeated episodes of misconduct have called the social licence of finance into question. In a system where trust is fundamental, it ought to be of grave concern that only 20% of UK citizens now think that banks are well-run, down from 90% in the late 1980s.”

The Governor then referred to the need to have “compensation rules that align better risk and reward.” Specifically, he reminded banks that they must defer a significant proportion of senior managers’ variable pay for seven years, so that it can be ‘clawed back’ if any conduct issues arise during that period.

Mr Carney also reminded the audience that under the FCA’s Senior Managers’ Regime, the chair and CEO of a firm have responsibilities to develop and embed the right culture within their firms.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

30Mar

FCA instructs firm to stop overseas pension transfers, while another’s pension advice is bailed out by FSCS

Several recent cases have highlighted just how big a risk firms are taking should they choose to offer advice on complex retirement savings arrangements.

Firstly, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has instructed Holborn Assets to cease all pension transfer business that was introduced by an overseas adviser until such time as a skilled person review of the firm’s pension advice process has been completed. The firm must also conduct a historic business review of all its previous pension transfer business, and while pension transfer business referred to Holborn by UK advisers can continue, these transactions must also be checked by a skilled person.

Holborn Assets global head office is in Dubai, but it’s UK operations are based in the Manchester suburb of Sale.

This follows a similar recent restriction placed by the regulator on DeVere, which was ordered to cease providing transfer value analysis reports to third parties.

In the case of both Holborn and DeVere, the FCA has not given any reasons for imposing the restriction, so it is unclear what the firms’ specific compliance failings are.

Meanwhile, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme has revealed that it has so far paid out more than £3 million in redress to 166 customers of advice firm Blueinfinitas. The Weston-super-Mare firm is now in liquidation, and has previously fallen foul of the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) regarding its advice for clients to transfer into Self Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) that involved investments in property.

Some claims management companies are becoming involved in the pensions advice arena, and are particularly active in pursuing claims on behalf of customers who were recommended SIPPs, when a regular personal pension may have been just as good, if not considerably cheaper.
Firms thus need to be confident that a SIPP is the best option for the client before recommending them. They must also note that they are responsible for ensuring that the underlying investments the SIPP contributions will be invested in are suitable.
SIPP complaint volumes are increasing, as is the proportion of complaints about this product being upheld by the FOS.

The Government also took action regarding overseas pensions in the recent Spring Budget. A new 25% tax charge was announced, targeting pension savers who seek to reduce their tax bill by moving their pension wealth overseas into Qualifying Registered Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS).

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

27Mar

Lifetime ISA to be launched on April 6

The new tax year sees the launch of another Individual Savings Account (ISA) product. The Lifetime ISA can be opened by anyone aged between 18 and 39, and needs to be considered as an option when considering savings/investment or retirement planning needs for anyone in this age group.

Lifetime ISAs can invest in either stocks and shares, or in cash. The annual contribution limit is £4,000, leaving savers free to invest their remaining 2017/18 ISA allowance of £16,000 in other types of ISA.

Contributions to lifetime ISAs will be topped up by a Government bonus of 25%. Hence an additional £1,000 will be added by the Government for anyone who maximises their annual lifetime ISA allowance. The Government intends that a lifetime ISA should be used either to save to purchase a home, using a mortgage; or to save for retirement. Hence if the funds are withdrawn prior to age 60, and are not then used to fund the purchase of a home, then the saver will lose the Government bonus, plus the interest accrued on the bonus, and will also pay a 5% exit charge.

Funds can only be withdrawn to spend on the purchase of a home once the ISA has been open for at least 12 months. The property must also be worth no more than £450,000, and the saver must be a first-time buyer if they wish to keep the government bonus.

Savers can continue making contributions of up to £4,000 per tax year, and receiving 25% bonuses, until they reach the age of 50. The account can then remain open after age 50, even if nothing further can be added to it.

There have been fears that the introduction of Lifetime ISAs will result in people choosing to opt out of their workplace pension schemes, preferring instead the flexibility of a savings plan where there is an opportunity to access the funds prior to retirement. However, given that employers are compelled to make contributions to workplace pensions, it is unlikely to be good advice for anyone to leave, or refuse to join, their workplace pension simply to open a lifetime ISA.

Although it is unclear how many providers will offer the product, a lifetime ISA is a very good potential option for those wanting to make retirement savings contributions over and above the minimum workplace pension payments, or for people who are self-employed and hence have no workplace pension. For a basic rate taxpayer, the 25% lifetime ISA government bonus could be said to be similar to the 20% tax relief granted to pension contributions.

The Government has previously launched the Help To Buy ISA to aid savers in accumulating sufficient funds to raise a deposit on a home. It is still possible to open one of these ISAs, until November 2019 at least. These have no age restrictions, so unlike Lifetime ISAs, they can be opened by people who will be aged 40 or over on April 6 this year. However, Help To Buy ISAs only allow investment in cash, do not allow lump sum contributions, have maximum contributions of £2,400 per year (£3,400 in the first year), and can only be used to purchase homes worth £250,000 or less (except for London properties, where the maximum is £450,000).

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

27Mar

FCA directors discuss competition, new technology and innovation

No-one needs reminding that there have been considerable technological advances recently, and the pace of technological change is likely to continue. The financial sector, like any other, needs to embrace the brave new digital world, and this issue was the centrepiece of two recent discussions by directors of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA, told well-known City of London daily newspaper City AM that he had seen examples of innovative new firms who were examining ways of ensuring that their operations would not be subject to regulatory scrutiny.

Mr Woolard commented:

“The worst one I saw was a small startup, so five guys, and they’d spent £750,000 in six months trying to design something with their lawyers which avoided regulation.

“Actually, the position they really needed to fit in within the regulation was very simple. We established that with them in the course of an afternoon.”

Cases such as this led the FCA to establish Project Innovate, to encourage firms introduce innovative financial products and services to the market. Included within Project Innovate is the FCA’s Regulatory Sandbox, where a number of firms, both large and small, have been given special permission to waive certain existing regulatory requirements in order to test innovative new products and services.

Mr Woolard also commented:

“From a consumer’s perspective, this is maybe quite an exciting time where we begin to see change in the financial services industry that is perhaps not dissimilar to some of the changes we might have seen in other industries that have been impacted by technology in the last 15 to 20 years.

“So far, largely financial services has been quite resistant to that and we’re seeing a period open up where, actually, we could see some real change.”

Project Innovate was also addressed by David Geale, Director of Policy at the FCA, when he spoke to weekly industry podcast FinTech Insider.

Mr Geale explained the rationale behind Project Innovate by saying:

“Project Innovate is something we’re really proud of. Some firms were struggling with how new ideas fitted within the existing regulatory framework, particularly where that framework wasn’t designed with those ideas in mind. So, that was really the genesis of Innovate – to say how can we work with those businesses, partly to help them and partly to help us make sure that regulation moves with the times.”

Specifically regarding the Sandbox, he commented:

“The sandbox is there for firms who really need to test in a live environment.

“The example I often give is around disclosure. If I actually present something to you and say, ‘This is the current disclosure, here’s a new version, which one of these do you prefer? Which one of these do you understand?’ well, to a degree, that’s cheating. It’s better than nothing in terms of testing, but you’ve cheated, because you’ve got people to read it in the first place, and that’s generally the core challenge, is getting people to engage, getting people to read.

“So, if you can test that in a live environment, and say, ‘Okay, we know what you would have had, now what’s the difference in actual behaviour with this new form,’ or new style, maybe digital disclosure, for example, you can actually really see the impact of the results.”

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

25Mar

Two more CMCs fined by MOJ

The Claims Management Regulator at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) imposed two fines on claims management companies in the space of four days during the first half of March 2017.

Firstly, Stevenson Drake Ltd (which trades as Refund My Bank Charges, Right Solicitor, Help Me Out, Pension Claimline, pbaclaimex.com and Start Claiming Today) was fined £10,000, then Help Your Claim Limited (which trades as HYC) was ordered to pay a much larger sum of £533,000.

As with many recent MoJ enforcement cases, both companies breached the rules relating to marketing practices.

Stevenson Drake, based in Northwich, Cheshire, failed to comply with General Rule 2e of the Conduct of Authorised Persons Rules 2014, which requires CMCs to take reasonable steps to confirm that any referrals, leads or data obtained from third parties were sourced in accordance with the requirements of applicable legislation and rules.

Manchester-based Help Your Claim breached Client Specific Rule 4, which forbids cold calling in person and asks that any marketing by telephone, email, fax or text complies with the Direct Marketing Association’s Code and any related guidance issued by the Association.

It can be reasonably assumed that Help Your Claim’s failings were relatively serious, as the company has been fined such a large sum for breaching just four sections of the rules. The other sections of the Conduct of Authorised Persons Rules that it failed to satisfy were:

• Client Specific Rule 1c – the requirement that all information provided to a client is clear, transparent, fair and not misleading
• Client Specific Rule 3 – the prohibition on engaging in high pressure selling
• Client Specific Rule 17a – the requirement to inform a client who is pursuing a claim that they must carefully read their claims documentation, and retain this paperwork

Stevenson Drake also breached these requirements:

• General Rule 2d – the need to maintain appropriate audit trails and records
• Client Specific Rule 8 –the stipulation that any CMC introducing business to a solicitor must not act in a way that leads the solicitor to breach their own regulatory rulebooks

Stevenson Drake handles personal injury claims, criminal injuries compensation and claims regarding mis-selling of various financial products; while Help Your Claim handles only payment protection insurance claims.

The MoJ has repeatedly reminded firms of their obligations. Issues that have led to fines and withdrawals of authorisation for many CMCs include:

• Making live marketing calls to individuals registered with the Telephone Preference Service
• Making automated marketing calls and/or sending marketing texts to individuals who had not given explicit prior consent to receiving them
• Relying on the assurances of third party data providers that all individuals on a marketing list had consented to be contacted, without taking steps to verify this
• Engaging in high pressure selling
• Failing to maintain adequate records of their business activities

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

25Mar

MoJ issues bulletin to CMCs covering new regulatory issues

All claims management companies (CMCs) would do well to read the March 2017 regulatory bulletin from the Claims Management Regulator at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). Not only are as many as ten issues raised in this bulletin, but many of these are mentioned by the regulator for the first time. The issues addressed by the MoJ in the bulletin are:

1. The bulletin contains a link to Advertising Standards Authority guidance on how CMC fees should be communicated to customers. Companies are also asked to ensure that when they include figures for amounts claimed back in their advertising that they clearly state what the figure represents, for example companies cannot cite a customer as having received £4,000 in compensation if they actually only received £3,000 once their CMC had taken their fee and VAT had been deducted
2. The MoJ highlighted its concerns over misleading pay per click advertising campaigns on social media and search engines, and reminded CMCs that they are responsible for ensuring their marketing material complies with applicable rules and legislation, even if the marketing activity is conducted on their behalf by a third party
3. CMCs operating ‘refer a friend’ incentives to their customers must ensure that any such scheme does not encourage the customer to behave like a business in seeking out potential claimants. If this occurs, the customer will be considered to have conducted claims activity without authorisation, and the CMC will be considered to have abetted this unauthorised activity
4. CMCs must never copy and paste client signatures, request clients sign blank documents, forge signatures or change dates on letters of authority
5. If pursuing a claim for a deceased client, the CMC must deal with someone with the legal entitlement to complain, which is likely to be the executor of the will, or the administrator of the estate if there is no will. The firm to whom the complaint is made will need to see paperwork such as the death certificate and a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration
6. CMCs are urged to read once again the special MoJ bulletin on transferring client relationships, and a link to this is provided in the March 2017 regulatory bulletin
7. Companies are reminded that they should already have submitted information to the MoJ regarding their annual authorisation fee
8. Companies are asked to read the MoJ’s fourth quarter enforcement bulletin, and to take note of the reasons why companies have been subject to enforcement action.
9. Companies are reminded of the Government’s plans to introduce new legislation regarding whiplash compensation
10. A payment protection insurance claims deadline will come into force on August 29 2019

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

24Mar

PPI CMC director is disqualified, as Lloyds hikes PPI reserve yet again

Christopher Ross White, the sole director of Swansea-based claims management company (CMC) Rock Law Limited, has been disqualified from acting as a director for a period of nine years.

Payment protection insurance (PPI) claims company Rock Law entered liquidation in November 2015, owing £1,209,601 to creditors. The company’s debts included a £567,423 fine imposed by the Claims Management Regulator at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

CMCs can of course be fined, or have their authorisation cancelled, if the MoJ finds that they have failed to comply with the rules. However, this announcement from the Insolvency Service highlights how failing to comply with regulatory requirements can also have personal consequences for senior individuals within CMCs.

The reasons for disqualifying Mr White from acting as a director are essentially the same as the reasons given by the MoJ for imposing the fine back in October 2015, and include:

• Forcing clients to enter into contracts during the initial sales call, before they had been given time to consider the documentation
• Inadequate monitoring of the company’s sales agents
• Insufficient training being given to staff
• Failing to maintain appropriate records and audit trails

Sue Macleod, an Insolvency Service Chief Investigator of Insolvent Investigations, Midlands & West said:

“The Compensation (Claims Management Services) Regulations 2006 are there to ensure the general public is offered protection from over-zealous sales techniques by agents for companies operating within the claims management sector.

“Directors have a duty to ensure they exercise reasonable skill, care and diligence over company operations and that they do not allow the company to breach legislation resulting in financial penalties which impact upon the company continued success. This should serve as a warning to other directors who may feel tempted to breach legislation intended to serve as protection for the public.”

One piece of further news regarding PPI claims in recent days was the announcement of yet another increase in the amount set aside by Lloyds Banking Group to compensate victims of mis-selling. When the bank announced a £1 billion increase late last year, George Culmer, Lloyds’s finance chief commented:

“It would be the last big PPI provision that we would expect to take.”

However, it must be said that compared to the amounts Lloyds has already set aside, the March 2017 announcement of a further £350 million hike in the banking group’s compensation reserve probably doesn’t count as a ‘big’ provision. The latest increase takes Lloyds’ total provision for PPI to around £17.4 billion, a figure that includes provision for mis-selling by all of the Group’s companies, which include Halifax, Bank of Scotland and Black Horse Finance.

Lloyds blamed the latest increase on the Financial Conduct Authority’s announcement of a PPI claims deadline in August 2019, as well as the related announcement that PPI claims will soon be permitted on the grounds that a large compensation payment was not disclosed to the customer. It said that both the number of claims and the size of average compensation payouts had increased in recent months.

The bank’s latest PPI statement reads:

“The additional provision has been taken to reflect the estimated impact of the policy statement including the revised arrangements for Plevin cases, which includes a requirement to pro-actively contact customers who have previously had their complaints defended.”

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

20Mar

FCA chief speaks about culture in financial institutions

Andrew Bailey, Chief Executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) spoke at length on the subject of firms’ culture when he addressed a non-executive directors conference in Hong Kong. Mr Bailey’s speech stressed the responsibilities of boards of directors in maintaining the right culture, and on the effects a firm’s remuneration structure can have on its culture.

In attempting to define culture, the FCA chief said that “almost everything that goes on in an institution affects its culture,” and that “good culture makes it more likely that a firm and its people will be trusted.”

He went on to say that:

“Cultural outcomes are the product of a wide range of contributory forces: the structure and effectiveness of management and governance, including the well-used phrase ‘the tone from the top’; and the incentives they create; the quality and effectiveness of risk management; and the willingness of people throughout the organisation to enthusiastically adopt and adhere to the tone from the top.”

On the subject of remuneration, Mr Bailey said that “there is no doubt that the approach towards remuneration will heavily influence the outcome of culture” and added:

“[Our] approach is not to cap the level of remuneration, but rather to act on the structure of it and the incentives created. As financial regulators, we do not seek to control the level of pay, outside its impact on our public policy objectives. But, the influence that we do have will affect the culture of firms.”

Recent mis-selling and other misconduct scandals have shown that if a firm’s employees have financial incentives to treat customers unfairly, then they are likely to do so. This leads to a corporate culture where sales and profit become more important than the interests of customers.

The next issue Mr Bailey mentioned was that, following the banking crisis, senior individuals were not held personally responsible in many cases. He commented that “with the absence of focus on responsibility, those at the top were seen to evade the consequences in a formal sense of regulatory action.” He then looked forward to that situation changing in the future, given that the Senior Managers Regime was introduced in the banking sector around one year ago, and will apply across the financial services industry from 2018.

In his concluding remarks, Mr Bailey returned to the themes of remuneration and senior management responsibility:

“Incentive structures also drive the behaviour of staff, along with other people-related practices, such as recruitment and performance management. This is where tone from the top gets turned into real practice. Finally, governance is the framework of responsibility that oversees the operations of a firm. It is essential that the leadership of firms identify what drives their culture.”

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

15Mar

Treasury confirms amendment to definition of financial advice

HM Treasury has confirmed that it has accepted the recommendation of the Financial Advice Market Review to change the definition of financial advice. Authorised firms will now only be considered to have given advice when they make a personal recommendation to a client, and not when they provide general guidance or advice on clients’ financial affairs.

According to the Treasury, the change to the definition has two main advantages:

• It will give firms confidence to assist clients with their financial needs without having to worry about inadvertently giving regulated advice
• The risk of consumers falling victim to scams will be reduced

When the changes come into force on January 3 2018, a firm that is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and that does not hold the ‘advising on investments’ or ‘agreeing to advise on investments’ permission, but which holds another permission, will be allowed to give general advice on financial products and services. They will need to seek one of the ‘advice’ permissions if they wish to make personal recommendations.

Firms without authorisation from the FCA will still not be able to give any form of financial advice.

Under the new definition, for advice to constitute a personal recommendation:

“There must be a recommendation that is made to a person in their capacity as an investor or potential investor (or the agent of an investor or potential investor)”

and

“The recommendation must be presented as suitable for the person to whom it is made or based on the investor’s circumstances.”

Examples of general advice which does not amount to a personal recommendation include: letting an individual know that they have unused ISA allowance, highlighting that they haven’t increased their pension contributions, and providing information on the risk profile of the funds available within an investment product they hold.

The financial regulator says there is no need for any firm to apply for changes to its permissions as a result of the announcement.

This brings the definition of advice used by the UK regulator in line with the definition in the European Union’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive.

The Treasury’s paper, setting out the responses to its consultation on the subject, speaks of “a growing trend towards consumers making and executing their own financial decisions, and that for consumers with relatively straightforward needs or relatively small amounts to invest the cost of regulated advice may outweigh the benefits.”

The majority of the 63 respondents to the consultation supported changing the advice definition.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

13Mar

Spring Budget 2017 – a summary of the announcements relating to financial services

Philip Hammond MP unveiled his first Budget as Chancellor of the Exchequer on March 8 2017. The speech was widely reported as being a ‘cautious’ Budget, containing substantially fewer measures than in previous years.

Many of the headlines regarding the speech concern a tax rise for the self-employed. Class 4 National Insurance contributions are payable by any self-employed sole trader or partnership with annual profits above £8,060, and these contributions will rise by 1% to 10% from April 2018, and then to 11% from April 2019. Mr Hammond however stopped short of bringing self-employed NI contributions in line with the 12% paid by employees.

The Government is still proposing to scrap Class 2 NI contributions for the self-employed from April 2018. Together, the two measures are said to equate to an increase of £240 in the annual tax bill of the average self-employed worker. However, those with earnings of below £16,250 will pay less tax.

Since the speech, the Government has announced it will not introduce the legislation for the NI tax hike until the autumn, when it has completed a review of the state benefits provided to the self-employed.

There was no action taken against companies that use self-employed workers to gain tax advantages, but when touring the news studios after the speech, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke MP, put companies on notice that the Government was looking into this issue.

Mr Hammond confirmed the Government’s plans to reduce corporation tax to 19% from April 2017, and to 17% by 2020.

He also confirmed the rise in the National Living Wage – the mandatory legal minimum pay rate for those aged 25 or over – to £7.50 per hour from April this year. The Government plans to increase the living wage to £9 per hour by 2020.

The personal allowance – the amount of an individual’s earnings that is not subject to income tax – will rise to £11,500 from April this year and to £12,500 by 2020. The higher rate threshold – the level above which earnings are taxed at 40% – will rise to £45,000 from April this year and to £50,000 by 2020.

The tax-free dividend allowance – the amount of dividend income an investor can receive before being subject to tax – will fall from the current level of £5,000 to £2,000 from April 2018. This will affect anyone with direct investment in shares; or with a unit trust or OEIC or similar that is held outside the ISA wrapper.

The economic growth forecast for 2017 has been upgraded to 2%, with growth of 1.6% forecast in 2018.

Inflation in 2017 is expected to remain fairly high, at 2.4%, reducing slightly to 2.3% the following year. Wages in real terms will not rise this year, but are projected to rise in each of the next four years.

£435 million was pledged to help firms hit by increases in their business rates, with an additional £300 million for small businesses who are amongst those affected most severely by the revamped rates system, while it was also promised that no company losing its existing small business rate relief would see an increase of more than £50 in their monthly bill.

A new 25% tax charge was announced, targeting pension savers who seek to reduce their tax bill by moving their pension wealth overseas into Qualifying Registered Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS).
Any financial adviser or other professional involved in designing, marketing or managing a tax avoidance scheme that is subsequently defeated by HMRC will be fined the higher of 100% of the total tax bill they helped evade, or £3,000. The Government can also name and shame any professional involved with this practice.

There was no rethink on controversial proposals to reduce the money purchase annual allowance from £10,000 to £4,000. From April this year, individuals who have already flexibly accessed their pension benefits will be subject to this significant new restriction on the level of contributions they can make.

Under a new timetable, there will be a further Budget speech in November this year, followed by a Spring Statement in 2018.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.

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