Who first said, ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch’?

According to the Ruskin Museum in Coniston, Cumbria, John Ruskin was “one of the great visionaries of the 19th Century”. Their website explains that he was “a pioneering conservationist, who foresaw ‘the greenhouse effect’ more than a century ago” who inspired the founding of the National Trust.

An advocate for social change, he firmly believed in the power of art to transform lives. He was a teacher, amateur geologist, art critic, and philosopher, offering some profound thoughts.

In general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes.
The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it but what they become by it.
Imaginary evils soon become real ones by indulging our reflections on them.

But perhaps the most famous quote for which he and economist Milton Friedman are widely attributed is the observation that nothing really comes to us without some kind of cost. In other words, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!

Can I transfer my UK pension to New Zealand for free?

Keeping the venerable Messers Ruskin and Friedman in mind, the short answer is yes – but this needs careful scrutiny and explanation.

Absolutely, you can look at transferring your UK pension into a New Zealand QROPS (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pensions Scheme) with a company that does not charge an initial transfer fee. However, this proverbial free lunch could leave you with lingering indigestion if the ongoing investment management fees tick along at a higher rate than with other providers. Moreover, your choice of how those funds are invested could be limited, especially if the transferring company operates its own QROPS.

How do I compare pension transfers: entry fee plus ongoing fees versus no entry fee plus ongoing fees?

To try and put this into context, we’ve put together some hypothetical figures. Although these are not meant to represent nor promote any provider in particular, they are realistic within the current pension transfers market.

We’ve worked on a transfer value of £250,000 being invested in comparable QROPS products and investment portfolios with an assumed growth rate of 3% pa.

No New Zealand QROPS providers charge an entry fee to invest in their product, but this is where any similarities stop.

Product Provider A does not deal directly with the public as it has no advisers of its own, meaning its QROPS can only be accessed via Financial Advisers, who typically might charge a 2.95% initial advice fee. The ongoing annual fees total 1.04%.

Product Provider B also offers its QROPS via advisers but will also deal directly with the public, charging no initial fee. Ongoing annual fees total 1.68%.

Fees are calculated at the end of each year once the 3% return has been added to the investment amount.

For the first four years, the resulting fund values of investment in the QROPS from Product Provider B are greater. However, after this, assuming all other things are equal, that scheme’s higher ongoing fees nibble away at the invested monies so that resulting fund values end up being less than if they had been invested in the QROPS from Product Provider A.

(To reiterate, although it’s quite feasible that this example could exist in the real world, it is just a hypothetical scenario to illustrate the point of this blog post. You should not regard it as financial advice nor rely on it in your decision-making.)

What should I consider before committing to a UK to NZ pension transfer?

Saying that the decision to transfer your UK pension is complex is obviously a gross understatement!

Therefore, rather than having to settle for one “dish of the day”, we encourage anyone looking at a pension transfer to think about this process more like a smörgåsbord, where you can see everything laid out in front of you, enabling you to make a genuinely informed choice.

For example, would a move to a UK SIPP (self-invested personal pension) be more appropriate? Is it actually preferable for you to leave your money where it is in the UK? And yes, in some cases, the “free transfer” option might be appealing if you want to make an immediate saving, are looking at a shorter investment period before being able /wishing to withdraw the funds, or aren’t so worried about higher ongoing costs and a potentially lower final amount.

What’s important is not to rush the decision until you understand all the factors and their potential repercussions.

Where can I find more information about pension transfers to New Zealand?

To help with your decision-making, GBPensions has created a free e-booklet, which you can download without obligation – we won’t even ask for your contact details or to add you to our mailing list. You’re in charge of your communications with our team, and you’re welcome to call or email with any follow-up queries.

I don’t know about you, but all this talk of lunch has made me hungry, so I’m off for a sarnie. Now, where did I put the Branston pickle…?

GBPensions Understanding your UK to NZ pension transfer options