At the time of writing, the Brexit deadline is still looming, and yet no expert can claim to know what might happen with any certainty. Will we have a deal, a no-deal exit, or could there even be a second referendum?
All these questions have combined to create a unique feeling of insecurity among British expats living in the European Union and, unfortunately for many, this may even lead to poorly thought-out decision-making when it comes to managing their assets, investments and even their pensions.
While rash or emotionally motivated decisions should be avoided, inertia can be just as dangerous. If more than three decades in the wealth management and pension planning sector has taught Blacktower Financial Management anything, it is that the value of careful planning is never more apparent than during times of uncertainty or volatility.
Uncertainty brings out the scammers
Sadly, one thing we can say with a certain amount of confidence is that opportunists and scammers may well come out of the woodwork during this time of confusion. Their specific intention will be to prey upon people who are concerned but have not yet decided to take any action regarding their pensions and other assets.
If someone cold calls you and/or promises to keep your pension safe through Brexit, please hear the alarm bells that may well ring in your head. Your pension is likely to be one of your most valuable assets, so making sure you only take advice from a fully licensed, regulated and independent firm is vital. And never be afraid to ask for a face-to-face meeting, for details of their offices, and for references and testimonials; a legitimate firm will be able to provide these.
If in doubt, you can check with the relevant regulatory body. Blacktower Financial Management International is fully licensed by the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission and you can find details of where our group of companies is regulated at www.theblacktowergroup.com
Pension uncertainty for expats
Until a deal is agreed and approved by all of the UK, the EU, parliament and, potentially, the British people, it is not clear how Brexit will affect the pensions and cross-border financial assets of British expats. Taking advice now cannot change this situation, but it can at least prepare retirement savers for whatever the future may hold.
Many UK pension funds have a heavy UK asset bias. This means that if the UK economy experiences a downward spiral as a result of a no-deal Brexit, it could have direct impact on your spending power in the longer-term. Some retirement savers in this situation may wish to consider making a transfer into a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) or Self Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) in order to guard against this possibility.
Remember, what is right for you will depend on your individual situation and retirement planning goals. However, one thing holds true for more or less everyone: the most prudent course is to review your options with a licensed and regulated independent adviser and to do it as soon as possible.
Forward planning for the worst
There are around 1.3 million UK nationals living across the 27 EU member states and although it is unlikely that they will suddenly be unable to access British-based cash in the event of a no-deal, the situation is not altogether impossible. For example, according to the Association of British Insurers, there is a risk that insurance companies will be unable to pay pensions to British expats. However, here at Blacktower, we think this is unlikely.
In such a situation, the UK would either have to strike a temporary deal or negotiate deals on a country-by-country basis. As such, it is sensible for British citizens in the EU to have contingent plans in place to ensure that they are able to bridge any financial gap that no-deal may cause.
Blacktower Financial Management, for confidence in difficult times
We pride ourselves on delivering cross-border retirement planning expertise to help our clients structure their pensions, assets and cash-flow. We do this while providing the peace of mind that comes with both first-class communication and a clear and transparent fee structure.
Portugal and Britain are the world’s oldest allies and, in all likelihood, the two countries will work to prioritise the mutual interests of both British nationals living in Portugal and Portuguese nationals living in Britain, regardless of the outcome of Brexit negotiations. However, it is essential that you and your assets are protected and that you have contingencies in place to achieve this end.
For more information about how we can help, contact Blacktower’s bilingual advisers in the Algarve today.
By Manuela Robinson
Manuela Robinson is the Joint-Country Manager of Blacktower in Portugal. With offices in Quinta do Lago and Cascais.
[email protected] | 289 355 685
Blacktower Financial Management (International) Limited is licensed by the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission. Licence 00805B. Blacktower Financial Management Limited is authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority.