avoid the cold call

Cold calling about UK pensions is against the law

For years the FMA New Zealands regulator have been building a strong regulatory regime to protect people from bad advice and making ill informed investments. One of the first principles in this protection is a ban on cold calls for financial advice.

A second principle is giving a fair, balanced and impartial view in all advice.

So, if your cold caller is telling you to transfer your UK pension before your tax bill gets too big, that seems to violate both of those principles.

What’s worse is some of these advisers are calling from overseas, where they are not even allowed to advise you on New Zealand investments, but they just conveniently ignore that.

Cold callers only sell panic and fear

Most people don’t know financial advisers need to be registered in New Zealand to provide advice on New Zealand investments, and foreign ‘pension transfer specialists’ just ignore it. Many ‘pension transfer specialists’ are based in the Middle East or Asia, or have big call centres based there to set up appointments for their advisers. They use various scare tactics to set these meetings up saying things like:

  • Your NZ tax bill will be higher if your don’t transfer immediately
  • Schemes in the UK are failing, don’t get stuck there
  • Everyone is transferring out of their final salary scheme pensions

Many end up putting people in bad investments

In the past these off shore advisers have pushed investors into pension schemes in Malta or Gibraltar, now they are using UK SIPPs. They will use high-end sounding investment vehicles like portfolio bond and Insurance wrappers, and tell you there are no fees to pay on the transfers.

And because they are not licenced they don’t tell you the important things like:

  • The portfolio bond wrappers allow them to disguise up to 15% of the investment value being paid to them as upfront fees
  • Bad investments (like student accommodation funds) and have lost significant value but are still recorded at cost value by the portfolio bond platform (a number of the investments are worth 60% of the value shown on investors statements)
  • Their schemes have massive exit penalties if clients want to get out within the first seven to ten years of being in the scheme.

The intricacies of whether to move or leave a UK pension can only be assessed in light of many more factors than simply tax on a transfer or a vague warning about losing your funds. In fact, responding to these cold calls and transferring in these circumstances is likely to leave you frustrated and poorer.

What to do to avoid being burned

Fortunately New Zealand offers a safe and highly regulated environment for transferring your pension with highly reputable schemes with an array of funds to invest in that are very transparent when it comes to fees.

To determine if you are dealing with a reputable and experienced company or adviser you should be asking these questions of yourself and the adviser before engaging the services of any service provider:

  • Did you contact the adviser or did they cold call you? – Cold calling for financial advice is not allowed in NZ
  • Is the adviser local or based off shore? – Off shore advisers are not allowed to advise on pension transfers to NZ residents

Having ruled out off shore advisers and service providers

  • What schemes and funds can they offer – Can you invest in Sterling denominated finds, what will my tax rate be on my investments, how will I know how and when to declare my transfer?
  • Have all fees been disclosed? – There are typically transfer fees and ongoing adviser fees, what are these?
  • Will there be Foreign Exchange (FX) fees charged – There should be none over and above Interbank Rates, some schemes charge up to 2%, what will you be charged
  • Will you be receiving any written advice regarding the transfer itself – Is it a good idea to transfer or not? Do not transfer simply because someone says it’s a good idea, get professional and comprehensive written advice
  • Will you be receiving tax advice from the adviser – taxation on pension transfers is complex and can be a large determinant of if and when to transfer
  • Tax advice on a pension transfer is expensive when undertaken by a 3rd party and should be part of your pension transfer advice and your pension transfer fee – if it’s not why not?

These are just some of the key issues and questions when considering a UK pension transfer and whom ever you are speaking to about your UK pension they should be able to answer all of them and more.



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straightforward and painless

Until now I'd imagined my UK pension funds being locked away behind all manner of firewalls and bureaucratic hurdles to access on retirement. Before committing the one surviving official document of my English OE to the bin - a single page detailing my private pension details - I contacted you out of curiosity. The result feels a little like winning lotto.

Peter W

very stress free

Thank you Cambel for your help and guidance throughout this process in getting my pension transferred (very stress free for me). It is greatly appreciated and I would certainly recommend you and Charter Square to others who are interested in transferring their pension.

David R, New Zealand

You guys rock!

I just wanted to say a great big thank you to you and your team. You are all totally awesome. I received a cheque yesterday from the Prudential to apologise for the ‘recent inconvenience’ that I had experienced. Thank you for doing this for me. You guys rock!

Noelle B, New Zealand

professional, insightful

Charter Square were professional, insightful and a pleasure to work with. They rose to the challenge of consolidating my overseas pensions and bringing them home with minimum fuss for me and maximum effort on their part.

Jens H, New Zealand

thorough, professional and prompt

Very thorough, professional and prompt service from the team at Charter Square. Thanks for making the bewildering world of pension transfers super simple.

Jules T, New Zealand

Best party to deal with

Thank you kindly for keeping in touch with me. For now, I will not be moving my pension. I will however be keeping your details and referring back to you when I wish to pursue. You by far are the best party to deal with, no nonsense, professional and in my opinion genuine. I do sincerely thank you for your advice to date.

GE, New Zealand


Securing the freedom to use savings that are actually ours to work with has been stressful in the extreme. While I never planned on giving up there were many times when the current (UK) holder made the whole process seem well beyond my determination and ability. It’s easy to look at the 36 month history of this claim with the benefit of hindsight, but the conclusion is that employing Charter Square in the first instance would have been wise had I been able to anticipate the red-tape that appears to have been deliberately created to stall access.

CP, Auckland