transfer traps

(how to not end up with a lemon)

Pension transfer traps exist as the area of pension transfers is complicated involving multi-jurisdictional legislation and rules as well as rules within all individual QROPS.

1. Fees – hidden in the least likely of places

Probably the most harmful of all the pension transfer traps. Not all QROPS schemes have the same fee structure and it is often very hard to compare them. However, our experience has shown that the key fees that people need to understand are:

  • Exit fees from UK pensions – often UK schemes might be under funded or are with profits schemes, in these instances there might be a penalty for exiting the UK scheme. It is important to understand these penalties and what will happen with them over time.
  • Entry and exit fees from New Zealand schemes – these can range between 0% and 5% depending on the scheme. Obviously the schemes with 0% offer more flexibility.
  • Foreign currency fees – these are often hidden from sight and can be significant. The lowest that we have seen is 0.14% above wholesale rates, although there are some providers in New Zealand that are charging a 2% margin on converting sterling to New Zealand dollars on top of the margins the banks are taking.
  • Annual management fees – these can vary depending on the type of scheme and the requirements that the scheme has. Therefore, it is often the case that the more complex the scheme and/or underlying investments the higher the annual fees. It is important to be aware of exactly what you are paying for. Some schemes will also offer ongoing fee discounts for clients with larger balances so it pays to be aware of your purchasing power when making a decision.

We clarify all these points in our advice before you transfer your UK pension to a QROPS in New Zealand.

2. Pension lock-down instead of freedom

There are a significant number of rules and regulations which create all kinds of pension transfer traps around how and when you can access your funds from a QROPS scheme. The pension age test is the most significant one, which states that you cannot access any of your funds prior to the age of 55. However, there are a number of other traps to consider:

  • Will the scheme allow you to transfer out to another scheme in the future
  • Does the scheme lock your investment in, rather than giving you freedom to get your money out
  • That the scheme rules allow for flexible access should the HMRC regulations move in that direction

We ensure you transfer your UK pension to a QROPS scheme that meets your needs.

3. Stuck forever in the wrong scheme

For a long time we were advocating that KiwiSavers were not the right type of scheme to be transferring UK pensions to. We were not surprised, therefore, when they were removed as QROPS in 2015. The reason that we were discouraging of KiwiSaver schemes were the make up of the scheme and the clash of rules between QROPS and KiwiSaver simply made it risky to transfer into these schemes. It is crucial that you select a QROPS that provides you the flexibility to do what you want not only now but in the future. This means understanding how the rules of the scheme (as shown in the Trust Deed) support your circumstances.
We constantly review the Trust Deeds of schemes so you benefit from our deep understanding of the issues.

4. The surprise tax bill

Many people are surprised to hear that they could have a tax liability on transfer in New Zealand if they have been living in New Zealand longer than four years. Unfortunately many other advisers seem to gloss over the tax issue for clients, however, we believe that it is central to any decision on whether to transfer your pension or not. Because if you create a tax liability from transferring that you cannot afford to pay (you cannot use the transferred funds to pay the tax unless you are over 55) then this will create undue stress and not be the right outcome.
We know the tax legislation well and as part of our service to clients investigate the likely tax implications of a transfer to New Zealand.

5. Knowing the rules and regulations

Pension rules in both New Zealand, the UK and Australia (for Australian residents) play a large role in pension transfers. As they are constantly changing this creates the need to often act quickly, as has been the case in the past with the closure of transfers from unfunded public sector pensions (like the NHS, Teachers and Armed Forces pensions).
We ensure that our clients are always in the know through regular communications before, during and after pension transfers to make sure that they are never caught short.


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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