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Review of 2016: A steady start builds up to a bright future

For us, 2016 brought new ownership and the prospect of future growth. Here is an overview of some of our informative and thought-provoking articles on the SIPP and SSAS market, from 2016.

SSAS market movement
In February 2016 we took part in Money Management’s annual SSAS survey. This survey has been a key indicator for participants and advisers alike, in reflecting the state of the market. Reassuringly, over the past few years, the SSAS market, whilst not without its challenges, has seen something of a revival. With insight from the survey, we brought a potted history of those most recent challenges.

SSASs have continued to be a key theme throughout 2016 and we provided an in depth insight into why the SSAS loanback continues to be a factor in establishing a SSAS and the financial control it provides, such an influential factor and consideration for company directors and business growth.

Lifetime allowance and annual allowance changes
On 6 April 2016, the standard lifetime allowance reduced from £1.25 million to £1 million, which brought a further opportunity for individuals to apply for lifetime allowance protection and safeguard their pension savings.

In the 2016 Budget we received good news; positive changes to pension flexibility for child dependants, a new Lifetime ISA and a boost for commercial property purchase. Whilst the Lifetime ISA is still gaining traction, the flexibility factor for dependant’s flexi-access drawdown means that on reaching their 23rd birthday, beneficiaries will not be subject to a tax charge of up to 70%.

Tax-efficiency and succession planning continues to play a key part in holistic retirement planning for both family wealth and business continuity development; Rowanmoor Group’s product and service propositions continue to meet these requirements.

Property investment
Property has been something of a talking point this year, with press commentary questioning whether it should be treated as standard or non-standard for capital adequacy purposes. In June we issued a statement regarding our own capital adequacy requirements which reinforced our strong financial position. Since the introduction of the new regime in September, we still continue to allow clients to hold non-standard assets as part of their investment portfolio.

Innovative awards success
We were pleased to find out that we had won the new Life and Pensions Innovation Award at the 2016 FTAdviser Online Innovation and Service Awards. Advisers voted for the top three providers in the Life and Pensions category, who they felt are headlining the industry through innovation and technology.

Acquisition news
In July, Rowanmoor Group was acquired by the Embark Group. This signalled the start of a new era for Rowanmoor Group; the meeting of the two companies created a retirement solutions provider which offers the full breadth of services, from Rowanmoor Group’s established SSAS and SIPP specialisms, actuarial and consulting heritage, with those of Embark Group and its capital support. Rowanmoor continues to operate independently and it is very much business as usual.

Capital adequacy
September signalled the introduction of the new SIPP capital adequacy regime. Rowanmoor Personal Pensions Limited had already laid out its position in this regard, though its regulatory capital has since been boosted to over 125% as part of the wider Embark Group, following its acquisition in July.

Not long after, the validity of the payment of pensions tax relief on in specie contributions was called into question by HMRC. This had significant implications leading to Rowanmoor Group suspending acceptance of all in specie contributions, to protect the interest of members of our registered pension schemes. We still await a decision by HM Revenue & Customs clarifying its position.

Rowanmoor Group wins Best SSAS Provider Award for ninth year in a row
The Rowanmoor Group was awarded Best SSAS Provider for the ninth year running at the Investment Life and Pensions Moneyfacts Awards ceremony held at the Lancaster London Hotel, on 22 September 2016. We were delighted with this achievement, as it is such a fantastic endorsement of the service we provide to our advisers and clients.

A spotlight on our commercial property investment expertise
The focus for Autumn moved on to commercial property. Starting with an introduction into our experience and support with managing investments of this type, we followed with a series of articles on the various scenarios that can arise. Exploring SIPP property purchase and development provides an in-depth exploration into freehold property purchase, with consideration given to VAT, insurance and borrowing, and specifically the commercial viability of the property, to comply with HMRC requirements. Borrowing and joint ownership options in commercial property purchase explores the funding options considered by clients when making their purchase. Agricultural land purchase provides boost for Family Pension Trust, highlighted how agricultural land can lend itself well to Family SIPPs, with succession planning being a key part of a family’s financial requirements.

Experto crede; trust the expert. Commercial property masterclasses
During October and November we ran a series of nationwide masterclasses where we provided a more in depth look at property investment, from the technical intricacies to the quirky scenarios. At the same time, we learned that Revenue Scotland had controversially decided to make in specie transfers of Scottish properties between pension schemes subject to Land and Buildings Transaction Tax, which brought a new opportunity for property purchases via a SSAS.

Looking ahead: what does the future hold for 2017?
Looking ahead to 2017, we anticipate many changes, not just for the industry, but closer to home within the Embark Group. Since our acquisition in July 2016, significant work has been completed to build on the common synergies and expertise within the Group companies.

Rowanmoor is very well placed as a bespoke provider and draws on its years of expertise to continue to offer the very best service to our clients and advisers. There are many exciting developments which we look forward to sharing with you as we move into 2017.

Please visit www.rowanmoor.co.uk regularly or sign up for our etalk emails to receive our updates.

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