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Should you review your current SSAS provider?

Five signs it could be time for a change…

Over the years SSASs have proven a successful tool to provide for a business owner’s retirement, while at the same time enabling them to grow their business. However, recent changes in the SSAS market have left many clients feeling neglected, which raises the question: is now the time to review your current SSAS provider?

With the large growth in platforms and pension providers increasingly shifting their focus towards other product lines, SSASs are beginning to feel like a secondary business. As a result, many advisers are questioning whether their SSAS provider of choice remains right for their clients.

Below are five signs that your current provider is not fully committed to the SSAS market and it could be time to research an alternative.

1. Service standards are drifting. Are your queries falling into a ‘black hole’? Have response times drifted and is it difficult to speak with a ‘real person’ who can address your questions?

2. Limiting options. Have restrictions been placed on how you can use the scheme? One common example is a restriction on cases where loanbacks can be made back to the employer, along with extra conditions being imposed.

3. They’re waving a stick. Have you been informed of significant increases in scheme fees moving forward? Many advisers have recently been notified of an increase in fees, with no clear reason for the sudden change.

4. They’re offering a carrot. Has your SSAS provider offered you the chance to move the scheme, at a discount to the normal wind up fees? This is a sure sign they are shifting their focus away from the SSAS market.

5. Fee surprises. Have you started to be charged for arbitrary pieces of work on an adhoc basis? 


Retaining SSAS benefits for your clients

We were recently appointed as scheme administrator for a client, a company director, with a SSAS. The scheme had been administered by the same provider for many years, dating back to 2006. The reason for the change was that service standards had noticeably declined. The client cited slow response times, extra fees charged on a ‘time-cost’ basis for work that neither he, nor his financial adviser could understand, and when his adviser reviewed the annual fees they were substantially higher than elsewhere in the market.

This client is not alone; we’ve heard similar experiences from other financial advisers across the market. Many business owners want to retain the benefits a SSAS provides, which cannot be provided within a SIPP. For example, where a SSAS has pooled funds for holding property, loanbacks to enable business development and pension planning down the generations (now even more valuable with the new freedoms to retain funds in the scheme for dependants and nominees). Transferring to a SIPP is simply not an option, as it would mean a loss of these benefits.


Making the change

If you review your current SSAS provider and decide it’s time to make a change, it needn’t be an onerous process. The new scheme administrator will review the scheme to ensure that it has been properly administered. Often it will be preferable to make a clean break and set up a new scheme, then transfer the assets, however this is not always the case. In the example above, where a professional scheme administrator had not been in place since 2006, with the members acting as scheme administrator and unaware of the tax and reporting requirements, then a new scheme would be required.

Alternatively, if the scheme had been properly set up and administered, then a new administrator could be appointed to the current SSAS.


Service matters

At Rowanmoor we are committed to maintaining market-leading service standards for our SSAS administration. We have been recognised for our SSAS administration, winning the Investment Life & Pensions Moneyfacts Award for Best SSAS Provider for nine years in a row. We also focus on developing our team to ensure strong technical knowledge, which we believe is essential for good service for SSAS schemes.


Limited time offer

We have received numerous enquiries from advisers with James Hay SSASs. As a result we have elected to waive 100% of new scheme and takeover set up fees for SSAS clients switching from James Hay at any time between 1 September 2017 and 1 March 2018.


If you are considering a transfer on behalf of a client, please contact us to see how we can help.


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