What is a SIPP?
A SIPP is a type of UK-government-recognised personal pension scheme which allows clients and their financial adviser to choose from a wide range of investments that are approved by HM Revenue & Customs ( HMRC). Therefore, a client can freely choose how their money is invested.
How does a SIPP work?
With the help of a financial adviser, a SIPP allows you to decide what type of investments to invest in depending on your risk appetite and timeframe until retirement.
Since regulations surrounding UK pensions changed in 2006, you can pay as much as 100% of your salary into the scheme each tax year, as long as it does not exceed £40,000 (2013/14). On the other hand, if you become retired or unemployed you can still continue to invest in your SIPP with a limit of £3,600 per year.
What are the benefits of a SIPP?
It is essential that you start to plan for your retirement as early as possible so that you are able to live comfortably in the knowledge that your lifestyle needs are covered. This will mean careful consideration of your pension fund throughout your working life.
A SIPP gives you control of your pension, whereas most members of a company pension scheme have very little control and almost no idea where their pension money is invested. Also, with many of the UK's largest companies closing their final salary schemes to all members, many members now have to look at taking their pensions into their own hands.
Indeed, there are many reasons why SIPPs are become increasingly popular. Some of the key features include:
A SIPP allows the individual along with their financial adviser to decide on the type of investments depending on their investment risk profile and timescale to retirement.
A wide range of investments are allowed, including stocks and shares, unit trusts, investment trusts, OEIC's, insurance company funds and even commercial property which allows individuals to put business premises into the pension fund and the rental income.
SIPP trustee fees tend to be fairly cheap on an annual basis, sometimes as low as a few hundred pounds per year. Access to funds and other collectives or shares is generally available via platforms or offshore life wrappers, allowing access to a whole range of assets at lower charges than individuals can achieve.
Many individuals have several small pensions that they often forget about or are not growing as they should. The National Association of Pension Funds and the Trades Union Congress believes that an average UK person changes jobs eleven times during their career. A SIPP can consolidate all these pensions into one allowing for easier management and better control.
Members of a SIPP can take income drawdown, meaning that an income can be taken from the fund (subject to certain limits) whilst leaving the remainder of the fund to grow in value. An annuity need not be purchased. The benefits taken each year can vary depending on your individual circumstances.
The SIPP Administrator will claim basic rate tax-relief for you if you have any UK earnings. Therefore, if GBP100 are invested, you (the member) only have to contribute GBP80 and the Administrator will ensure the UK Government contributes the difference. A higher rate tax-payer can obtain further relief via the UK Self-Assessment tax return.