Pension Transfers: A Simplified Guide from MBC Financial

Choosing to transfer your pension is a decision many people in Ireland contemplate. Whether you've had multiple employments, are seeking higher returns, or looking to take control of your pensions, it's essential to understand how pension transfers work and what this might mean for you. This guide simplifies pension transfers, shedding light on the process, benefits, and considerations involved.

1. Understanding Pension Transfers

Pension transfers involve moving your pension benefits from one scheme to another, potentially from a previous employer’s scheme to a PRSA (Personal Retirement Savings Account) or to a Personal Retirement Bond (PRB) or a new employer’s pension scheme. This action can be beneficial if you’ve had multiple jobs and accumulated various pension pots, as it can potentially consolidate these plans, simplifying management and possibly reducing fees.

2. Main Types of Pensions in Ireland

There are four primary types of pensions in Ireland. Understanding these is important as the type of pension you hold may impact the transfer process.

  • Executive Pension: Generally taken out by company Directors or Employees of a small business where the Employer wishes to contribute into a pension for their Employee(s) but where the number of Employees would not be suitable to a Group Occupational Pension Scheme.
  • Group Occupational Pension: This is a company pension scheme, where both employers and employees can contribute into a pension plan. Tax Relief is available on the Employee’s contributions at their individual tax rate i.e. 20% or 40%. Corporation Tax Relief, currently at 12.5% is available on the Employer’s contributions. You can access your retirement options between the ages of 60 and 75 depending on what the NRA (Normal Retirement Age) of the pension scheme is.
  • Personal Pension Plan: Often set up by Sole Traders or individuals without access to a company pension scheme. Tax relief at your marginal rate is available on the contributions subject to revenue’s maximum funding rules and NRE (Nett Relevant Earnings cap of €115,000. You can access your retirement options between the ages of 60 and 75.
  • PRSA (Personal Retirement Savings Account): The PRSA was traditionally used to for anyone without access to a company pension scheme, such as part-time or casual workers, self-employed individuals, and jobseekers. However, with new Revenue and Pension rules, the PRSA has become more popular as currently there is no maximum revenue funding limits. You can access your retirement options from your PRSA from the age of 60, while still in employment.
  • Personal Retirement Bond (PRB): A PRB generally comes into existence when you leave an employment and wish transfer benefits from your previous employer and into your own name. The main advantages are that you can choose where and how to invest your money and take control of this plan. You can access this bond from the age of 50 onwards.

3. Top Reasons for Pension Transfers

The decision to transfer your pension is personal and depends on your unique circumstances. Here are three popular reasons why people choose to transfer their pensions:

  • Early Tax-Free Lump Sum: In certain circumstances, you may be able to access up to 25% of your pension tax-free, subject to Revenue rules, at age 50, rather than waiting until retirement.
  • Potential Higher Returns: Potentially, you may receive a higher return from exploring other pension funds and/or providers versus your current plan. However, pension funds are NOT Capital Secure, the value of pension funds can fall as well as rise and you may receive back less than your original investment. The allocation rate and annual management charge can have an impact on the final value of your plan.
  • Improved Control: If you have multiple pension pots, reviewing, monitoring, and consolidating them, where possible, into a single plan can make managing and reviewing your investments easier.
4. Precautions before Pension Transfers

Before transferring your pension, consider the following factors:

  • Seek professional financial advice from a Certified Financial Planner to understand how the transfer might affect your tax-free cash entitlements, charges or penalties, and the potential loss of certain benefits or features.
  • If you’ve worked in the UK, you might consider transferring your UK pension to Ireland into a Qualified Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS), which offers more control over your investment options.
  • Be mindful that the value of your pension can fluctuate due to factors such as market performance and the type of pension you have.

Transferring your pension can bring various advantages, but it’s not a decision to take lightly. Always seek independent financial advice to ensure you make the most informed decision that aligns with your financial and retirement goals. At MBC Financial, we’re committed to helping you navigate these choices. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for a consultation.

Lastly, it is important to remember that while the pension transfer rules may seem straightforward, each individual’s circumstances are unique, and the rules can change over time. Always consult with a financial advisor to understand your options and the potential implications fully. At MBC Financial, we’re here to help you navigate the complexities of pension transfers. Please get in touch with us for a personalised consultation.

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MBC Financial is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.