Retired expats in Asia warned to monitor currency fluctuations

Published:  1 Aug at 6 PM
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Expat pensioners living in Asian destinations are enjoying far better exchange rates than they were a year ago, but is the trend set to continue?

Britain’s strengthening recovery, rumours that the Bank of England is close to raising the base rate after its six years in the doldrums, and the European Central Bank’s growth policy have uplifted pension payments in Asia. However, expat pensioners are more at risk should a downtown occur than any other expatriate sector.

The 2008 financial crash and its resulting global recession saw real-time pension payments to expats decrease by as much as 33 per cent due to the weakness of the pound sterling. According to the experts, a diversified portfolio is the answer, provided that there’s enough cash to invest and enough expertise to do it well.

The recent news about pension liberation in the UK is already being seen as a possible thieves’ charter, with warnings about scammers’ new tactics being issued. Small, self-administrated high-fee schemes (SSAS) are the latest weapons used, and have forced HMRC to crack down on their registration.

Last October, the authority scrapped its ‘process now – check later’ approach, replacing it with a detailed risk analysis before allowing registration. By September, HMRC will have the power to de-register or refuse registration to any administrator they consider is not a ‘fit and proper’ person.

Professional advisors explain that scammers use promises of high returns to trap their victims into moving their money to an SSAS. Returns of 12 or even 14 per cent are being touted, often involving holiday property in countries which feature frequently in Foreign Office travel warnings.
Share price manipulation is another favourite scam, used with SIPPS as well as SSAS, and estimated losses due to pension scammers now total £495 million.
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