How to avoid losing your pension savings pot in Qatar

Published:  15 Sep at 6 PM
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Many expats living and working in the Gulf States are becoming concerned about UK-based pension savings plans and pension transfers.

Qatar is fast becoming the most popular of all the Gulf States for expats, with its capital Doha attracting a large number of foreign professionals due to its recent expansion and improvements. The oil and gas, education and construction sectors are booming right now, with international companies opening local offices and seeking qualified expat talent eager to earn more and enhance their career opportunities.

New arrivals intending to stay for the long-haul are concerned about the financial security of leaving their retirement savings plans in a UK company. Given the present climate of rule changes, uncertainty and lack of strong regulation, the level of discomfort is understandable.

The recent news that defined benefit schemes are to be locked into the UK has send panicked shockwaves across the UAE expat communities, but expat pension savers in Qatar need to realise things are different here. World leaders in financial services operate from Doha’s designated Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), and are strictly regulated in a manner which is badly needed in many other favourite expat career hubs.

For those wishing to convert their pension pots to an offshore QROPS or any other form of pension transfer via the QFC, there’s one small problem – the fact that, in 2012, the Qatar regulator banned any such transfers from operating in the district. The reason given was that demand for transfers was too high in comparison with the small sector’s ability to process, regulate and monitor the excessive business.

However, it’s not all bad news, as there are a good number of equally well-regulated and trustworthy financial advice firms located outside the QFC and operating under similar strict due diligence as do those within the central district. Checking that a potential advisor is regulated by and acting under the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) rules means you won’t be making an illegal transfer costing you 55 per cent of your pension pot.
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