Jersey's Inaugural International Pension's Conference

For many, paying into a pension is an automated monthly process that won’t be given a second thought until the time comes to plan for retirement. But behind the automation lies an entire industry that, in Jersey especially, is continually growing. Mark Lindsay, Intertrust’s head of pensions, recently chaired the inaugural Jersey International Pension Conference and outlines what the hot topics were and why Jersey should be more boastful of its pensions offering.

An influx of experienced pensions practitioners to the island over the past few years, combined with changes to pension rules and provisions in the UK, has thrust pensions into the spotlight so May this year was the perfect time to host the first Jersey International Pension Conference. The theme of the conference was a prompt as well as a statement: ‘Jersey: the jurisdiction of choice for international pensions.’

There are three pillars of Jersey’s pensions offering - expertise, regulation and a strong and stable government – and these were referenced by speakers throughout the day.

Varinder Allen, an associate director of reward at Deloitte, set out the current landscape and concluded that the environment for trustees is becoming increasingly complex thanks to more members reaching retirement age and drawing benefits from their pensions as well as the increased visibility of pensions to HMRC.

This visibility has resulted in the UK Government’s Spring Budget introducing a 25% charge on transfers into QROPS, which could be a challenge for Jersey practitioners.

Questions of impending regulation in Jersey dominated the agenda of the panel discussion where it was noted that, across the water in Guernsey, the government recently proposed the establishment of a dedicated pensions regulator.

Peter Culnane, secretary of the Jersey Pensions Association, stated that they were hoping for a softer solution and pointed out that there was a key distinction between regulating pensions and having a pensions regulator. As much of the structuring of pension schemes is carried out under the auspices of trust law this is in fact regulated so what is needed is greater clarity on whether pensions are specifically covered under current regulation.

The issue of regulation is an ongoing discussion but what is clear is that good opportunities exist for Jersey pension providers in the current climate, especially within international retirement and savings plans, which are a key growth area for the industry on the island.

Emerging markets are also crucial to future success. James Quarmby, partner at Stephenson Harwood, referenced the increasing body of work stemming from the Middle East and suggested that Jersey should continue to market itself into this region as well as other emerging areas.

There is no doubt that the pensions market has changed in recent years and technology is empowering the members of schemes to monitor the performance of their pensions and forecast for the future.

Intertrust has recently launched InVision, a financial modelling system that provides clients with a full detailed analysis of expected outcomes so they can plan how to achieve their financial goals. This sort of innovation is sure to characterise the market in the near future so to have a product rolled out now is hugely exciting.

The key take-away from the conference is that the island’s high level of expertise in the pensions industry coupled with the strong regulatory background and stable political environment are the pillars upon which Jersey can continue to build a pensions offering to rival any in the world.