SSAS Pension or SIPP?

Although SSAS and SIPP pensions share several similarities, they differ when it comes to their structure and who they will benefit the most. Let us look at SSAS vs SIPP.

What is a SSAS Pension?

A SSAS is an occupational pension scheme which is usually set up by company directors. In most cases, directors want more control over investment decisions relating to their pensions and even more so if they plan to use the pension to invest in their business. The SSAS was created to give business owners more control diversify the range of fund investments allowed. A SSAS is allowed to invite up to 11 scheme members, who can be other employees or family. Each member becomes a trustee which is a requirement under the Pensions Act 1995. Members are joint trustees of the SSAS scheme.

The key features of a SSAS are as follows:

  • It is an occupational pension scheme
  • Members are usually directors or employees of the sponsoring employer
  • Every member has a notional share of the funds, including non-insured assets such as property and Open Ended Investment Companies (OEIC), and insured assets, like Trustee Investment Plans
  • There is a limit of 11 members.
  • A SSAS is regulated by The Pensions Regulator and HMRC.

What Is a SIPP?

A SIPP (Self Invested Personal Pension) is a personal pension plan which is usually set up by an insurance company or a SIPP specialist. In this case, a member has greater control over the investments but unlike with a SSAS, does not have to be a trustee. SIPPS are regulated by the FCA and so a financial adviser may suggest a SIPP and offer guidance. There are many asset classes a SIPP can invest in, including property, stocks and shares, a range of funds and investment opportunities, gold, and many more.

If you are a company director, you are likely to be eligible for both a SIPP or a SSAS. However, a SSAS is exclusively available to company directors. A SIPP is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. A SSAS is self-governed but its regulation is also covered by the requirement to be registered with The Pensions Regulator and HMRC. It must also abide strictly by HMRC rules and so a professional trustee is strongly advised. This can be arranged by your SSAS adviser.

Anyone can take out a SIPP as long as they meet the eligibility criteria which, due to the higher costs involved in running a SIPP, is usually based on minimum fund size.

Additional features of a SIPP include:

  • A SIPP is a personal pension plan
  • There is the option to invest in non-insured assets, such as property and OEICs as well as insured assets, like a trustee investment plan
  • The employer of a SIPP member can contribute to their pension plan and may operate payroll deduction on their behalf.

SSAS Pension or SIPP?

So, SSAS vs SIPP, SIPP vs SSAS, which pension scheme is the best? Well that depends entirely on who the members are and how much involvement they want in running the scheme. Personal preference comes into play as much as anything else, as well as the objectives you have in mind. Both pensions must abide by HMRC rules to ensure they do not incur tax charges. Both SIPP and SSAS still enjoy the same benefits and tax relief as traditional pensions. It is always advisable to speak to your financial advisor or accountant when looking to transfer your pensions to a SIPP or a SSAS.

A SSAS is appropriate for you if…

  • Your individual or combined pension fund exceeds £75,000
  • You want to pool your pension fund alongside your spouse, family members or business partner
  • You’d like the option to lend money from your pension back to your company
  • You want to manage your pension fund with a more entrepreneurial approach in mind
  • You would like to purchase commercial property
  • You are looking for professional pension advice
  • You want more flexibility and control when dealing with pension investments
  • You would like to have flexibility in terms of drawing benefits when you’re retired
  • Alternative sources of income are available at retirement.

A SIPP is appropriate for you if…

  • Your pension fund is more than £75,000
  • You are seeking bespoke financial advice
  • You are willing to pay a higher level of charges (a SIPP tends to be more expensive than a “standard” pension)
  • You want more control over your pension investments in the stock market
  • You want flexibility in drawing benefits when you’re retired
  • Alternative sources of income are available at retirement.

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