Boal & Co is celebrating after being named Best International Specialist Pension Provider at the International Fund and Product Awards 2012. Retirement Planner spoke to MD Gary Boal about the win
How does it feel to win this award?
We were delighted, as we felt this new awards category was ideally suited to our company profile which goes far beyond QROPs to cover other pension areas.
Our strength lies in the fact we have equally strong propositions in both the corporate and individual pension areas.
On the corporate side we deal with a lot of multinational companies who have staff in regions such as the Middle East and Africa, that are "difficult" in conventional pensions terms.
We work with leading employee benefit consulting firms in helping to create and manage trust-based pension scheme solutions for international employees.
For individuals, we are well known for offering QROPS pension transfer schemes, and at last year's IFPA we won a special award for technical innovation in the QROPS field for our Trinity 50C scheme.
Where do you expect to see growth coming from over the coming years?
We are based in the Isle of Man which is very much now the centre of choice when it comes to international pensions business. Many of the major employee benefit consultants now default to the Isle of Man when it comes to setting up new international pension schemes, and we have developed strong relationships with them.
On the corporate side our growth is coming from both new schemes as well as existing schemes relocating from other jurisdictions such as Bermuda or Guernsey.
In the individual market, I believe that the QROPS market will continue to grow well, and we are securing a good share of this business. For one thing, we will evidently see growth as a result of QROPS business that has been displaced from Guernsey.
Very recently, we were also selected for Skandia International's new QROPS panel, a tie-up which combines the Best International Specialist Pensions Provider 2012 with the Best International Life Group 2012, and which will doubtless expand the number of advisers placing business with us.
What are the key challenges you are currently facing?
Things never stay the same. The corporate pensions business is quite stable, and as a result we are now running schemes for members in over 110 countries. But when it comes to QROPS, we very much live in changing times, particularly when it comes to evolving UK tax rules.
Sometimes it can be hard to know what HMRC is really thinking, and it is a constant challenge to understand and adapt to changing circumstances. Having a multi-jurisdictional outlook, i.e. being able to create pension schemes in more than one international location, is a key response mechanism.
With QROPS, our proposition has already evolved considerably in recent years. We began with traditional Isle of Man QROPS, before creating a Guernsey QROPS, which we then eclipsed with our award-winning Isle of Man 50C scheme. We've now come full circle and are now once again using a conventional Isle of Man QROPS, in response to changing HMRC regulations.
Fiscal and regulatory change is a fact of life in all aspects of pensions; the key is always to quickly adapt to the changes, interpret them, be creative in response, and stay ahead of what the market needs.
So what is next?
We are currently working on several new international corporate schemes to bring them to the Isle of Man, so the corporate market is growing strongly.
In QROPS we are working on several initiatives to continue to develop our product range. We now have QROPS members in 43 countries (Ethiopia being the most recent addition).
What differentiates us from the opposition in the international pensions field is that we are a pension company staffed by pensions people, rather than a corporate service provider or an accounting/trust firm. The knowledge and professionalism of our staff really makes a difference.
Our focus is on continuing to grow the business, ensuring that we continue to deliver a quality pension scheme solution to all of our customers - i.e. our corporate clients, their professional advisers, and of course the scheme members all around the world.
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