Best International SIPPS Providers: Who Tops the List?

The best international SIPP providers excel in offering diverse global investment opportunities and tax efficiency for expatriates or those retiring abroad, with firms like AJ Bell and James Hay leading due to their extensive international reach and expertise.
  • Last Updated: 22 Mar 2024
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Francis Hui
Dive Into the Key Differences Between a SIPP & International SIPP. Get Expert Insights on Making the Right Choice Now.
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Key Takeaways
  • Top providers offer expats tailored pension solutions with multi-currency options and global investment opportunities.
  • Catering to non-UK residents, these providers deliver flexible retirement plans that adhere to both UK and international regulations.
  • Standout features include a broad selection of investment choices, the ability to handle multiple currencies, and tax-efficient withdrawal strategies.
  • Currency flexibility is a key offering, allowing expats to manage retirement savings in various currencies.
  • Expats benefit from accessing a global investment platform that supports retirement planning across different countries.

Investors looking for the best international SIPP providers have a lot to consider. 

With a growing range of Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) options on the market, it can be hard to know where to start. 

Which providers truly stand out from the crowd, and what criteria should investors use to make their decision?

In This Article, You Will Discover:

    With so much at stake, finding the best international SIPP provider for your needs is essential. 

    This is where Every Investor’s expert team comes in with this exploration of the top international SIPP providers and examination of the factors that set them apart from the competition.

    The decision you make now could have a major impact on your financial future.

    What Is a SIPP?

    A Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) is a type of pension plan that gives individuals in the UK greater control over their retirement investments.

    It allows for a wide range of investment choices, including stocks, bonds, and real estate.

    Unlike traditional pensions, SIPPs offer flexibility to manage your investments or appoint a financial advisor.

    This makes it a popular choice for those seeking to tailor their retirement savings to their specific financial goals.

    Which International SIPP Providers Are Considered the Best?

    Two international SIPP providers that are widely regarded as the best in the industry.

    The first is AJ Bell Youinvest, a reputable and highly trusted provider with a strong track record.

    They offer a comprehensive range of investment options, competitive fees, and excellent customer service.

    Another top-tier international SIPP provider is Interactive Investor, known for their user-friendly platform, extensive investment choices, and competitive pricing.

    They also provide valuable research tools and educational resources to assist investors in making informed decisions.

    Both of these providers have a proven reputation for delivering exceptional service and are highly recommended for individuals seeking top-notch international SIPP solutions. When it comes to selecting the best international SIPP providers, two names consistently stand out among the rest.

    AJ Bell Youinvest is a top choice for its reliability, experience, and comprehensive range of investment options.

    With competitive fees and outstanding customer service, they are a trusted provider that consistently delivers exceptional value to their clients.

    Another leading international SIPP provider is Interactive Investor, renowned for their user-friendly platform and wide array of investment choices.

    Alongside competitive pricing, they offer valuable research tools and educational resources, empowering investors to make informed decisions.

    These two providers epitomize excellence in the international SIPP industry and are highly recommended for those seeking the best options available.

    What Is the Difference Between a SIPP & an International SIPP?

    The difference between a SIPP and an International SIPP lies primarily in their intended clientele and geographical flexibility. 

    A ‘normal’ SIPP is:

    • a UK-based pension scheme that allows individuals to make their own investment decisions from a wide range of assets, including stocks, bonds, and property. 
    • designed for UK residents and is regulated by UK financial authorities.

    On the other hand, an International SIPP: 

    • is tailored to individuals who are either living abroad or planning to retire outside the UK.1 
    • operates similarly to a regular SIPP in terms of investment choices, but its international nature means it may offer more flexibility for currency options and international investment opportunities.2 
    • is also regulated under UK law, but it is specifically structured to cater to the needs of expatriates or international workers.3

    Essentially

    All SIPPs are UK-based products that are regulated by the FCA and must be provided by FCA-regulated firms. 

    So-called ‘International’ SIPPs are, in basic terms, regular SIPPs that are available to investors who live outside the UK.4 

    Good to know

    It is important for individuals to consider their long-term residency plans and seek financial advice to understand which type of SIPP would best suit their retirement planning needs.

    What Is the Appeal of International SIPPs?

    The appeal of International SIPPs lies in their flexibility and suitability for individuals with international lifestyles or retirement plans. 

    In other words

    These pensions are particularly attractive for expatriates or those who intend to retire abroad. 

    Key features that enhance their appeal include, among other aspects:

    • access to a wide range of investment options
    • the option to invest in multiple currencies
    • their manageability from abroad

    The next section will discuss the potential benefits of International SIPPs in more detail.

    What Are the Benefits of an International SIPP?

    The benefits of an International SIPP include its portability, global accessibility, and its estate-planning advantages. 

    A closer look at these benefits:

    • Range of Investment Options: International SIPPs offer a wide range of investment choices, including international funds and assets, which can be more aligned with the needs of individuals living or retiring overseas.
    • Currency Flexibility: They allow for investments in multiple currencies, which is beneficial for those who might be exposed to currency risk or who earn and spend in different currencies.
    • Portability: Unlike traditional UK pensions, International SIPPs can be more easily managed from abroad, making them convenient for people who are not residing in the UK. Most International SIPPs can also be transferred to a provider of ‘traditional’ SIPPs in the UK if you decide to move back.5
    • Cheaper than a QROPS: According to Dan Ward from InvestingReviews, a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme, or QROPS, can cost as much as four figures in fees each year, whereas an International SIPP can be maintained for as little as £180 annually.6 
    • UK Regulatory Protection: Despite their international availability, these SIPPs are regulated by the FCA and fall under FSCS protection.
    • Tax Efficiency: For non-UK residents, International SIPPs might offer certain tax advantages, depending on the individual’s circumstances and the tax regulations of the country they reside in. For instance, you will typically not have to pay UK tax on your SIPP drawdowns.
    • Estate Planning Benefits: They can offer more flexibility in terms of inheritance planning, particularly for those with beneficiaries in multiple countries.

    However, individuals need to seek tailored financial advice, as the suitability of an International SIPP will depend on personal circumstances, including tax implications, residency status, and long-term financial goals.

    What Are the Drawbacks to an International SIPP?

    The drawbacks to an International SIPP should not be overlooked despite the potential benefits for expatriates and those planning to retire abroad.

    These drawbacks include:

    • Complexity and Management: International SIPPs can be more complex to manage than standard pensions owing to their international nature and wider range of investment options. This complexity might require more active management or the need for professional financial advice.
    • Costs and Fees: Generally, International SIPPs may incur higher fees than domestic pension schemes. These can include setup fees, annual management fees, and charges for transactions or transfers, which can eat into investment returns over time.
    • Tax Implications: While there can be tax advantages from the UK side, the tax treatment of International SIPPs depends on the regulations of the country where the individual is resident. There can be complexities regarding tax relief on contributions and on the taxation of pension withdrawals, especially if tax laws change. Typically, contributions will be taxed based on the laws of the country you are primarily resident in.7
    • Regulatory Risks: Although regulated by UK authorities, changes in pension regulations either in the UK or in the country of residence can affect the benefits and operation of an International SIPP.
    • Currency Risk: Despite the advantage of currency flexibility, there is also an inherent currency risk. Fluctuations in exchange rates can impact the value of the pension, especially if withdrawals are made in a different currency than the one used for investments.
    • Investment Risk: The wider range of investment options also brings a higher degree of risk, particularly if investing in volatile international markets or in unfamiliar asset classes.
    • Accessibility and Administration: Managing a pension from abroad can sometimes be challenging, particularly in dealing with different time zones and administrative requirements.
    • Estate Planning Complications: While offering flexibility in estate planning, the different inheritance laws and tax implications in various countries can complicate the process.

    It is important for individuals considering an International SIPP to weigh these drawbacks against the benefits, taking into account their personal circumstances, retirement goals, and the specific regulations of their country of residence. 

    Seeking advice from a financial advisor who understands both the UK pension system and the implications of living abroad is often crucial in making an informed decision.

    Who Are the Top International SIPP Providers?

    Who the top International SIPP providers are will always be a matter for debate, but you should still do your research to find the best potential fit for you.

    Here are a few names to start with:

    • Hargreaves Lansdown: This SIPP is available to investors based in the UK and outside it, and holding fees are capped at 0,45%.8
    • STM International Pension Plan: Provided by London & Colonial, this International SIPP comes with a choice of a fixed-rate annual fee or a fee that allows you to pay for the features you want as and when you add them.9
    • Harbour International SIPP: This option is provided by PSG SIPP Limited.10
    • Novia Global UK SIPP: This International SIPP comes with a £54 quarterly fee, plus a custodian charge, a trading charge, investment manager charges, and other potential charges.11

    Fees are not the sole criterion on which to base your decision, but it may be a useful place to start when researching your options. 

    Remember

    This is not an exhaustive list, and the best provider for you will depend on your individual circumstances and needs. 

    It is crucial to conduct thorough research and seek professional financial advice before choosing an International SIPP provider.

    Choosing the Best International SIPP Providers

    Choosing the best international SIPP providers involves looking at regulatory compliance, evaluating investment choices, and analysing stock market risks.

    Here are key considerations to help you make an informed choice:

    • Reputation and Regulatory Compliance: Look for a provider with a strong reputation and track record. Ensure they are regulated by a reputable financial authority, like the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which offers a level of security and oversight.
    • Fees and Charges: Compare the fee structures of different providers. This includes setup fees, annual management fees, transaction fees, and any other charges. Lower fees can significantly impact the long-term growth of your pension.
    • Investment Options: Evaluate the range of investment choices offered. A good provider should offer a diverse portfolio of assets, including stocks, bonds, funds, and possibly property. Find out which firms provide access to the international markets you are interested in.
    • Currency Flexibility: If you will be dealing with multiple currencies, check if the provider offers multi-currency options for investments and withdrawals, which can help manage currency risk.
    • Customer Service and Support: Good customer service is crucial, especially when managing your pension from abroad. Look for providers offering accessible, knowledgeable, and responsive support.
    • Online Access and Management Tools: Ensure the provider offers robust online tools for monitoring and managing your investments, as this is particularly important when you are travelling between countries.
    • Taxation Expertise: The provider should have expertise in the tax implications of International SIPPs, both in the UK and in your country of residence. This knowledge is vital for effective retirement planning.
    • Flexibility and Portability: Consider how flexible the SIPP is in terms of contributions, withdrawals, and transfers. This is important if you might move to different countries or change your retirement plans.
    • Client Reviews and Testimonials: Look for feedback from existing clients to gauge their satisfaction levels and the provider’s ability to handle the specific needs of international clients.
    • Financial Strength and Stability: Assess the financial health and stability of the provider. A financially secure provider is crucial for the long-term safety of your retirement funds.

    Remember, the best provider for one person might not be the best for another, as it depends on individual circumstances, such as your retirement goals, investment experience, and specific needs as an international retiree. 

    Speak to a financial advisor who can provide tailored advice based on your unique situation.

    How Do You Set Up an International SIPP?

    You set up an international SIPP by researching providers, completing application forms, verifying your identity, funding your account, and selecting investments.

    The Application Process

    The International SIPP application process varies by provider and usually requires the submission of personal details, financial information, and identity documents.

    The provider will review your application and, upon approval, set up your SIPP account.

    Managing Fund Transfers & Consolidation

    During the setup, you may need to transfer funds from your existing UK pension schemes to  your International SIPP account. 

    This process might involve consolidating multiple pensions into one SIPP for easier management.

    What Are the International Tax Implications?

    The international tax implications tied to your International SIPP come down to the tax consequences of investing and managing funds in foreign jurisdictions.

    Both traditional and International SIPPs offer UK tax benefits (like the option of taking a 25% lump sum at retirement free from UK income tax); however, specifics may vary when it comes to other aspects, particularly in terms of tax on contributions and benefits.

    How these taxes apply to you will depend on your residency status and where exactly you live.

    Important

    Speak to a qualified pensions or tax advisor who understands the tax laws of both the UK and your country of residence before deciding on an International SIPP. 

    Common Questions

    Who Are the Best International SIPP Providers for Expats

    How Do Best International SIPP Providers Cater to Non-UK Residents

    What Features Make an International SIPP Provider Stand Out

    Can Best International SIPP Providers Offer Currency Flexibility

    Why Should Expats Consider the Best International SIPP Providers

    What Makes an International SIPP Provider the 'Best'

    How Do I Compare International SIPP Providers

    Can a Non-UK Resident Have a SIPP

    Can I Hold Foreign Currency in a SIPP

    What Happens to My SIPP if I Leave the UK

    Can I Buy US Shares in a UK SIPP

    Can I Pay Into a UK SIPP if I Live Abroad

    Do I Need to Complete a Tax Return if I Have an International SIPP

    In Conclusion

    International SIPPs present a compelling option for investors outside the UK, offering flexibility, global investment opportunities, and potential tax advantages. 

    However, these benefits come with considerations such as complexity, higher fees, and the need for diligent management, especially considering the different tax regulations in various countries. 

    For expatriates and those planning retirement abroad, it is crucial to weigh these factors carefully. 

    Seeking advice from a financial advisor is often advisable to navigate the intricacies of International SIPPs. 

    Ultimately, your choice of provider should align with your individual investment goals, financial circumstances, and the specific needs you have to address while living abroad. 

    To ensure the most beneficial arrangement, it is essential to research and select from among the best International SIPP providers, considering factors like fees, investment options, and regulatory compliance.

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