Full SIPP: What Does It Entail?

A Full SIPP provides the broadest investment choices, including commercial property and overseas investments, offering unparalleled control and flexibility for experienced investors. It's designed for those who seek a hands-on approach to managing their pension portfolio.
  • Last Updated: 22 Mar 2024
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Francis Hui
Discover Its Unparalleled Tax Perks, Flexible Options and Smart Investment Strategies. Unearth How This Powerful Pension Tool Can Elevate Your Retirement Savings. Ready to Unlock Your Financial Potential?
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Key Takeaways
  • A Full SIPP (Self-Invested Personal Pension) is a UK pension scheme that provides a higher level of control over your investment decisions, where your contributions are typically invested in a wider range of assets than other pension plans.
  • The key benefits include its flexibility, broader investment choices, the potential for better returns, tax efficiency, and the option to pass your pension on to your beneficiaries.
  • To set up, you would need to choose a SIPP provider, complete their application process, which usually includes providing personal and financial information, and then start making contributions or transferring assets.
  • Risks associated with it include the potential for losses if your chosen investments perform poorly, the complexity and time commitment required to manage it, and possibly higher fees than other pension plans.
  • To be eligible you must be a UK resident, be 18 years or older, and have relevant earnings or a UK pension to transfer; there are no specific income or employment requirements.

A Full SIPP is the Rolls-Royce of the Self-Invested Personal Pension world, offering all the bells and whistles. 

Interestingly, data from the Financial Conduct Authority shows that close to 900,000 SIPPs were purchased in 2022, marking the most significant number since 2018 and highlighting an increasing financial optimism among investors.1

This surge in interest underscores the appeal of SIPPs as an investment vehicle for many savers.

In This Article, You Will Discover:

    At Every Investor, our commitment lies in providing reliable and well-researched information. We have conducted thorough research on Full SIPP, drawing insights from a wide range of resources to offer you accurate and actionable insights.

    What Is a Full SIPP and How Does It Work?

    A Full SIPP, or Self-Invested Personal Pension, is a type of pension that gives you complete control over your retirement funds. Unlike other pension schemes, this type of SIPP allows you to choose from a wide range of investments like stocks, bonds, and commercial properties.

    This gives us the flexibility to diversify our retirement portfolio, which can potentially yield higher returns. Managing a Full SIPP involves a hands-on approach, as we make our own investment decisions.

    However, this requires a strong understanding of financial markets to make informed choices. Also, it’s crucial to remember that while the potential for higher returns is appealing, the risk is also higher.

    Therefore, we should carefully consider our risk tolerance when investing through a Full SIPP.

    What Are the Key Features of Full SIPPs?

    The key features are tax relief up to certain contribution limits, other tax advantages, and a wide range of investment choices. 

    Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

    What Are the Contribution Limits on a Full SIPP?

    There are no contribution limits on a Full SIPP, but for tax relief purposes the annual allowance is up to 100% of your yearly earnings or £60,000, whichever’s lower.3 

    Any contributions made beyond this threshold in a tax year will not qualify for the relief.

    You can carry over any annual allowance you may not have used in the past three tax years.

    Are There Tax Advantages With a Full SIPP?

    A Full Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) offers several tax advantages, from your contributions to what you leave for your family.

    These advantages include: 

    • Tax relief on contributions: The government adds tax relief at the 20% basic rate. So, if you contribute £80, the government will add another £20, making a total contribution of £100. You can claim back even more through your tax return if you’re a higher and additional-rate taxpayer.4
    • Tax-free growth: Growth on investments held within a SIPP is free of UK capital gains tax and income tax.5
    • Tax-free lump sum: Once you reach the age of 55, you can typically take up to 25% of your pension pot as a tax-free lump sum.6
    • Flexibility in drawing income: After taking any tax-free lump sum, you can use the remainder of your SIPP to provide a taxable income, either through purchasing an annuity or via income drawdown.7 
    • Inheritance benefits: SIPPs can be passed on to your beneficiaries. Depending on when you die (before or after age 75), there may be tax implications, but SIPPs can be an effective tool for estate planning.8

    It’s always a good idea to consult with a financial advisor or tax expert when making decisions about pensions and investments.

    What Types of Investment Can You Choose?

    The types of investment you can choose for a Full SIPP generally encompass a wide range of asset classes.

    These include:9

    • Stocks and shares
    • Bonds
    • Funds
    • Exchange-traded funds (ETFs)
    • Commercial property 
    • Commodities
    • Cash
    • Structured products
    • Hedge funds
    • Private equity
    • Trusts (including Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs))
    • Foreign currency

    It’s crucial to remember that while SIPPs offer a vast range of investment options, each investment type comes with its own risk profile. 

    Therefore, it’s essential to consult with a financial advisor to understand these risks and ensure your choices align with your long-term financial goals and risk tolerance.

    What’s the Difference Between a Full SIPP & Other Types of SIPP?

    The main difference between a Full SIPP and other types of SIPPs lies in the level of flexibility and investment options. 

    Full SIPPs provide a broader range of investment choices, including commercial property and a wider variety of assets, making them suitable for more experienced investors. 

    On the other hand, other SIPPs cater to those looking for simpler, more straightforward pension solutions, often with a lower cost structure.


    Getting advice from professionals is essential to making informed decisions and achieving optimal outcomes.

    For example:

    • Full SIPP: Often allows you to appoint a discretionary fund manager,10 given its target demographic of more knowledgeable investors.
    • Other SIPPs: While advice can still be sought, these platforms may be more geared towards DIY investors using online platforms without much external input.

    Control & Flexibility

    Full SIPPs offer more control over investment decisions, unlike other SIPPs with limited investment choices.

    For example:

    • Full SIPP: As the name suggests, offers maximum flexibility in terms of contributions, withdrawals, and investment changes.
    • Other SIPPs: Might have restrictions on how often you can trade, change investments, or make withdrawals without incurring extra charges.

    Fees & Charges

    Full SIPPs may come with higher fees due to increased investment flexibility, compared to other types of SIPPs.

    For example:

    • Full SIPP: This could include set-up fees, annual management fees, transaction fees, and any additional advisory fees. 
    • Other SIPPs: Designed to be more cost-effective, they may offer fewer investment options and may have fewer features.


    Full SIPPs allow more flexible contribution patterns compared to other pension schemes.

    For example:

    • Full SIPP: Typically allows for larger contribution amounts and may offer more flexibility in terms of regular and one-off contributions.
    • Other SIPPs: May have more restrictions or guidelines on contribution amounts, frequencies, and methods, especially if they’re designed for a more standardised investing approach.

    Investment Options

    Full SIPPs offer a wider range of investment options compared to other pension plans.

    For example:

    • Full SIPP: Offers the widest range of investment options, including commercial property, individual stocks and shares, unlisted shares, and more. It’s designed for those who want maximum control over their investment strategy.
    • Other SIPPs: These offer a more restricted or specialised range of investment choices, primarily focusing on standard assets like listed stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.

    What Are the Benefits of Full SIPPs?

    Full SIPPs offer flexibility in investment choices, significant tax advantages, and the potential for higher returns.

    Let’s take a closer look at these and other advantages: 

    • Diverse Investment Options: Full SIPPs allow a wide range of investments, including stocks, bonds, commercial property, and alternative assets, providing greater flexibility for investors.
    • Investment Control: Investors have greater control over their pension funds, allowing for tailored investment strategies that suit their financial goals.
    • Tax Efficiency: Full SIPPs provide potential tax benefits, including tax relief on contributions and the ability to grow investments tax-free until retirement.
    • Estate Planning: They can be a useful tool for estate planning, allowing investors to pass on their pension wealth to beneficiaries, often free from inheritance tax.
    • Consolidation: Full SIPPs enable individuals to consolidate multiple pension pots into a single account, simplifying pension management.
    • Flexible Drawdown: They offer flexible retirement income options, including income drawdown and annuities, allowing individuals to choose the most suitable method for their needs.
    • Control Over Costs: Investors can manage and potentially reduce costs by selecting their investments and investment platforms.
    • Long-Term Growth Potential: With a broad array of investment choices, Full SIPPs have the potential for long-term capital growth.
    • Personalised Retirement Planning: They allow for tailored retirement planning, accommodating a wide range of financial circumstances and retirement goals.
    • Transparency: Full SIPPs provide transparency, allowing investors to track the performance of their investments easily.

    It’s essential to consider that while Full SIPPs offer many advantages, they also come with greater responsibility and potentially higher management fees. Therefore, investors should carefully assess their needs, risk tolerance, and financial goals before choosing this type of pension.

    What Are the Risks of Full SIPPs?

    Full SIPPs, while offering flexibility, come with inherent investment risks and the demanding responsibility of monitoring and managing investment performance.

    Let’s explore some of the risks associated with Full SIPPS:

    • Investment Risk: With a Full SIPP, investors have more control over their investments, but this also means they bear the full responsibility for investment choices. Poorly performing investments or market downturns can lead to financial losses.
    • Complexity: Managing a Full SIPP can be complex, especially for those without investment expertise. Making uninformed investment decisions can have detrimental consequences.
    • Risk of Overconcentration: Investors may be tempted to overconcentrate their investments in a particular asset class, sector, or region, which can increase risk if that investment performs poorly.
    • Lack of Diversification: Failing to diversify investments can increase the overall risk of the pension portfolio. A lack of diversification can result in more significant losses during market downturns.
    • High Fees: Managing a Full SIPP may involve higher fees, especially if investors engage in frequent trading or have a complex investment strategy.
    • Liquidity Risk: Some investments within a Full SIPP may not be readily liquid, making it difficult to access funds in emergencies.
    • Regulatory Changes: Changes in pension regulations or tax laws can impact the benefits and rules associated with Full SIPPs.
    • Inheritance Tax Risk: While Full SIPPs can offer estate planning benefits, the rules around inheritance tax are subject to change, and individuals should stay informed about potential impacts.
    • Long-Term Commitment: Full SIPPs are intended for long-term retirement planning. Withdrawing funds early may result in penalties and reduced retirement income.
    • Market Volatility: Market fluctuations can impact the value of investments within the Full SIPP, potentially affecting the overall pension fund’s performance.

    It’s important for individuals considering a Full SIPP to thoroughly research and understand the associated risks and benefits. 

    Many investors seek professional financial advice when managing their Full SIPPs to make informed decisions that align with their financial goals and risk tolerance.

    What Kind of Investor Are Full SIPPs Best Suited to?

    Full SIPPs are well-suited for knowledgeable and engaged investors who desire more control over their retirement savings and are comfortable with investment risk.

    Do You Qualify for a Full SIPP?

    To qualify for a Full SIPP, you need to be a UK resident between the ages of 18 and 75. 

    However, specific eligibility criteria may vary among providers.

    How to Open & Manage a Full SIPP Account

    Opening a Full SIPP involves choosing a reputable provider, completing the necessary paperwork, and funding the account. 

    Management entails actively monitoring and adjusting investments as needed.

    Choosing the Right Full SIPP Provider 

    When choosing a Full SIPP provider do thorough research to find the one that best suits your needs.

    What to Consider When Choosing a Full SIPP Provider

    When selecting a Full SIPP provider, it’s essential to consider factors such as:

    • Fees
    • Investment options
    • Online tools
    • Customer support 

    Taking this holistic approach will ensure you find a provider that aligns with your specific requirements.

    Comparing Different Full SIPP Providers

    When comparing different Full SIPP (Self-Invested Personal Pension) providers, it’s crucial to consider various factors to make an informed decision that suits your financial goals and preferences. 

    Here are key aspects to evaluate:

    • Fees and charges
    • Investment options
    • Online tools and platform
    • Customer support
    • Regulatory reputation
    • Account access
    • Exit strategy
    • Client reviews and ratings
    • Additional services
    • Long-term viability

    By thoroughly evaluating these factors and comparing providers, you can make an informed choice that best suits your retirement planning objectives and preferences. 

    It’s also advisable to seek professional financial advice when making such a significant decision.

    What Are the Alternatives to Full SIPPs?

    The alternatives to Full SIPPs include other types of SIPPs workplace pensions, personal pensions, and stakeholder pensions, each with varying degrees of investment flexibility and control.

    Common Questions

    Can I Transfer My Existing Pension Into a Full SIPP?

    What Types of Investments Can I Hold Within a Full SIPP?

    Are There Any Tax Advantages Associated With Full SIPPs?

    What Happens to My Full SIPP When I Reach Retirement Age?

    What is a Full SIPP and How Does It Work?

    What Are the Benefits of a Full SIPP?

    How to Set Up a Full SIPP?

    What Are the Risks Involved in a Full SIPP?

    Who is Eligible for a Full SIPP?

    In Conclusion

    The Full SIPP combines flexibility with the promise of diverse investment opportunities.

    Its growing popularity, as evidenced by recent uptake numbers, is a testament to its value in the eyes of investors. 

    However, like all investment vehicles, it demands careful consideration, management, and understanding of its associated risks. 

    In the end, if you’re willing to harness its potential, you’ll find the Full SIPP a useful tool in your retirement planning arsenal.

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