UK - The Isle of Man is set to enter the global pensions arena in a move that could see the creation of new pension schemes and attract further business to the Isle's existing pensions industry.
The Isle of Man Insurance & Pensions Authority awaiting approval for the the new Retirement Benefits Schemes Regulations from its Parliament.
The new legislation stems from the existing Retirement Benefits Schemes Act 2000, passed last year, which established a broad framework for all Manx pension plans. The new regulation is a move towards a more market-specific approach, with separate guidelines for domestic and international schemes. Similar domestic regulations are anticipated later next year.
According to the Authority’s Mike Lightfoot, the international regulations are also intended to help companies deal with the requirements of a mobile labour labour force, reduce costs, and offer a “catch all jurisdiction” and “reassurance package”.
“[The Isle of Man Insurance & Pensions Authority has] focussed on our role as prudential regulator and the need for us to ensure that all schemes authorised by the Authority provide suitable protection for members and beneficiaries, in addition to making sure that we have reached the right balance between providing the market with a large degree of flexibility in scheme construction, and establishing our core regulatory controls.”
Lightfoot added that the Authority has already held talks with “big-player” multinational companies “who feel that that the Island has a great deal to offer in this area.”
The Regulations - which cover both private and occupational schemes - also hope to herald new opportunities for Manx firms to capitalise on pension trustee, investment and administration business.
At present it is difficult to quantify the exact size of the pensions industry on the Isle, according to Lightfoot. The Isle has not previously been charged with regulating pensions, meaning that life companies have not been required to identify pension assets within their returns, and pension schemes do not submit any official returns. However, the offshore life assurance industry - the principal writer of Manx pensions business - is estimated at around £20bn. Overall, said Lightfoot, new business will expand on already “extremely large” assets.
Once launched in January 2002, schemes will also be required by the International Regulation to submit formal annual returns.
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