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Bespoke SSAS schemes
A bespoke SSAS is established by a specialist pensions consultant, is designed and invested according to the needs of the directors and the sponsoring company. These small administered schemes usually have contributions of £30,000 per annum or more and often one of the uses will be to purchase commercial property.

The consultants typically charge a annual fee based on the minimum number of hours of work required per annum to maintain a SSAS scheme, and is not related to the size of the pension fund. Any exceptional advise required due to a member retiring or a special contribution to be made requiring tax advice would attract an addition fee as agreed between the trustees and consultant.

A bespoke scheme is particularly cost effective for larger schemes with a fixed annual charge, fees charged for additional work when required and nil commission taken for any investments made by the SSAS. In general SSAS pension funds of less than £250,000 with no immediate need to purchase commercial property and low contributions may find the insured SSAS a more cost effective route.


Insured SSAS schemes
Insurance companies have produced a number of off-the-shelf SSAS products. In general these products are more suitable where the contributions to a SSAS pension fund are small, between £10,000 and £30,000 per annum, and there is no immediate intention to purchase commercial property. As with a bespoke SSAS, insured schemes must comply with the same rules and regulations as required by the IR SPSS. The main schemes available are:

Hybrid SSAS
  The insurance companies established a hybrid SSAS to split contributions between their internal insured funds and self investments with a minimum investment of usually £10,000 per annum. With modern hybrid SSAS schemes today the regular contributions to the insured funds should not attract excessive charges as was common in older schemes.

As with all SSAS pension funds the investments are pooled and not earmarked to any particular member. However, the insurance company operating the hybrid SSAS should have a system in place that determines the members interests in the SSAS.

The insurance company will have a wide range of experts that may include actuaries, pensioneer trustee, lawyers and administrators that can help establish the SSAS and thereafter provide this expertise on an hourly basis as required.
   
Nominal SSAS
  Here the maximum amount of a SSAS pension fund is invested in insurance company funds. Although the IR SPSS do not specify the amount to be self invested in order for a SSAS to be approved, the amount is approximately 10%. This means a SSAS must have at least 10% invested in assets other than the insurance company's funds and a nominal SSAS is designed for this purpose.
   
Trustee investment plans
  The trustee investment plan allows the SSAS access to an insurance company's funds on a low charge basis. These plans are usually structured as a single premium EPP policy and are owned by the SSAS pension fund as being one of possibly many investments.

The advantages are a wide range of funds to choose from, low fund charges, access to investment expertise, easy encashment of the policy and the funds are gross so the trustees do not need to reclaim the tax credits.
   
Deferred SSAS
  In this situation the insurance company will operate the pension fund on an insured basis with the intention of switching to a SSAS scheme in the future. In this situation the switch would be subject to the rules and regulations applied by the IR SPSS.

In cases where an EPP is later switched to a SSAS the IR SPSS have require at least 25% of the pension fund to be self invested and the switch may not be permitted if it is within 5 years of the EPP member's retirement date.
   
Self-managed EPP
  Due to changing regulations, the self-managed executive pension plan (EPP) now has to comply with many of the SSAS regulations and are therefore not as attractive. This type of EPP offers all the usual insurance company funds as well as a self-managed fund that can include commercial property, which would be in the name of the insurance company not the trustees of the SSAS pension fund.

In contrast to a SSAS, the assets of a self-managed EPP are earmarked to each member. This may be useful if the directors anticipate leaving in the future. There is also no restriction to the number of members and although no approval from the IR SPSS is required for specific investments the insurance company may apply asset type restrictions.
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