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SSAS pensions

What are the benefits of a SSAS pension?

A small, self-administered scheme, or SSAS pension, is a type of pension offered to limited firms or partnerships in the UK. Directors use a SSAS to contribute towards paying for their retirement, primarily because they have control over the investments.

Although there are many other investment choices available, business owners frequently use their SSAS to invest in commercial real estate (such as their own premises).

What is a SSAS pension?

A SSAS is a type of occupational pension that a company’s directors can independently manage. Normally, the directors use a trustee company to ensure that their SSAS is operating within pension regulations.

Every member typically becomes a trustee and retains some control over the choice of investments. The group is “small” because there are no more than 11 members. They are more prevalent in small- and medium-sized enterprises and family-run businesses because of this.

How do SSAS pensions work?

With a few significant exceptions, SSAS pensions operate similarly to most other employment pension plans.

There are two types of SSAS:

  • Defined benefit SSAS arrangements. These are chosen as they can provide a means of making larger than normal contributions.
  • Defined contribution arrangements are the most popular type of SSAS. Other than the freedom of choice in investment, they operate and pay benefits like other defined contribution plans.

What benefits do SSAS pensions offer?

SSAS pensions provide a great deal of flexibility while maintaining the same tax efficiency as other plans. This appeals to entrepreneurial business owners.

Advantages of a SSAS

  • There is a very wide range of options for investing. That can be an advantage or disadvantage, depending on the actions of the trustees (normally the directors).
  • The trustees can combine the use of all the assets of the SSAS and buy a commercial property, including the company’s own premises, which is then leased back to the company.
  • The long-term returns can be leveraged by using a mortgage. The mortgage can be repaid by making further personal contributions and by rental payments by the company, thereby reducing the corporation tax of the company.

Disadvantages of a SSAS

  • If you fail to get proper advice, then you may end up making a poor choice of property or falling foul of pension regulations. There are heavy penalties for doing so.



We assisted two highly entrepreneurial directors to buy premises and escape from their lease agreement. They insisted on using their own solicitor. It later became apparent that the solicitor was not experienced in this area, and we had to inform her that as the directors were also trustees and “connected”, it was necessary to obtain a “red book” valuation from a RICS surveyor.

The valuation was issued and was £50,000 less than the price agreed.

The directors would have left matters there. We gave them a message to relay to the selling agent, and they agreed to reduce the price by £45,000!

Successful business owner

A business owner had created a highly profitable business over the years but had always operated from leased premises.

Professional contacts advised him to use our services.

Just as well, the property he had chosen to buy was in central London, and the price was beyond the scope of the rules for SSAS purchases.

We engineered a combined SSAS and company purchase of the premises, and over the next three years, we adjusted the arrangement so that three years later, the SSAS owned 100% of the premises.

The property required considerable renovation and was split into two parts: one part was let for a very high rent, and the other was used for running the business.

Property valuations are required every three years under pension regulations. The director telephoned us to say how delighted he was, as the value had grown from the £1 million purchase price to £4 million!

The members themselves must serve as trustees in the absence of a pension provider. As a result, they are legally responsible for managing the pension and ensuring compliance with pension law.

The administrative tasks

The trustees are also charged with the additional duties of managing all HMRC reports and organising tax relief collection.

What distinguishes a SIPP from a SSAS pension?

Both SSAS and SIPP pensions provide you with control over how your pension pot is invested, which is a feature that they both share. SSAS pensions are for directors and are managed by all the scheme’s trustees (including them).

Self-invested personal pensions (SIPP) are arranged under a master trust, and it is necessary to adhere to the master trust rules, which can make property purchases more time-consuming (up to one year) in some cases.

Is it possible to convert my current pension to a SSAS pension?

An existing pension fund may be converted into a SSAS pension. To be sure it’s the appropriate choice, it’s a good idea to speak with us first.

What expenses are associated with a SSAS pension?

SSAS pension setup fees vary depending on whether you choose a pension provider or do it yourself. If you use a provider, you’ll normally have to pay a setup charge, an annual administration cost, and, if necessary, transfer-in fees. Once you begin utilising the programme, you will also be required to pay fees, such as those related to borrowing money or buying property.

How should a SSAS pension be set up?

We recommend that you seek advice before attempting to establish a SSAS. We have considerable experience with this type of scheme and will let you know if it is suitable for you and your company.

What are the various SSAS pension withdrawal options?

Members of SSAS pensions can take their benefits at retirement using the standard pension alternatives. They can choose to take the first 25% of their share as a tax-free lump payment and utilise the remaining pension to produce income, typically by setting up a drawdown plan or buying an annuity, or even combining these two options.

What happens to my SSAS pension if I pass away?

The fact that SSAS pensions are an asset that can be passed down through the generations is one of its many advantages. Because the assets are part of the pension and not a person’s estate, it is essential to have correctly worded nominations in place.

Registered in England and Wales. Registered Number 5553273.
Registered Address: 8f Millars Brook, Molly Millars Lane, Wokingham, Berkshire, RG41 2AD.

A pension is a long-term investment that typically cannot be accessed until age 55 (57 from April 2028). The level of pension benefits offered could change depending on the value of your investments (and any income they may generate).

The interest rates in effect at the time you begin receiving benefits may also have an impact on your pension income. The tax consequences of pension withdrawals will depend on your unique situation. In later Finance Acts, tax rates, tax bases, and tax relief may change.

The opinions expressed by Ray Best are meant to inform and educate. Before making any investment decisions always take advice that is pertinent to your investment personality and financial situation.

You are aware that past performance will not necessarily be repeated in the future, but you should be aware that persistent poor performance invariably will.

The value of an investment and the income from it could go down as well as up.

The return at the end of the investment period is not guaranteed and you may get back less than you originally invested.

UnaVida Wealth Management Ltd. is directly authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (440577).

The guidance in this website is primarily aimed at a UK audience and is subject to regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate tax planning, estate planning, or wills and any form of legal documentation.