ISLE OF MAN- The Isle of Man has taken an important step towards becoming a key jurisdiction for international pension schemes by introducing Retirement Benefits Schemes (International Schemes) Regulations 2001 at the beginning of the year

The move has created a framework which enables IoM Government approved international retirement benefits schemes, catering for non Isle of Man resident members or individuals, to be established on the island.

The latest Act is part of a raft of instruments introduced by the government over the past 16 months to improve regulation of pensions, and applies to both occupational and personal retirement schemes.

In October 2000 the Tynwald, the island’s parliament, passed the Retirement Benefits Schemes Act 2000 (RBSA 2000), legislation that established a broad pensions framework which applies to all schemes operating in or from the Isle of Man.

In a further development, and in recognition that different considerations apply to domestic and international pensions markets, the Insurance & Pensions Authority elected to introduce market-specific legislation subordinate to RBSA 2000 by creating separate international and domestic regulations under the main Act.

This approach enables both home and overseas markets to be catered for within the broad parameters of one overriding Act, which is entirely consistent with the current level playing field approach the island is adopting regarding new legislation.

Says Michael Lightfoot, of the island’s Insurance and Pensions Authority: “the intention is to pave the way for multinational employers, or individual workers undertaking overseas employment, to gain access to fully regulated offshore retirement benefit solutions. Unlike other offshore jurisdictions we are not necessarily looking towards a volume market involving small group schemes or personal pension.

“Rather we see the strength of our regulations being the ability for multi national companies and ultra high net worth individuals to tailor bespoke arrangements to suit various country specific, multi jurisdictional or personal circumstances.”

This is possible because of the flexible approach the Authority has adopted. The overall objective is to provide suitable protection to members and beneficiaries of Isle of Man based schemes.

Having established set rules on those approved to act in relation to international schemes the Authority has avoided being too prescriptive regarding the way in which schemes are constructed, or the precise format or dates at which benefits can be taken by members.