And the directors of the Belfast-based firm turned to their own product – a bespoke pension arrangement – to secure the purchase of a larger commercial property.
Set up in 2010, SSAS Solutions is Northern Ireland’s only firm of dedicated Small Self-Administered Scheme (SSAS) consultants offering business owners a tailored retirement solution.
The firm moved to its current Ravenhill Road base in 2012 when owners Allison Chambers and Michael Galway used money from their accrued pension pots to establish a trust which bought new premises and now leases it back to their business.
It is an arrangement familiar to Allison and Michael who between them have more than 30 years’ experience in delivering this unique pension product to owner-managed and family businesses across Northern Ireland and beyond.
The pair had already worked together for more than a decade at global business advisory firm PwC but identified the need for a new approach around the use of small self-administered pension schemes.
SSAS schemes can be used by company directors and, in fact, any employer to open up a wide range of investment opportunities, most typically for the purchase of commercial property or loan-backs to the sponsoring firm.
Allison and Michael’s knowledge of the pensions industry, coupled with a distinctive business model, enables their clients to benefit from a level of experience that is unrivalled in Northern Ireland.
SSAS Solutions has been at the forefront of the rising popularity of SSAS schemes in Northern Ireland over recent years, evidenced by the firm’s phenomenal growth.
This year, the company eclipsed £1 million turnover for the first time representing a 185 per cent increase since 2013.
Over the same time period, its client base has risen from just over 120 schemes to more than 300, including some of Northern Ireland’s best-known companies, business men and women and high net worth individuals.
This period of major growth was boosted by the firm’s move to its current offices.
However, Allison explained SSAS Solutions had already been on the growth trajectory:
“When we set up SSAS Solutions, there were only two of us working full-time on the business so we operated from a small rented office space.
“This suited our needs at the time but it proved an inefficient way to spend company cash as rent ate into our profits, and such was the pace of growth, we quickly outgrew the office.
“Our medium-term objective had been to purchase a property from which the business could operate and grow, but this soon became a short-term goal, due to the demand for our product.
“Our office accommodation at the time was inhibiting further expansion as we were unable to recruit and storage was also becoming an issue.
“We then used our own product – a SSAS – and by a combination of utilising accrued pension funds and new company pension contributions, we were able to purchase our own business premises.
“The premises are owned by the pension trust and leased back to SSAS Solutions.”
The arrangement means that Allison and Michael now own their business premises but have acquired them with the help of tax relief and as a result of the many tax advantages of the SSAS.
The pension pot continues to grow as it accumulates rent tax-free from the leasing of the building back to SSAS Solutions – which also enjoys a tax deduction for the rent.
As Michael explained, the strategy adopted is representative of the planning and advice offered to SSAS Solutions clients:
“Clients come to us because they want to grow their business and are seeking efficient ways to do so while sheltering their profits from tax, and that is exactly what we have down with our own business.
“There are numerous investment opportunities which become available by setting up a SSAS but the most common are to purchase commercial property or to secure a loan back to the sponsoring company.
“It is not by chance that the purchase by the pension trust of our own property coincided with the beginning of a period of rapid growth for SSAS Solutions which has continued to the present day.
“Our SSAS has been successful because the rent paid by the tenant (SSAS Solutions) is equivalent to an 8 per cent yield which produces a steady investment return for the pension fund.”
The scheme, and others set up by SSAS Solutions, has been particularly effective because it was tailored to the specific needs of Allison and Michael and their growing business.
“Because we are based in Northern Ireland, we provide a local and personal approach that sets us apart from competitors.
“By sitting down with clients, who represent all sectors in the economy, we can formulate bespoke schemes that enable investments many thought would not otherwise have been possible.”
Michael said the schemes administered by SSAS Solutions provide a much greater flexibility than other traditional models:
“When it comes to business finances, we believe the greater the flexibility, the better.
“Many of our clients have switched to using a SSAS from other pension arrangements such as SIPPs.
“SSAS schemes can have as few as one member and in addition to directors, can also include other key employees and family members.
“Unlike other providers SSAS Solutions does not act as a co-trustee of the scheme, offering greater freedom to business owners and putting them in control of their pension investments.
“However, along with our trusted bank of professional partners, we are always on hand to support clients where needed.”
SSAS Solutions establishes new schemes and can also take-over existing pension schemes. It provides a full administration and HMRC compliance service for the operation and management of SSASs along with a full range of consultancy and strategic advice to compliment this unique product.
For more information and to find out how SSAS Solutions can help you and your business, visit www.ssassolutions.com or call 028 9037 6970
What is a SSAS?
A SSAS – or Small Self-Administered Scheme – is a pension trust that provides a greater level of flexibility and control when compared to traditional pension arrangements, enabling business owners to invest their pension assets in a more entrepreneurial way.
Who can have one?
Any employer, including sole traders and those in partnerships. Schemes can have as few as one member and can include directors or partners, key employees and family members.
SSAS Solutions’ clients are drawn from every sector of the economy in Northern Ireland.
What can I invest in?
- Commercial property and land
- Loan-backs to the scheme sponsoring employer
- Gold bullion
- Foreign currency
- Residential land (but not residential property)
- Loans to unconnected third parties.
How do I benefit?
Greater control over existing pension assets and potentially adding to these by making new contributions with the benefit of corporation tax relief alongside a bespoke investment strategy.
Schemes provided by SSAS Solutions give an unrivalled level of flexibility and control by putting the pension fund cheque book in the hands of trustees – ‘run your own business, run your own pension scheme’.
When can I withdraw money?
Pension benefits can be drawn from the SSAS at any stage from the age of 55 (or 57 for those born after 6th April 1973) with up to 25% of the fund currently payable tax-free.
The remainder can then be drawn as pension income, with no minimum or maximum restriction.
Why SSAS Solutions?
Unlike volume providers, SSAS Solutions operates a local and personal service. Its owners have unrivalled experience in Northern Ireland of more than 30 years between them providing bespoke SSAS advice and planning.
And as SSAS Solutions’ schemes have no outside trustee, investment decisions can be made and implemented much more quickly, by the business owner, reducing transaction times and ultimately costs.