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REVIEW SUMMARY

STM Group

STM Group was established in 1989 and was listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange in 2007.

STM Group is international with a spread of offices located around Europe, in London, Jersey, Gibraltar, Malta, Spain and a registered office in the Isle of Man.

STM Group's aim, as stated by them, is to deliver clear, innovative, impartial financial and commercial solutions to cross-border investors, entrepreneurs and international professionals.

These solutions include international retirement, life assurance, workplace pensions, annuities, international tax, trust and trustee services.

Overview
FAQ
Customer Reviews
Expert Verdict

STM provide pension solutions to UK clients and to those that are internationally mobile. 

They provide pension transfer solutions for both EU and non-EU residents alike, while trying to make the most of over 70 double-taxation agreements Malta has in place with other countries.

STM Group has three main pensions jurisdictions:

  1. United Kingdom
  2. Malta
  3. Gibraltar

They claim to have 100+ highly skilled people under their employment (we would recommend reading the expert verdict section of this review).

A few facts about STM Group's retirement services, as stated on their website, are as follows:

  • They have administered around 15,500 retirement plans (a combined number from their UK, Gibraltar and Malta offices).
  • STM's clients come from 126 different countries.
  • They claim to have 80 documents outlining their offerings to clients.

NOTE: We would recommend reading the expert verdict section of this review before making a decision.


The international retirement solutions offered by STM Group include:

  • SIPPs (offered by the London and Colonial part of STM Group PLC)
  • QROPS
  • QNUPS (available to both UK and non-UK residents)
  • Packaged QROPS products utilising their in-house life assurance global company (STM Life)
  • US expat plans
  • Occupational pension schemes within Gibraltar

Their international pensions services are delivered through subsidiary companies in the three locations mentioned above.

Here's a brief look at each of them and exactly what they provide: 

1. Options (part of STM Group in the UK):

Options is an independent administration and trustee company providing pension services and products to the UK market.

Their offering includes SIPP, sharia SIPP, SSAS, property, workplace pensions, trustees and other group SIPPs and personal pension plans.

You can learn more in the documents section of this review.

2. STM FIDECS Group of Companies (part of STM Group in Gibraltar):

STM operates principally from Gibraltar. 

Their international pension services include:

  • QROPS and QNUPS
  • Packaged QROPS products utilising their in-house life assurance company (STM Life)
  • QNUPS – available to UK or non-UK residents
  • Occupational Pension Schemes within Gibraltar

3. STM Malta Pension Services Limited (part of STM Group in Malta):

STM provide pension solutions to companies and individuals resident in Malta and to internationally-mobile individuals through STM Malta Pension Services Limited.

Their range of international pension services in Malta includes:

  •  QROPS and QNUPS
  • Packaged QROPS products utilising their in-house life assurance company (STM Life)
  • QNUPS – available to UK or non-UK residents
  • EURBS – available in other EU countries
  • US QROPS for those resident in the United States
  • US expat plan
  • Occupational Pension Schemes within Malta

NOTE: STM Group was suspended from AIM in 2017. However, they have been reinstated since. We would recommend reading the expert verdict section of this review to learn why our team of experts gave them 2.5 out of 5 stars in this independent review.

 

The Pros

> Offers some tax protection in certain jurisdictions
> Available through offshore advisers

The Cons

> Suspended from AIM in 2017
> Many countries do not recognise tax concessions
> QROPS is a complex area and requires full financial advice
> Costs are largely dictated by the charging structure chosen by an adviser
> Transfers out of STM are at the discretion of the trustees (we find that they refuse to move clients out of Gib QROPS)
> If sold through commission-based advisers they are expensive, and even part withdrawals can increase real costs
> No flexibility of full withdrawal or full access in the early years without penalty (exit penalties within the first few years of establishment, depending on the scheme)
What benefits does the Malta jurisdiction offer?
  • Malta is situated at the strategic heart of the Mediterranean within easy reach of Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

  • It is an independent republic, a full member of the Commonwealth and the European Union, including the Eurozone, and has its own combined civil and common law-based system while also being subject to all EU Directives.

  • Malta is internationally recognised as a jurisdiction providing excellence in financial services.

  • It offers an attractive cost and tax-efficient base for clients looking for an EU-compliant, yet flexible, domicile.

  • It has its own efficient taxation regime and enjoys an extensive network of double-taxation agreements with more than seventy countries from Australia to the USA.
What workplace pensions services does STM offer?

STM Group offers workplace pensions through it's UK company called Options.

  • Regardless of how big your company is, or how many people you employ, the Options Workplace Pension is a UK registered pension scheme that is open to all employers.

  • It meets the Qualifying Workplace Pension requirements of Auto-enrolment.

  • The Options Workplace Pension is technically defined as a ‘master trust occupational defined contribution scheme’ and fully qualifies as a workplace pension scheme as defined by The Pensions Regulator.

  • STM's Master Trust received Authorisation from the Pensions Regulator in 2019.

  • STM uses external trustees.

  • Their Workplace Pension also has a Shariah compliant section to meet Muslim faith requirements with ethical Halal funds as the default from our partnership with Wahed Invest.

My pension was compromised by bad advice

I now know I was badly advised to transfer my pension - the adviser who directed me made significant commission from the transfer, something that was not - in my opinion - made explicit.

As a result my pension's growth and strength has been compromised.

Expert assessment of STM Group

A drawback of STM is that they require clients to hold 7% in the trustee bank account (at all times, it cannot drop below), in addition to any excess that we may hold within the investment platform/bond.

This means clients are looking at 10-12% of their money uninvested.

There also remains a danger that the subsequent financial and investment advice associated with an STM QROPS transfer may lead to unsatisfactory outcomes, because of its widespread use and popularity with commission-based, financially incentivised salespeople.

Read the UK regulator's advice on pension transfers.

Never deal with a firm that isn’t authorised as a UK pension transfer specialist.

Our advice would be to seek professional, fee-based and independent advice if you have an existing STM QROPS.

For pensions worth £250,000 or more, we recommend contacting us for a Second Opinion.

STM Group - Malta Terms and Conditions

STM Group - FIDECS Statement of Investment Principles

STM Group - FIDECS Gibraltar Terms and Conditions

STM Group - Malta Pensions Services Complaints Procedure

STM Group - Options SIPP Terms and Conditions

STM Group - Options SIPP Fee Schedule

STM Group - Options Workplace Pensions Explained

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