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In specie transfers and contributions - what's the difference?

Published  12 February 2024
   5 min read

'In specie' is a Latin term meaning 'in the actual form'. Transferring an asset 'in specie' means to transfer the ownership of that asset from one person/company/entity to another person/company/entity in its current form, that is without the need to convert the asset to cash.

Key facts

  • In specie transfers involve a transfer of assets between two pension schemes.
  • In specie contributions involve the transfer of assets from an individual or company to a pension scheme.
  • Assets involved need to be properly valued and assessed for suitability by the receiving scheme.

What are in specie transfers and contributions?

In specie transactions can involve pension schemes in two different ways - in specie transfers and in specie contributions. This article explains the difference. Further details on in specie transfers can be found in our article.  

In specie transfers involve the transferring of assets from one pension scheme to another. These are relatively common and usually occur between different small self-administered schemes (SSASs) and/or self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs), otherwise known collectively as investment regulated pension schemes.

Of course, an investment regulated pension scheme is under no obligation to accept an in specie transfer. The trustees of a SSAS and the scheme administrator of a SIPP will review the offered asset to make sure that:

  • a proper market valuation has been made
  • it's suitable for the investment strategy of the scheme

In specie contributions are where an asset from outside of a pension scheme is transferred into a pension scheme instead of selling it and using the cash proceeds to fund the contribution. This is much less common, with very few companies willing to accept in specie assets as pension scheme contributions. Problems can arise where the value of the transferred asset doesn't match the promised contribution. This was a focus of HMRC's attention in late 2016.

Again, the trustees or the scheme administrator will need a proper market valuation of the asset and will need to assess its suitability as an asset of the scheme.

Disclaimer

The information provided is based on our current understanding of the relevant legislation and regulations and may be subject to alteration as a result of changes in legislation or practice. Also it may not reflect the options available under a specific product which may not be as wide as legislations and regulations allow.

All references to taxation are based on our understanding of current taxation law and practice and may be affected by future changes in legislation and the individual circumstances of the investor.