We have a great deal of experience in dealing with family businesses a lot of which comes because we administer the ultimate family business pension vehicle, the Small Self- Administered Pension Scheme (SSAS).
These schemes are the made to measure Family Business Pension! The family are trustees as well as members and have the facility to use the funds in the scheme to invest into the family business by way of a loan to the company (now referred to as Pension Led Funding but we still call it ‘Loan back’) or using the funds to purchase commercial property for the business. The key here is that the family has control over the investment strategy, the membership (family members only) and the level of contributions (within limits set out by HMRC).
We have been involved in a couple of recent interesting cases involving the use of the Family Business Pension:
The first was for a family business looking to reduce their debt to the bank but at the same time secure the assets owned by the family business for the current and future generations. The solution was for the company to sell its main site to the Family Business Pension, whose members are the generation currently running the business; the proceeds received by the company were then used to reduce the bank borrowing. The asset remains in the control of the family as trustees of the scheme and the company has achieved its goal at the same time.
The second involved the pension fund helping the family business buy a competing business out of Administration. A collection of 4 Family Business Pensions, from within the group of companies acquiring the business, purchased the business property as part of this transaction – thereby improving the scale of the business group and preserving over 100 jobs.
In our dealing with Family Business Pension Schemes we often get involved in interesting projects such as those outlined above. It is not always about the money it is often about where to have the assets (i.e. in the Company or the Pension) or sometimes it is simply about where there is access to funds and all too often in the latter case, the Pension can be the ideal solution.
I am probably preaching to the converted in many cases but please feel free to pass the word on to other family businesses that could benefit from a bespoke, made to measure pension scheme or who simply have a scheme, but are not receiving any proactive advice on what they can do.