‘My business is my pension.’ Many entrepreneurs believe that their retirement is sorted by virtue of them owning a successful business. However, this is only partly true: corporate wealth does not become personal wealth until it is extracted from the money the business is generating. If the wealth is held by the company, you need to create a mechanism to transfer it to your own name.
Some will achieve this by selling their business and realising a capital gain. Others will draw salary, bonuses, directors’ fees or take dividends. However, from a tax point of view, perhaps the most efficient way of moving money from business to personal is through a pension.
That’s because a pension is not just a long-term savings product to fund a retirement, it is a sophisticated investment holdings structure for growing personal wealth. The real opportunity for business owners lies in using this tool to transfer profits to seed a personal investment account that enjoys tax-free growth.
There is no other tax-based incentive in Ireland that allows a company to shelter up to €2 million of corporate assets in a ring fenced investment account in the proprietary director’s own name, and certainly none that permits €200,000 of this to be taken tax free at retirement plus a further €300,000 at a 20% tax rate. Only pensions do that. The reliefs are staggering.
But tax relief is only part of the attraction. How the money is managed is at the discretion of the business owner, so they can really make an impact to personal wealth over time. While typical company schemes direct funds into cookie cutter asset allocations, owner directors can create bespoke portfolios and investment solutions that match their needs in a much more personalised way. The opportunity to direct investment growth and create wealth in this way is sizeable. Further, this benefit offers an important way for owners to diversify their wealth away from the business and into assets and income streams that mitigate risk away from their principal business sector.
Short of an eventual sale or other significant value realization event, pensions are the most reliable way to build wealth from business ownership.