Pension plan eases expat payout

Administrators for one of Cayman’s prominent pension plans said last week that they’re trying to make it easier for foreign participants in the retirement system to get their money when they leave the Islands.

Right now, non-Caymanian workers who participate in government-mandated pension schemes can receive payouts after they have ceased residing in the Islands for two years.

Workers are generally given a choice of either taking the cash, or rolling their savings into another pension fund.

However, Saxon Administration CEO Brian Williams, one of the agents for Silver Thatch Pensions, told a meeting of pension plan participants last week that the company was attempting to make the process of obtaining payouts less of a hassle.

‘We’re trying to change the cessation of residency requirements,’ Mr. Williams said.

Under the current arrangement, the Immigration Department requires a notarised signature on a document confirming residency in a new jurisdiction, as well as a utility bill or other secondary proof of residence.

Mr. Williams said negotiations are under way to allow pension plan administrators to talk directly with immigration officials on behalf of their clients. He said the two sides are trying to agree on a simple form letter that could be sent notifying immigration that a foreign worker had ceased residing in Cayman.

‘It’s going to be easier for those who leave the jurisdiction and want to get their funds,’ he said.

Requests for payouts from the Silver Thatch pension funds have increased this year.

Between 1 July 2008 and 30 June, 2009, $9.2 million was paid to fund participants – either foreign workers who had stopped living in Cayman, or Caymanians who had reached retirement.

Last year, the company made $8.5 million in payouts.

Payouts to foreign workers may increase in the next two years as well.

Statistics from the Immigration Department showed that there were 2,000 fewer work permit holders resident in Cayman this summer than there were in June 2008. A report from the Economics and Statistics Office indicated that economic difficulties over the past year had forced companies to reduce staff.

The construction and retail industries were the two occupations that saw the greatest reduction in work permit numbers, according to the statistics office mid-year report.