Whether you’re planning for the future, eager to retire early, or keen to improve your current retirement lifestyle, tracking down old pensions could reap significant rewards.
Sunday 29 October is National Pension Tracing Day, so it’s the perfect time to look into your finances and discover if one of an estimated 2.8 million lost pensions belongs to you.
Read on to learn how finding old pensions could benefit you and discover three practical steps for locating pensions you’ve lost track of.
If you’ve moved jobs or homes, there’s a good chance you have “lost” pension pots
What are the chances that you have funds in an old pension that you know nothing about?
It’s surprisingly easy to “lose” a pension. You probably won’t remain in the same home, job or relationship throughout your life and such changes can lead to unclaimed funds.
Perhaps you’ve been contacted by a pension provider and discarded the communication as a scam? Or maybe you moved to a new house and failed to inform your pension providers?
Keeping track of pensions amid so many major life changes and events can be tricky.
Why you should trace your lost pension in 2023
In the current economic climate, many people are struggling financially and concerned about their futures. If you’re already enjoying retirement, your pension probably isn’t stretching as far as it used to.
By paying attention to your pension and planning for the future now, you could retire earlier, reduce the risk of a pension shortfall and enjoy a more comfortable retirement.
According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), there is an estimated £26.6 billion in lost pensions in the UK and the average unclaimed pot is worth £9,470.
So, if you’ve paid into a pension, it’s well worth checking you’re not missing out.
Once you’ve tracked down old or lost pensions, there is the option of consolidating them into one pot.
This can make it easier and more cost-effective to manage your savings. For example, by ditching pensions with high charges and poor investment performance you could focus on those that deliver a healthier return.
However, you may lose existing benefits (such as guaranteed annuity rates) from older pensions, or they may be performing well and have low charges. Additionally, if you have a defined benefit or “final salary” pension, you might lose key benefits and incur additional risk by consolidating.
So, it’s always worth carefully considering whether consolidation is right for you.
Whatever your circumstances, knowing where all your pensions are puts you firmly in control of such decisions.
3 practical tips for finding your lost pensions
If you think there may be a missing pension with your name on it, there are three practical ways to track it down.
1. Contact previous pension providers
The easiest way to track down missing pensions is to contact all your previous pension providers and ask for help with finding old accounts.
Pension companies usually send out annual benefit statements to anyone who contributes to their schemes, so check old files and emails for details.
Before making contact, gather any relevant information such as personal reference numbers, the date your plan started and your National Insurance number.
If you don’t know who you previously held pension plans with, this may not be possible. Even if you manage to track down all your pension paperwork and create a list of former pension plans, this step will not be straightforward if the name of your scheme has changed, companies have merged or been rebranded.
2. Contact previous employers
An alternative is to contact previous employers and request the details of any pension schemes you paid into.
You will probably be asked to provide your National Insurance number and dates of employment.
Armed with the details your employer provides, contact the pension provider directly to recover any lost accounts.
MoneyHelper has created some free template letters that you can use to contact pension providers and employers about lost pensions.
3. Use the government tracing service
If you fail to get the information you need from former pension providers and employers, the government’s free Pension Tracing Service could help you track down old pension savings.
Information such as the names of previous employers, the type of business, and when you contributed to the schemes will help you navigate the online system.
This service cannot provide details of your pension accounts, such as how much they are worth, but it can provide you with the contact details for any companies you have had pension plans with.
Speak to us
If you’re still struggling to get a clear picture of your pension entitlements, please get in touch by email at email@example.com or by calling 0117 9303510.
We offer independent financial advice that could help you make more well-informed decisions about your pensions.
This article is no substitute for financial advice and should not be treated as such. To determine the best course of action for your individual circumstances, please contact us.
A pension is a long-term investment not normally accessible until 55 (57 from April 2028). The fund value may fluctuate and can go down, which would have an impact on the level of pension benefits available. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.
The tax implications of pension withdrawals will be based on your individual circumstances. Thresholds, percentage rates and tax legislation may change in subsequent Finance Acts.