Millions of people have lost pensions – could you be one of them?

Millions of people have lost pensions – could you be one of them?

A steady rise in job mobility, particularly over the last couple of decades, has meant that as people have left jobs, they have also left behind previous workplace pensions.

According to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), an estimated £400 million is languishing in unclaimed retirement savings. And thousands of workers are losing out on cash from countless forgotten pension funds.

If these figures aren’t already scary enough, the Association of British Insurers estimates that there could be as many as 1.6 million forgotten pension pots in the UK, with a total value of £19.4 billion.

Now that the idea of a job for life is over, some studies suggest that, on average, workers will have 11 different jobs during their working life. And with 10 million people auto enrolled in workplace pensions, this problem can only get worse.

Top three reasons pensions go unclaimed

Research reveals that the three main reasons pensions end up left unclaimed are:

  1. Moving home – failing to update address details with your pension provider
  2. Changing jobs – being enrolled in a new company pension scheme with a different provider and forgetting about the previous pension(s) you had
  3. Opting out of the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS) – which many people did in the 80s and 90s, by setting up a private pension scheme.

If you think you may have a pension fund you have left unclaimed, finding it could make a real difference to your retirement income when you stop work. And the sooner you find any lost pension funds the better, as you can make sure the money is well invested and continues to work as hard as you are until you decide to retire.

Here’s what to do it if you think you may have an unclaimed pension fund.

How to find lost pensions

If you know the name of your previous employer or pension provider, use the government’s Pension Tracing Service to find your lost pension.

The government website can help you find contact details for:

  • Workplace or personal pension schemes
  • Someone else’s pension scheme if you have permission.

Run by the DWP since 2016, this free service helps you track down your lost pension savings by searching a database of more than 320,000 pension schemes.

Although the service is limited in the detail it will provide, it can be a useful starting point.

Find out what your reclaimed pension is worth

Once you have rediscovered your lost pension, find out what it’s worth and how much income it might generate when you retire.

If your pension pot has been sitting without contributions in poor performing investment funds for many years, your retirement savings may work better for you elsewhere. Likewise, if you find you have multiple different pensions with various providers, you may want to simplify your retirement savings by consolidating all your pensions into one.

This is easy to do if your pension is a defined contribution scheme. Defined contribution pensions are the most common scheme and how much you get at retirement will depend on how the pension fund has performed.

We can help you make an informed decision about how to make the best of all your pension savings to date.

Talk to us before you make any decisions, as you could face exit penalties and transfer fees that may make transferring more expensive than you bargained for. You may also lose valuable guarantees offered by existing schemes.

It’s important to get expert financial advice before transferring any pension plan. Many providers actively insist that you go through a financial planner.

As well as complying with pension rules, another excellent reason for seeking expert help is that we can help make the laborious and complicated job a lot easier.

Get in touch

If you would like to discuss what you can do to make sure your retirement savings are working as hard as you are or have a general question about your financial situation or investing, please contact us on 0800 434 6337.