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£19.4 billion in lost pensions – could some of it be yours?

If you’ve moved jobs or changed address, you might have a lost pension waiting to be found. Here’s how to track yours down.

Important notes

This article isn’t personal advice. If you’re not sure whether an investment is right for you please seek advice. If you choose to invest the value of your investment will rise and fall, so you could get back less than you put in.

Around 1.6 million pensions worth £19.4 billion have been left unclaimed in the UK. That’s an average of £13,000 each. It just goes to show that losing sight of old pensions is all too easy, if you’re not careful.

In fact, losing a pension is so common that the industry launched the UK’s first National Pension Tracing day on 31 October. Senior Pensions and Retirement Analyst, Helen Morrissey, welcomes this new national day.

“National Pension Tracing Day aims to raise awareness of this issue and we would urge people to take some time to track down any lost pensions – it could make a big difference to the income you receive in retirement.”

If you didn’t join the Great Pension Treasure Hunt on Sunday, don’t worry. Lost pensions can only be claimed by their rightful owners. To help you track down any lost pensions and make sure you don’t lose any in future, here are some essential tools and tips.

This article isn’t personal advice. If you’re not sure what’s right for your circumstances, ask for financial advice. Remember, you can’t usually access the money in your pension until you’re 55 (57 from 2028).

Why are there so many lost pensions?

Two of the main reasons people lose pensions are changing jobs and moving address. And when you consider that we have 11 jobs in a lifetime and move house eight times on average, it’s no surprise we sometimes forget to pack our pensions.

You might think it’s your employer’s responsibility to make sure your personal details are kept up to date with your pension provider, but it isn’t.

Employers are responsible for there being a pension scheme available, making sure you know who the pension provider is at the time, and paying in the right contributions under pension rules. Everything else is up to you. That includes making your pension provider aware of any address or name changes throughout your life (regardless of who your employer is). But also continuing to regularly review how much you’re saving and where you’re invested.

The value of investments can fall as well as rise so you may not get back what you invest.

How to track down lost pensions

Search for old paperwork

Nobody likes looking through paperwork. But a bit of unpaid effort now could be worth thousands at retirement. Look out for old pension papers and details. Your pension provider could be referred to as a ‘pension scheme administrator’ on any formal paperwork.

Retrace your steps

You’ll need to take a trip down memory lane. Cast your mind back to your first job. If you have a vague recollection of pension deductions coming out of your pay, you could have a pot of money waiting to be claimed.

Gather together as much information as you can about your previous jobs, including the name and contact details of your past employers. If your employer has changed name or contact details since you left, you can try searching on Companies House to track down their new details.

Reach out to old employers

Directly ask your old employer for more information about the pension scheme they offered at the time of your employment, including the provider’s details. You can then ask the pension provider to check if you were a member of the scheme, and what your pension value is.

Ask for help

If you don’t have any luck, you can ask the government’s Pension Tracing service. They can help you find contact details for any private or workplace pensions.

TRY THE PENSION TRACING SERVICE

How to avoid losing your pension

1. Review your accounts regularly

To avoid losing your pension, give yourself time to go through your pension statements at least once a year. This is a good way to keep track of what you have. But also a useful time to review things like how your investments are doing, and whether you’re on track to reach the level of income you might want or need in retirement.

How much retirement income do I need?

2. Consider consolidating pension pots

Lots of us have more than one pension – regardless of how old we are.

In fact, according to our recent survey*, younger workers are likely to have multiple pension pots. Nearly half of those aged 24 and under with a pension already have more than one pot, and one in three have three or more. In comparison, only one in five people aged between 55-64 with a pension have three or more pots.

It can be difficult to manage multiple pensions. Finding the time to juggle different providers can be a stretch. It’s much easier to keep on top of things if you don’t have lots of pensions in different places. Look through what you have and consider consolidating them with one provider.

Before consolidating, it’s important to compare the service and fees of your current and future provider. Be sure to check for any high exit fees first and that you won’t lose any valuable benefits or guarantees by transferring.

Bring your old pensions together in the award-winning HL SIPP

The HL Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) is designed for people who want to take control of their retirement savings.

  • Invest where and how you want to – you can pick your own investments, select one of our ready-made portfolios, or pay a financial adviser to choose investments for you.
  • Support on hand when you need it – get ongoing support from the client support experts on our Bristol-based helpdesk.
  • Peace of mind that your investments are safe – we're a financially secure FTSE 100 company, trusted by over 1.5 million clients and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
  • Great value for money – free research, the latest investment news, tools and insights from our team of experts.

More about the HL SIPP including charges

*HL survey conducted by Opinium, September 2021, 2039 respondents

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Important notes

This article isn’t personal advice. If you’re not sure whether an investment is right for you please seek advice. If you choose to invest the value of your investment will rise and fall, so you could get back less than you put in.

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