Lost and found
Tracking down misplaced pensions will make it easier to plan your retirement, but moving them into a single pot could leave you better off.
These days, most of us change jobs quite often. In fact, on average, people will work for at least six different companies over a lifetime, suggesting that the traditional idea of a ‘job for life’ is a thing of the past.1 Moving from employer to employer sometimes means moving from pension scheme to pension scheme. It’s quite common for people to build up a collection of different pension pots, making it difficult to keep track.
A study by Aegon found that, of the 62% of people who have multiple pensions, more than a fifth (21%) have lost track of one or all of them. That equates to more than six million people who have misplaced some of their pension pots. Indeed, 39% of those with multiple pensions don’t know the total value of their retirement savings.2
“Today people have diverse careers, often involving multiple jobs with different companies,” says Kate Smith, Head of Pensions at Aegon. “As a result, a majority of people now have more than one pension, but it’s a concern to find that 21% of these people have lost track of some of their savings.”
“It’s very hard to plan your retirement without a full view of your savings and it’s important everyone has a clear idea of how much their pension is worth, and what their State Pension entitlement is likely to be,” says Smith.
Tracking down a lost pension can be as simple as making sure any old pension providers have a current address for you. You should write to the pension company, tell them your new address and ask for a statement. If you’re trying to track down a lost workplace pension, you could try contacting the company you used to work for.
However, you may find that your old employer doesn’t exist anymore, or you’re trying to trace an old personal pension and you don’t have any contact details.In this case, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has a pension tracing service that can help you find a lost or forgotten pension that you built up many years ago.
Under one roof
Once you have found all your different pension pots, it might be a good idea to think about consolidating them. That simply means bringing all your separate pots together, so that all your pension savings are in one place. There can be benefits to consolidation, as many older-style pensions are unlikely to offer access to the new range of pension freedoms. It could also be a good idea to consolidate if one or more pension pot has an inappropriate level of equity exposure or is languishing in a poorly performing fund.
Consolidating your pension pots can make it easier to review how your investments are performing and give you a good idea of how much income you will have in retirement. However, it will not be suitable or even available to everyone and any decision to consolidate should not be taken lightly. It is possible that you would lose valuable and sometimes guaranteed benefits if you were to transfer out of some pension schemes. This is an extremely complex area and it is essential that professional advice is taken to understand fully the benefits and risks before considering a transfer.
“With so many people losing track of a pension, it’s perhaps not surprising that 67% of people are interested in consolidation even if they have to track down a pension first,” says Smith. “However, it’s important people take time to understand the pros and cons of consolidation and are clear on whether it’s right for them. This is where professional financial advice will really add value.”
The value of a pension with St. James's Place will be directly linked to the performance of the funds you select and the value can therefore go down as well as up. You may get back less than you invested.
1 The Association of Accounting Technicians, November 2015
2 Aegon, October 2016