On average, we will work for between 6 – 12 different employers during our lifetimes. But as we make our way up the career ladder, it is all too easy to leave some valuable assets on the lower rungs.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has estimated that there are around 1.6 million pension pots together worth a staggering total of £19.4bn currently unclaimed. This means that there could be thousands of pounds of your money – an average of nearly £13,000 per pension pot – waiting for you.
At Continuum we are looking at how you can find your missing pensions.
Do you think you might have a pension from an old job?
The introduction of auto-enrolment, in which eligible employees are automatically enrolled into a company’s scheme, means many more people are now likely to end up having forgotten pension pots, and the more pensions you have, the easier it is to end up losing track of some. The pension providers from previous employers will try to send out statements, but when we move home, we may forget to update them with our new address – and those smaller pension sums can soon be forgotten altogether.
But the good news is that although they may be forgotten they are not lost – and you can easily find any lost pensions with your National Insurance number.
If you think you might have pension funds with a previous employer, the first step is to get in touch with them.
You’ll need to give them the details of when you were employed and your NI number, and your chances of success can be improved if you can tell them more. Your full name and any previous names, your date of birth and your address at the time you were employed could all make things simpler.
They should be able to tell you if you had a pension with the business, the name of your pension provider and policy number.
What about SERPS?
The State Earnings-Related Pension Scheme was designed to top up the State Pension. It existed from 1978 to 2002, when it was replaced by the State Second Pension. Millions of people in occupational pension schemes chose to opt out of SERPS during the 1980s and 1990s. This was known as “contracting out” and redirected their national insurance contributions into a personal pension.
If you were employed in the private sector between 1987 and 2012, and you think there’s a chance you might have a missing SERPS pension, it’s well worth checking with HMRC.
Writing to HMRC with your NI number and other personal details will allow them to check if you have a SERPS provision.
What to do next
Once you track down your pension provider, they should be able to tell you how much your lost pension is currently worth, how it is performing and what pension options you have.
You then need to decide what to do with your newly rediscovered wealth. You may be getting a poor deal from these older pensions, especially as you will be paying multiple management charges on them. You may want to consolidate your pension pots, making them easier to keep an eye on in future. But your pension is too important to leave to chance, and you need to get some expert help to understand the possibilities.
The help you need from Continuum
At Continuum we can do more than simply help you find your lost pensions. We can help you to make the most of them. We can help you look at your existing arrangements, and ensure that they are working at their best for your future, and help find ways to make your existing pension savings work harder.
Finding lost pensions could be just one aspect of a full pension review that leaves you a great deal better off – and your prospects for the future a great deal brighter. Call us today on 0345 643 0770.
The information contained in this article is based on the opinion of Continuum and does not constitute financial advice or a recommendation to suitable retirement strategy, you should seek independent financial advice before embarking on any course of action.
A pension is a long term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down, which would have an impact on the level of pension benefits available. Pension income could also be affected by interest rates at the time benefits are taken.