What to do if you’ve ‘lost’ a pension

June 21, 2021

When we move home, there’s a huge list of tasks to do and providers to contact. So, it’s not surprising that telling pension providers about a new address slips the mind of many, but it means billions of pension savings have been ‘lost’.

A typical pension will move house eight times in their life, making it easy to lose touch with pensions if you forget to notify a provider. Add this to the fact that employees are more likely to swap jobs than they were previously, potentially meaning multiple pensions, and pension savings can quickly become complicated meaning some savings will slip through the cracks.

Research by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) indicates that there are around 1.6 million of pension pots worth £19.4 billion unclaimed. It’s a staggering amount that could have a huge impact on retirement plans. The average ‘lost’ pension is worth nearly £13,000. Whilst this may not be a life-changing sum, it can certainly help you achieve retirement goals and could provide more flexibility.

One of the reasons people are losing touch with pension savings is not telling providers when they move home. During what can be a stressful and busy time, people focus on contacting the provider that they rely on day-to-day. Unsurprisingly, telling their bank or utility providers is high on the priority list of home movers. In contrast, just one in 25 think about telling their pension provider about their new address. Even when prompted, just half of people would move contacting their pension provider to their priority list.

Losing pensions is an issue that’s expected to get worse too. The government previously predicted that by 2050, there could be as many as 50 million lost pensions. This is due to the average number of jobs a person holds rising and auto-enrolment meaning the vast majority of employees will now benefit from a Workplace Pension.

Finding your ‘lost’ pension

If you’ve lost touch with a pension, your first step should be to look through your paperwork. Policy documents and statements will provide contact details, allowing you to update your personal details. If you know who your pension provider is, you can also head to their website or log in to your online account.

If you know you have a pension but aren’t sure of the provider or it’s been acquired by another provider, you can use the government’s Pension Tracing Service here. This won’t confirm if you have a pension or tell you what its value is, but offers contact details for workplace and personal pension schemes, allowing you to get in touch.

What are your options once you’ve contacted a pension provider?

Once you’ve contacted a pension provider, you still need to decide what to do with your savings. You essentially have three options:

Leave the pension savings as they are: You don’t have to decide to do anything with your pension. You can leave your savings as they are, waiting until you need them in retirement. If this is the case, make sure you note down the details of your pension provider, keep track of the value of your pension, and that you notify the provider of any future change of address.

Make additional contributions to the pension: Once you’ve found a ‘lost’ pension, you can add to it, whether through a one-off lump sum or ongoing contributions. It can be an effective way to boost retirement savings and you’ll still benefit from tax relief, assuming you stay within the limits of the Annual and Lifetime Allowance. However, if you have a pension with an existing employer, it’s worth checking if they’d increase their own contributions alongside yours, maximising savings.

Consolidate your pension pots: Consolidating pensions can make it easier to keep track of savings and minimise admin when changes do occur. However, it’s important to understand if pensions have additional benefits, how they’re performing, the costs associated with consolidation and note that there are sometimes benefits to taking smaller pots first. In some cases, keeping separate pensions makes more sense, depending on the providers and your goals.

Keeping track of pension savings is just a small part of retirement planning. Understanding how pensions, and other assets, can combine to create an income in retirement can be difficult. Please contact us to discuss your retirement plans.

Please note: 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. Your pension income could also be affected by the interest rates at the time you take your benefits.

The tax implications of pension withdrawals will be based on your individual circumstances, tax legislation and regulation which are subject to change in the future.

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate Workplace Pensions.

What our clients say

The people we help are at the heart of what we do. Here are some of their testimonials.

I knew I needed to begin saving and planning for the future but didn’t know where to start. Stratton helped me to understand my finances and put together a savings plan that is affordable and works for me. I now have and an ISA and a pension, and whilst retirement is many years away, I have the peace of mind that I am saving for my future. I look forward to working with them for many years to come.

Martin Corrigan -

A client since 2016

I have been impressed with the advice and service provided by Stratton Wealth Management and have always found Darius to be approachable, dependable and highly professional in his approach. It is reassuring to be able to have such a high level of confidence and trust when it comes to financial advice.

Russell Jones -

A client since 2018

Many thanks indeed for your in depth report for my client Mrs H – it is most thorough and above all readable. This might sound particularly strange; however you may well gather that in my profession we see many such reports, and I often feel that if the adviser fills it with charts and graphs it evidences a level of research. In truth most of what is produced is readily obtainable from the internet.

I would like to thank you (and your organisation) for your prompt and professional attention to my requirements on behalf of my client. As a practice we shall definitely be putting Stratton Wealth Management on our “preferred supplier list".

Colin Dunstall, Donaldson Dunstall Solicitors -

A client since 2015

I would highly recommend Darius and John. I’ve used a financial adviser previously and could never get in contact with them when I needed their help. Stratton Wealth Management have been excellent from the start. They are always available to talk, and they also don’t talk in financial jargon!

Dave Rigby -

A client since 2015

Having recently transferred my financial management to Stratton Wealth Management, I have been extremely impressed with the highly professional service I have received. I feel I have been fully involved in all decision making, and the company's highly skilled advisers have shown commitment and patience in any dealings I have had with them. I have also always found them to be easily accessible for any discussion I may require.

Denise Thornton -

A client since 2019

As a business owner and father of four children, finances are usually the last thing we think about. Stratton oversees and manages our finances, both in terms of advice for my business and our personal investments. It is comforting to know that our retirement, investment and life insurance planning has been taken care of. Darius and John are always so efficient in dealing with our affairs. As someone with no real understanding of the ins and outs, it has been fantastic to have experts giving us great advice and making sure our best interests are always the top priority.

Lee and Claire Parkinson -

Clients since 2016

Darius deals with my family’s finances and is a very trusted adviser. We meet a number of times a year, but I know I can call him any time if I have any questions. He is proactive, helpful and friendly!

Jonathan Dennis -

A client since 2019

Darius has been our adviser for a number of years, and when he told us he was starting his own firm, we had no hesitation in moving with him. We had a number of areas that we needed help with, including the complexities around an employee share scheme, investments for us and our new child, in addition to our retirement planning. Darius has continually provided us with a first-rate level of service and we would highly recommend Stratton.

Eamon and Holly O’Hara -

Clients since 2017

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