Why tracking your pensions is important

The chances are you’ll have had more than one job during your working life. And you may have saved into more than one pension – some of which could have been provided by your employer(s).

It’s not always easy to keep track of a pension, especially if you’ve changed jobs or moved home without letting your pension provider know. 

Tracking down lost pension plans may help to give your retirement income a boost. The sooner a lost pension is traced the better, as it could be subject to higher charges. It may also be invested in less suitable investment options - especially if your personal circumstances have changed.

Your pension isn’t going to come looking for you, so what can you do to find it?

Although your pension provider will try to trace you, searches aren’t always successful. One of the first things you can do is contact your pension provider - if you’re not sure who your provider is you can contact former employers to find out. 

Alternatively, the government’s Pension Tracing Service can help you track down lost pensions. The service won’t be able to tell you if you have a pension or its value but will be able to tell you who to check with. 

Before you start, it’s important to pull together as much information as you can about your lost pensions. This will make it easier to trace them. When you’ve gathered as much information as you can, visit the Pension Tracing Service website where you’ll complete the following steps: 

  1. Select the type of pension you’re looking for. You can search for a workplace or personal pension. You can also search for civil service, NHS, teacher or armed forces pensions.
  2. Enter your details. Once you’ve selected the type of pension you’re looking for, you’ll be asked for your employer’s name - if it’s a workplace pension. For personal pensions enter the pension provider’s name. For NHS, civil service, teaching and armed forces pensions, you’ll be given a link to contact the specific pension enquiry service directly.
  3. Make a note of the pension administrator’s contact details. Once you’ve selected the appropriate company or pension, you’ll be provided with contact details for the administrator of the pension scheme you may have paid in to.
  4. Contact your pension provider. Call or write to the provider to see if they can find your pension, and if so, how much it’s worth.  

As we know, things change as time goes on and you might find the company you used to work for has changed its name. You can use Companies House on the government’s site to find details of previous employers. 

Once you have details of all your pensions it’s a good idea to see how they compare. Pensions can vary in charges which can make a big difference in how much you could get in retirement. By this time, you may have several different pensions and it can be difficult to keep track of them all to make sure they’re performing well. Consolidating your pensions could be an option.

To consolidate or not consolidate?

If you’ve got several pensions, it could make sense to bring everything together in one place. Even if the amounts are small, it all adds up.

Having everything in one place gives you a holistic view that could make planning for your future and retirement that much easier.

Making the decision to move your pension is an important one and can be complex. Transferring isn’t right for everyone.

You’ll need to consider the type of pension you have and any valuable features or benefits which may be lost by moving it. It’s also a good idea to compare the fees and charges of your existing plan with the pension you’d like to transfer to.

The value of your pension can go down as well as up and you may get back less than has been paid in. There’s no guarantee you’ll be better off by transferring - and if you change your mind your old scheme or provider may not be inclined to accept your pension back.

We recommend that you speak to a financial adviser if you’re unsure what to do with your pension. They can assess your situation and tell you if combining your pensions is right for you. Please bear in mind that a financial adviser may charge to give advice. If you don’t have a financial adviser, we can help put you in touch with one. Call us on 0800 302 9656, Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.