Lost a pension? Here’s how to find it and boost your retirement

lost wallet lying on the ground

If you’ve ever lost your car keys, or mislaid your TV remote, you’re far from alone. Indeed, research from insurer Direct Line has revealed that Brits spend a staggering 110 days of their lives looking for lost objects.

The UK population collectively misplace around 7.9 billion items each year, while permanently lost items cost an average of £78 each, every year.

While it might be easy to replace an umbrella or a jacket you left on the train, losing track of your financial “belongings” can have a more serious and long-lasting impact.

New research reported by Pensions Expert shows that 88% of people with a workplace pension have at least one that remains unclaimed – amounting to an average of £28,000 per person.

With National Pension Tracing Day taking place on 29 October, now is the perfect time to establish whether you have mislaid a pot, and to track it down.

Could some of the £26.6 billion in lost pensions belong to you?

Over the course of your life, you’re likely to change jobs or move home multiple times. This could mean you end up paying to multiple workplace pensions during your career – and you may also make your own arrangements if you ever have a period where you work for yourself.

Consequently, it can be easy to lose track of older funds, particularly if you only paid into them for a short period of time.

Data from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) shows that:

  • Between 2018 and 2022, the value of lost pension pots in the UK increased by 37% to reach a total of £26.6 billion.
  • More than 2.8 million pension pots are “lost” an increase of 75% between 2918 and 2022.

There are many reasons that you may have lost track of an old pension fund. If you’ve changed address and failed to inform the provider, they may not be able to find you. In addition, the provider of an older fund may have merged or been taken over by another financial institution, and you may not have acknowledged the paperwork as you didn’t recognise the sender.

Tracking down an old pension fund could give your retirement plan a real boost.

Even if you only paid into a scheme for a short period, if it was many years or decades ago the compound growth on your contributions could be significant.

Remember also that your fund is made up of your contributions, any employer contributions, tax relief, and investment returns. So, even if you were only paying in a small amount, these other factors could mean your fund is worth significantly more than you expect.

If you do think you may have misplaced a pension, there are three steps you can follow to track it down.

Step 1 – Sort through your own paperwork

Your first step should be to sort through any old paperwork you have and track down details of your pension.

Your provider should send you an annual statement, so search your files to see if you have any details. If you’ve paid into a personal pension, look through your bank statements for details of payments to a pension provider.

If you can’t find any details of your old pensions, it’s time to…

Step 2 – Contact your old employers

Get in touch with the HR department at your old employers and ask them to provide you with details of the pension provider. You may need to provide rough dates of employment and your National Insurance (NI) number.

A good place is start is to go through your CV if you want to make sure you’ve contacted all your previous employers.

Your former employers should be able to let you know who your pension is with. You can then contact the provider to track down your fund. You may need to provide your NI number, your employment details, and previous addresses, so the provider can match you with the pot.

Step 3 – Use the Pension Tracing Service

If you’ve been unable to track down your misplaced fund(s) using the above steps, the government Pension Tracing Service could help.

This online service can help you to find contact details to search for a lost pension – either your own workplace or personal pension scheme.

While this service will not tell you whether you have a pension, or what its value is, it can provide you with details of the organisation to contact to become reunited with your fund.

Get in touch

If you’d like to have a chat about how your various pensions can work together to provide you with the retirement lifestyle you want, please get in touch.

Email or call us on 01454 416653.

Please note

This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

A pension is a long-term investment not normally accessible until 55 (57 from April 2028). The fund value may fluctuate and can go down, which would have an impact on the level of pension benefits available. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.

The tax implications of pension withdrawals will be based on your individual circumstances. Thresholds, percentage rates and tax legislation may change in subsequent Finance Acts.

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