Pension Tracing – Billions in Lost Pension Pots Await Claiming

A staggering £20 billion in pension funds remain unclaimed, lying forgotten or lost in the maze of employment changes and residential moves. This astonishing figure has come to light amidst growing concerns over the ease with which individuals can lose track of their pension savings, especially following the introduction of auto-enrolment, which has significantly increased the likelihood of accumulating multiple small pension pots across different employments.

The Vast Expanse of Forgotten Wealth

A recent study by Mintago, a pension tracing firm, has cast a spotlight on the sheer scale of the issue, estimating that a vast sum of £20 billion in pension cash is currently unclaimed. This estimate is based on an analysis of 1,500 searches on its platform, revealing that a staggering 78% of people have at least one lost pension pot with an employer or former employer. The research further disclosed that, on average, an individual might have 2.5 missing pensions, each with an average value of £9,500, summing up to a potential find of approximately £24,000 for a typical searcher.

The Ease of Losing Track

Losing sight of pension pots has become alarmingly common, with many unaware of their existence, particularly those valued at £5,000 or less. Aegon’s research indicates that nearly 15% of individuals are uncertain if they possess any such savings. The reasons behind this widespread unawareness stem from frequent relocations and job changes throughout one’s career, making it exceedingly challenging to maintain a comprehensive record of all pension schemes.

For those who fear they might have lost touch with their pension plans, hope is not lost. Experts advise a systematic approach to updating contact details with all financial institutions post-relocation, utilising services like the Royal Mail’s redirect service to ensure no correspondence is missed.

Moreover, the reasons cited for losing pensions—ranging from a lack of sustained interest, misplaced paperwork, to failure in notifying providers of address changes—highlight the need for vigilance and proactive management of one’s pension portfolios.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Pension Recovery

Start With What You Have

Begin your search by sifting through any old paperwork for details about your pension schemes. Annual statements from pension providers are invaluable in this quest, offering insights into the current balance and future projections of your pension.

Reach Out to Pension Providers

In the absence of paperwork, if you recall the company managing your pension, contacting them directly could yield results. Providing as much information as possible, including plan numbers and setup dates, can significantly enhance the chances of locating your old accounts.

Leverage Government Assistance

The Government’s Pension Tracing Service is a crucial resource for those at a loss about where to start. Housing details of over 300,000 pension schemes, a simple enquiry with the name of a past employer can unearth links to forgotten pension pots.

Contact Previous Employers

Should the Pension Tracing Service yield no leads, directly approaching previous employers with your employment dates and National Insurance number could help in tracking down any pensions associated with past jobs.