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Tracking down lost pension pots

Britons’ careers are now more dynamic than ever, with the average person expected to have 12 jobs in their lifetime.

It’s no wonder, therefore, that most people will accumulate several pension pots, both personal and workplace – and that we will lose track of some of them over the years.

Indeed, it’s currently estimated that over 2.8 million pensions have been lost across the UK, with a combined value of £26.6 billion.

Tracking down lost or unclaimed pensions is a great way to give your pension pot a welcome boost and support you in achieving your retirement savings goals. So, how do you do it?

The steps to track down lost pension pots

If you know your pension provider, your first course of action should be to contact them directly. They should help you trace your pension and offer insights into its current performance and value.

If you do not know your provider, your next point of contact should be your former employer. Ask them to help in tracking down workplace pensions arranged during your employment by providing the following details about your employment and pension provider.

  • Employer details: Provide the name of the employer you worked for. Note that company names may have changed, or the business may have been taken over.
  • Employment dates: Specify the date you started employment with the employer and the date you ceased working for them.
  • Pension scheme name
  • Pension scheme enrolment dates: Include the dates when you joined and left the pension scheme associated with your employment.

Should you encounter difficulty in retrieving information from either the provider or employer, try the Government’s Pension Tracing Service. This free online tool can help find contact details to search for a lost pension.

In the coming years, the Government’s long-awaited pension dashboard – due to launch on 31st October 2026 – should make the process of keeping track of pension pots easier. In short, the pensions dashboard will allow people to access all their pensions information online, securely and all in one place.

What next?

Once you’ve successfully tracked down any lost pensions, what you do next is entirely up to you – but it’s important to understand the risk of not acting. 

Long-forgotten plans could result in expensive, poorly performing funds which could prevent you from achieving your retirement objectives.

Under certain circumstances, pension transfers could be a good option to address the potential issue of inactivity. For example, transferring multiple pensions to one fund could reduce the charges on your scheme or to access different investment options. But be warned, some older pensions can contain ‘exit penalties’, which could cancel out the benefit of transferring to a new provider.

Consolidating all your retirement savings in one place can be useful strategy as it can make everything much simpler to manage. That said, convenience should not be the key driver when it comes to pension transfers. Whilst useful in the short term, convenience may be appealing, it is vital to understand how your new potential fund suits you current circumstances, as well as how it can help you to achieve your retirement objectives.

In some cases, consolidation might be the right option, in other cases it might not be. The key is to explore all options available and find the right path to retirement for you.

And before making a final decision, it’s always important to seek help from an independent financial adviser, such as the My Pension Expert team. 

Working with an independent financial advisor (IFA) will help you understand how your pensions could be better aligned with your retirement savings goals. They will then create a tailor-made plan to help you in achieving said goals.

Hunting down lost pensions has many benefits and is an important part of bolstering retirement savings. The government’s provided tools make this a much smoother process, but speaking with an IFA is the final piece of the puzzle to ensure you’re on path to achieving your retirement dreams.