A pot of gold could be at the end of your pensions rainbow – Birmingham Post article 28.10.2021

Is there a lost pension with your name on it?

Because 31 October is National Pension Tracing Day … so it’s time to find out.

Cast your mind back 10, 20 or even 30 years. Where were you working? Can you remember if there was a pension scheme?

Pension providers would normally send you a statement every year. That’s if they still have the correct contact details for you.

According to those behind NPTD, including investment giants Aegon, Legal & General, Standard Life and Scottish Widows, when people move home, only around one in 25 remember to tell their pension providers their new address, contributing to £19.4 billion of unclaimed pension pots, averaging at £13,000 each.

Though it may require carrying out some detective work (no need to call in Hercule Poirot) you don’t have to be a financial expert to find lost pensions.

So, here are some tips to get you started.

Head down memory lane. List all the places you’ve worked in the past and roughly how long you worked there. If you have them, old CVs, payslips, P45s or P60s may help.

Did you contract out of the Additional State Pension, either SERPS (the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme) or S2P (the State Second Pension)? It was particularly popular in the late 1980s and 1990s to build up a private pension by giving up entitlement to the additional element of the State Pension. If you did, you may well have a personal pension that you’ve forgotten about.

For each pension pot you have information on, check whether your contact details are up-to-date. If they aren’t, start beavering.

Some pension providers have been taken over – so you may need to find out what group they’re part of now. Try an online search for the provider you have to see if another company name comes up. Companies House is a source of information, as is the Government’s free Pension Tracing Service.

Your employer may have used a personal pension as their workplace pension – often referred to as a group personal pension or group stakeholder plan. You will need to track down the name of the pension provider, perhaps by contacting your old employer, speaking to ex-work colleagues or locating relevant paperwork.

Unearthed a provider’s name? Now inquire if they’ve got any record of a pension plan for you. You will need your National Insurance number and they are likely to want you to prove you are who you say you are – they’ll let you know what they need.

If they do have your pension, find out how much is in the pot.

Check what retirement age each pension provider has for you. Is it in line with when you plan to start taking your benefits? If not, ask it to be updated.

How is each pension pot currently invested? In the case of defined contribution or DC pensions, do the investment choices need changing to reflect how you feel about levels of risk, and your retirement vision?

Fill in an expression of wish form (also known as a ‘nomination’ or ‘nomination of beneficiaries’ form) for each of your pensions. This names the people or organisations you’d like to get the benefits that would be paid if you die before you start taking them.

Think ‘consolidation’.

Putting everything in one place could make your pension easier to manage. However, consolidation may not be right for you if some of your pensions have promises or guarantees you’d lose if you transferred them.

I wish you good luck. All a bit like an adult version of one of those childhood treasure hunts!