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Unclaimed pensions average £28,000

Senior man using a laptop and taking notes at a desk

It's not always easy to keep track of your workplace pension savings, especially if you have moved jobs or changed address several times. Over the years, pension schemes are often merged or renamed, further complicating matters.

But it's money you have earned and are entitled to, so it's worth taking the time to trace your old pension pots.

High management fees

The majority (88%) of UK employees with workplace pensions have at least one pension pot that remains unclaimed, according to new research from wealth manager Netwealth.

These lost pension savings amount to an average of £28,000 per person -- a considerable sum that could make a real difference to quality of life in retirement.

Savers with legacy pots lying dormant are also at risk of not making the most of these assets over time, as providers charging high management fees will erode the value of these savings.

Once they are traced, these pension savings can be consolidated with your current employer's pension scheme or transferred to another scheme.

"It is understandable that in the current climate of market volatility and the cost-of-living crisis, there is a growing fear among investors that their savings won't go far enough in later life, especially with average lifetimes extending, requiring more substantial retirement savings," said Charlotte Ransom, chief executive and founder of Netwealth.

"Now more than ever, it is vital that consumers track down any stranded pensions that they have worked hard to earn, and that they act to recover them sooner rather than later to regain control over these important pools of value.

"Savers need to be protecting and fully maximising the value of their retirement savings, ensuring their assets are working as hard as they could be when it comes to delivering financial returns."

'Holistic view'

For over two fifths (42%) of savers who have lost track of a pension, between two and five of their various pots are now stranded, the research showed.

This was particularly the case for female respondents. As many as half (50%) of women with unclaimed pension pots said that they do not have sight of or access to up to five company pensions accrued throughout their career.

"The high number of stranded assets is clearly concerning, obstructing consumers from having a holistic view across all of their wealth in aggregate in order to be able to plan forward with confidence and identify the funds needed for key milestones," Charlotte Ransom added.

Trace your lost pension savings

If you think you may have pension savings in a lost account, dig out any paperwork you can find, such as old payslips or annual statements. Ask your past employers for more information about the pension scheme they offered at the time you worked there. Once you know which provider your pension was with, you can contact them directly.

The government's Pension Tracing Service can also help you find contact details to search for a lost pension.

In the future, pension dashboards -- currently under development by the industry -- are intended to give a comprehensive overview of people's pension savings in one secure place, making it easier for savers to plan for their retirement and make more informed decisions.

Posted by Fidelius on September 18th 2023

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