This article appeared in Money Mail on new year’s eve and it’s by Ben Wilkinson. It’s an example of how journalism can be really helpful, and it’s an inspiration for me at AgeWage to make sure we’re on the list of apps that help people out – this time next year! You can read original here
Join the Pension Hunters: With up to £20BILLION of savings feared lost, here’s how to track down your missing pot
- Auto-enrolment has turned millions of workers into pension savers
- The PPI has said there could be around £19.4billion waiting to be claimed
- New money apps for smartphones can help workers pull together their pensions
Every penny of your pension counts in retirement, yet it is feared that savers have lost track of pots worth as much as £20billion.
But how do you track down a lost pension or even know you’re missing one?
The average person has 11 jobs in their lifetime, so it is no wonder two in three Britons have more than one pension pot.
Finance worker Lisa Bedford had previously spent a decade working for a blind company, but had lost track of her old pension provider. When her husband Mark, 52, opened up a self-invested personal pension with AJ Bell, the couple decided to track down Lisa’s old pot
The industry has long discussed launching an online pensions dashboard which will allow savers to view all their pots in one place. But without one yet in place, Money Mail explains how you can turn detective to find a hidden fortune…
Revisit Past Jobs
Auto-enrolment has turned millions of workers into pension savers, but it also means many will have been saving into pots without realising.
The Pensions Policy Institute (PPI) has predicted that even more pots will be lost thanks to auto-enrolment and the increased frequency with which younger workers move homes and jobs.
If someone leaves a job they might lose contact with their pension provider. And if they move house they might forget to notify all of their previous pension providers of their new address. So if you want to hunt down your retirement savings, start by retracing all your previous jobs.
Former pensions minister Steve Webb, now director of policy at Royal London, says: ‘Go through your work history and check if you were a member of a pension scheme for each of your past jobs. Try to track down former colleagues who may have contact details for the provider.’
Dig Out Clues
Old payslips or P60s could provide clues as to whether you were a member of a pension scheme in a previous job.
The National Insurance office may also help. Many workplace pension schemes were ‘contracted out’ of the state pension scheme. HMRC should, therefore, have records of this, and this could be a way of proving to a pension provider that you were a member of its scheme at the time.
You can also use the Government’s free Pension Tracing Service. This now receives 40,000 requests every week.
The service should provide you with contact details for the pension scheme or provider if you give the name of your former employer. But do not confuse this free service with others you can find on the internet that may charge.
Finance worker Lisa Bedford had previously spent a decade working for a blind company, but had lost track of her old pension provider.
Sales worker Andy Cocker used PensionBee to trace three pension pots worth more than £20,000 in total
When her husband Mark, 52, opened up a self-invested personal pension with AJ Bell, the couple decided to track down Lisa’s old pot. However, after looking for old paperwork, Lisa, from Nuneaton in Warwickshire, realised she had probably lost her documents when they moved eight years ago.
Fortunately, Mark found the Government’s pension tracing service online.
In February, they entered the name of the blind company Lisa had worked for and found a match to a pension provider, which Lisa then contacted about her savings.
Lisa, 48, says: ‘I was worried because I couldn’t remember who my old pension provider was.
‘You never think about these things when you are younger and it was only when Mark started looking at his pension that I started thinking about mine.’
However, just because you were once a member of a scheme in the past, it does not mean you are entitled to a pension — you may have transferred out of one scheme into another, or ‘cashed out’.
Try New Apps
New money apps for smartphones can also help workers pull together their pensions.
Customer service staff at apps such as Moneybox Pension and PensionBee might be able to help track down pensions for you.
The apps let you transfer old pensions into one pot and choose where to invest it. Sales worker Andy Cocker used PensionBee to trace three pension pots worth more than £20,000 in total — including a private scheme he didn’t even remember setting up.
The 49-year-old from Rochester, in Kent, had lost his documents and couldn’t remember the providers of his previous pension schemes.
The father-of-four served in the Army with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, before working as a self-employed electrician. He went on to work for two different companies which sold industrial supplies, and joined a similar company just a few months ago.
But when he heard an advert on the radio for PensionBee he decided to use the service to trace his lost pots.
After submitting a few details, such as his name, address and date of birth, he was sent information about three traced pots within four weeks. One contained £5,000; another was worth about £14,000; and a small private pension he did not remember setting up was found to contain £1,500.
He says: ‘The private pension was a real surprise, as I couldn’t even remember setting it up.
‘I’m glad I have tracked them all down and pulled them together — and I’ve encouraged my 27-year-old daughter to do the same.’
Research from Moneybox found that half of those surveyed did not know the providers of their old pension pots, and more than 84 pc felt their pension provider was not keeping them well informed.
David Brightman, 32, from London, used Moneybox to help find and transfer all his old pensions into one investment.
The software product manager says he found he had about £14,000 in old pensions. He says: ‘I had pots I had no idea about or had not thought to look at.’
Help is Coming
A decade ago the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) estimated that savers had lost track of around £3billion. Yet the PPI has more recently said there could be as much as £19.4billion waiting to be claimed, with the average missing pot worth £12,670
Industry estimates vary on how much money is sitting in neglected pension pots.
A decade ago the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) estimated that savers had lost track of around £3billion.
Yet the PPI has more recently said there could be as much as £19.4billion waiting to be claimed, with the average missing pot worth £12,670.
Mutual Royal London last year said it had spent more than £2million reuniting 36,000 customers with policies that totalled more than £14million.
Pension dashboards are expected to help millions of Britons manage their pensions. When launched, savers will be able to view all of their pots on one page.
But the service, which was supposed to be up and running last year, has been delayed.
Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, says: ‘Now the political uncertainty around the General Election has passed, the Government should get pension dashboards up and running.
‘Pension dashboards will show all pensions together at the touch of a screen, reducing the risk of losing track of any pensions.’
Mr Webb adds: ‘The pensions dashboard should help people find more of their lost pensions, but if scheme data is imperfect there will still be gaps. It will still be necessary to turn into something of a private detective in order to track down all of your missing pots.’