Tracking down lost pensions

In today’s world, it is commonplace for employees to regularly change jobs. Indeed, the average UK employee changes jobs 12 times throughout their career. And with people changing jobs so regularly and the advent of autoenrollment, employees often accumulate and lose track of multiple pension pots, which could threaten many people’s long-term financial wellness.

Worryingly, current estimates place the value of ‘forgotten’ pension funds in the UK at £19 billion, with almost a third (28%) of Britons admitting that this lack of knowledge about their former pension funds causes them a significant amount of stress, according to Mintago’s own research.

Particularly in the current economic climate, losing this kind of money could seriously impact the financial wellness of many Britons. As inflation soars, energy bills rise and food prices increase ever higher, many people can’t afford to lose their pension pots, and hundreds of thousands of Britons (if not millions) would benefit from tracking them down. However, as over one in ten (14%) Britons don’t know how to track down their ‘forgotten’ pension pots, this money could be lost forever.

As such, it’s clear that more needs to be done to improve UK employees’ knowledge about how to track down and access their former pension funds. So what pension hunting options do Briton’s have?

Tracking down lost pensions

The first port of call for Britons is to contact previous pension providers that they know that they have been enrolled with in the past if they know who their providers have been. However, the pension company will need some key details in order to find the pot, such as the pension plan number and scheme enrolment date, which former employees might no longer have access to. As such, they will have to contact their old employers to find the key details before they can find their former funds, let alone access them. This process can be time-consuming and laborious at the best of times but would be near impossible if the former employer has ceased to exist.

Alternatively, Britons can access the government’s Pension Tracing Service. This online tool will help you identify the pension provider associated with an employer.  At face value, this might seem like a good option. However, this is another time-consuming process which only provides employees with the name and contact details of their pension providers. As such, without the requisite details needed to access their former pots, employees will still have to go through the rigmarole of finding the necessary details that pension providers will require before releasing any information.

Encouragingly, government plans are in place to create a pension dashboard for Britons that will help them track down their lost pensions, see how much they have saved and increase pension engagement. As has been shown in countries like Sweden and the Netherlands, a dashboard could be seriously beneficial for many employees. Unfortunately, there have been numerous delays to the introduction of a pension dashboard, meaning UK savers are stuck in the slow lane compared to other European nations. As such, with the current estimated introduction date of the dashboard in 2023/2024, this will do little to improve the financial wellness of Britons in the short term.

Therefore, many Britons might opt to trace and access their pensions using a pension provider tracking tool. Like the dashboard, these tools can help you track down your pensions quickly and easily, before making them more accessible. However, there are often hidden terms and conditions, as well as costs, that many consumers are often unaware of when they sign up. For example, pension funds will require Britons to transfer all their savings to their platform once they have tracked down your lost funds. Ultimately, this could limit their financial freedom of choice and there might be charges if consumers choose to withdraw or transfer their money.

Online platforms can help

For Briton’s to really take control of their lost pension funds and manage them in an accessible way, online financial wellness platforms are a great alternative to the options listed above. On platforms like Mintago - available as a benefit provided by employers - individuals can benefit from being able to track down their former pension contributions with the click of a button and view all the pensions savings in one single pot. Further, such platforms usually display the user’s pension information in a clear, jargon-free format, ensuring the information is easy to understand. Consequently, individuals will gain a well-rounded understanding of their financial situation and be able to make more informed financial decisions.

Another benefit of platforms like Mintago, is that Briton’s can view their pensions on an all-in-one dashboard alongside their current and savings accounts. Thus, individuals will be given a much clearer image of their financial situation for the long term. This makes planning for retirement and the future much easier as alongside savings targets and goals, individuals can access extensive educational materials about other areas of their financial lives and take control of their finances. As such, in the current economic climate, Briton’s can develop a coherent and sustainable savings strategy to feel financially secure in the long-term, allowing them to focus on navigating the short-term cost-of-living crisis.

Final thoughts

To conclude, pension pots are arguably the largest asset that many people will own in their lives and can make all the difference to an individual’s long-term financial security. As such, it is vitally important that Britons are able to track down all the pension funds that they are entitled to. Fortunately, with a financial wellbeing platform by their side, individuals will be able to find their lost funds and manage their pots in one place, allowing them to make better decisions about their money and improve their financial wellness.