Top tips for keeping track of your pensions as you move around the world

A recent study of British pension holders has revealed that 6.6 million people have lost track of at least one of their pensions. Could you be one of those people who has “lost” a pension?

A calculator and pot of coins next to a file labelled 'Pension'

In my parents’ working era, people worked for one, maybe two, companies. They had a State Pension plus one or two private pensions. Nowadays, according to official UK and US figures (*) people may have as many as 11 jobs during their careers with as many pensions, making it hard to keep track of them all.

How do you “lose” a pension?

The UK Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) says independent research suggests that the most common moment for losing track of a pension is when an individual leaves an employer and does not keep them informed of any future changes of address.

Aegon research into lost pensions (October 2016) reveals that 62% of people have multiple pensions but more than one in five (21%) of this group has lost track of one or all their pensions. As a result, they estimate more than 6.6million people may have misplaced some of their retirement savings.

Young couple talking to a financial advisor

The DWP estimates that there could be as many as 50 million dormant and lost pension pots by 2050. If you’re a British expat with a State Pension or UK-based private pension there are some straightforward steps you can take to track down your potentially “dormant” pot of gold.

You should receive a pension statement each year from each of your pension providers, but if you have moved about and haven’t informed them of your new address, you won’t receive them. If you do have the pension provider’s name, contact them directly to update your information and find out what’s in your pension plan. If you can’t remember the name or details of the UK provider you can find them through the UK government’s Pension Tacking Service. You’ll need the name of your employer to use it. The service won’t tell you how much you have in your pension, instead it provides the contact details so that you can find out more yourself. You can call the tracking service too on +44 (0)191 215 4491.

One other obvious thing to do to prevent the loss of a pension as you move around the world, is sign up for a post redirection service. Even if you think you have updated all your possible mailing contacts, there could be one important one that slips through the net. Redirection is not expensive. If you go to live somewhere that has unreliable mail, have your post redirected to a trusted friend or family member.

A retired couple sitting on a bench looking out to the sea

A “Dashboard” revolution might be coming your way

The UK government is working on the development of a new service called the Pensions Dashboard, which will allow UK pension holders to see and check all their pensions in one place.  At the moment, there is no way for people to see the value of all of their pensions in one place. Research by the UK Treasury has shown that over a third of people approaching retirement find it difficult to keep track of their pension pots.

To address this problem, the UK Treasury (which oversees pensions) has secured an agreement from 11 of the largest pension providers (Aviva, Aon, HSBC, LV=, NEST, Now: Pensions, People’s Pension, Royal London, Standard Life, Zurich and Willis Towers Watson) to build a pensions “dashboard” where all 11 of those companies’ pensions can be displayed in one place.  The ABI (the independent “voice” of the insurance and savings industry) is managing the pilot project which is being trialled across the country. Unfortunately, it isn’t expected to go live until 2019, but when it does it should make all this tracking business so much easier. Keep up to date with the Pensions Dashboard developments here.

If you want to find out what you might get from your UK State Pension, based on your National Insurance Contributions (NIC) record go to the Gov.UK’s ‘Check your State Pension’ page – a secure site for people living in the UK. If you are abroad or have lived abroad, you should contact the International Pension Centre. Details are here.

(*The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the UK Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

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