Lost pensions are not a new problem in the UK, although as expats near their retirement age, the realisation that they have not received any information about their pension recently suddenly rings home.
It is estimated by some that there is over £3bn in unclaimed personal and workplace pensions held in the UK in over 1 million pension accounts.
Unfortunately, as with all records, every time you move home and/or job the chances of losing some vital information or forgetting to update the relevant company increases. Similarly for the companies holding your records, they may merge, be bought out or simply update their systems causing crucial information to be lost.
In each case, while far from ideal, there is a decent chance that throughout the years, your pension company has lost track of you, and you have lost track of your pension funds.
If you haven’t received your pension statement for over a year, it is possible that your pension has joined the increasing number of lost pensions.
Lost pensions for British Expats
As a British Expat, since you last worked in the UK you have at least moved home once, and therefore it is possible that you have lost track of your pensions.
If you have lost track of your pension, it may be possible to trace your pension and get your details up to date.
What you’ll need to find a lost pension
If you wish to find any lost pensions you will need some the following information as a minimum:
- Previous addresses
- Previous employment details (company details, start date, end date)
The following information would significantly increase the chances of finding any lost pensions
- Date you joined the pension scheme
- Your National Insurance Number
- Payslips providing evidence of pension payments
- Previous pension statements (the more recent the better)
- Employers type of business
- Employer’s alternative trading names
- Employer’s head office details (or group HQ)
Success rates for finding lost pensions
Even with the assistance of the HMRC, unfortunately it is not always possible to find lost pension funds.
The success rate will depend on a variety of factors, including the accuracy of information and also the circumstances under which the pension was lost in the first place.
For example, if your pension firm was merged or bought out and your details were accidentally lost in the merging process, it may be harder to trace your pension.
If, however, you simply forgot to update your pension company when you moved abroad, the chances of finding your pension increase significantly, due to it being a minor administrative error.
In no circumstance can an organisation guarantee to find a lost pension, however, most independent financial advisers can assist you in tracing your pensions using a combination of HMRC tools, as well as information about various pension companies’ activities over the years.
In all cases, if you wish to request help you should be prepared to share information about your previous addresses, work history, any pay slips or copies of previous pension statements – all of which will significantly increase the chances of finding pension funds.
What happens if/when you find your lost pension?
Depending on your current situation, there may be a number of options available to you. If you are not yet able to draw an income from the pension, you could simply leave the pension as is, or you might also qualify to transfer it abroad.
This is where an independent financial adviser will be able to provide more assistance. They will be able to review your found pension, as well as evaluate any other investments and pensions and be able to make a recommendation for your best next course of action.
When making the recommendation they will incorporate your objectives, risk profile and any other pertinent factors to propose recommendations for you to make a decision about.
How we can help find your pension
We have a network of independent financial advisers located around the world who have extensive experience helping British expats find their lost pensions, at no cost.
They are also able to provide independent advice on how best to manage your pensions once they are found, incorporating any additional pension schemes and investments you may have.
If you would like help finding a lost pension, enter your details via the form and we will organise for an independent financial adviser from our network to contact you to discuss how they can help you.