Billions lying in ‘lost’ pensions and bank accounts – how to find what’s yours
MoneyPlus Features Team | July 2, 2019
Time to read: 5 minutes
There are an estimated 1.6 million lost pensions in the UK worth around £20 billion. Add that to the millions lying unclaimed in old bank accounts, premium bonds, insurance policies and investments and you have an eye-watering sum of money that could make a real difference to many people. But all is not lost – if you think some of it might be yours, here’s how to track it down.
Find a forgotten pension or misplaced savings account and you could be thousands of pounds better off.
Pensions worth around £20 billion have been neglected with an average worth of around £13,000, says the Pensions Policy Institute.
And it is said there is up to £850 million lying forgotten in dormant bank and savings accounts.
Lost pension – how does it happen, how do you find one?
The average person changes employers every five years. For some, it’s more often, and each job could mean a new workplace pension.
Once you’ve built up a few pension pots – and perhaps an older personal pension too – it can be easy to lose sight of them.
If you think you’ve lost one, all you need is the name of your employer or pension provider to get started.
If you don’t have those, you can use the Government’s online Pension Tracing Service.
And with the Government predicting that there could be as many as 50 million dormant or lost pensions by 2050 – taking some simple steps now could help you make sure yours isn’t one of them in future.
Keep in touch and check in with your pension regularly
You’re probably familiar with the annual statement your provider sends you to let you know how your pension is performing.
But something as simple as not notifying your provider of a change of address can mean you miss out.
Going paperless and receiving your statements electronically instead could be the solution and it’s good for the environment. Or simply ensure you keep your details updated either online or in writing. And while you’re at it, you can check you have nominated your beneficiaries. That’s who you’ve asked your pension provider to consider benefitting from your pension savings if anything happened to you, as this isn’t normally covered by your Will.
What next? It could make sense to bring all your pensions together
If you’ve found a lost pension and you want to make it easier to stay in control of your savings, it’s worth thinking about combining your pots into one pension to make things easier to manage.
You’ll have everything in one place when you want to check that your pension savings are in the right kind of investments for you – your pension savings are invested – making it easier to change them if they’re not.
If you’re considering consolidating your pensions, it’s important to check first that you’re not giving up any valuable benefits or guarantees and to factor in any costs.
It makes sense to speak to an expert to get information on your situation. Consolidating isn’t right for everyone and there’s no guarantee you’d get more as a result, so you need to consider all of the facts.
How to find a lost bank account
Visiting My Lost Account can help you find a lost bank or building society account. It’s a free online service run by the Government-owned National Savings and Investments (NS&I), which can help trace accounts even when you’re not sure which bank or building society has your money.
Don’t forget your premium bonds – £61m is unclaimed
More than 21 million UK savers have premium bonds, the NS&I’s scheme that pays out prizes from a monthly draw instead of interest. Might you be one of them?
This year it was revealed that there are unclaimed premium bonds prizes worth £61m. Prize cheques worth £8m were returned because the bond owners didn’t share their new address.
Track down lost stocks
It’s not hard to see how we might lose track of our shares, with businesses regularly re-branding and merging. But companies will keep a record of shareholders and new certificates can be issued – though a cost may be involved. If you’re unsure, contact the company directly or try one of the main share registrars.
Time to tidy up your finances
When you’ve been reunited with any missing money, what’s the next step to stop it going walkabout again?
There are apps that allow you to bring together bank accounts, credit cards and savings in one place. These often allow you to look at your incomings and outgoings and let you set yourself goals and spending limits.
Get some inspiration from Which’s round-up of apps to help you stay in control; many of them are free.
Don’t forget about your pension and ISAs (Individual Savings Account). If you’re a Standard Life customer our app lets you track and manage your pension, make payments or even open a new stocks and shares ISA*.
*Stocks and shares ISA provided by Standard Life Savings Limited.
The information here is based on our understanding in July 2019 and shouldn’t be taken as financial advice. Both pensions and stocks and shares ISAs are investments, their value can go down as well as up and you could get back less than you paid in.
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