Pensions are a type of savings plan which help people save money for later in life. If you have worked in a number of different workplaces, you could potentially have many different pensions. Britons around the UK have more free time in their homes than ever and now have the chance to combine several pensions into a single pension pot, but how do you do this?
What is a pension pot?
A pension pot is the total amount of money from pension contributions made by you and/or your employer for your retirement.
Your pot also includes any capital growth earned from your fund’s investments, depending upon when and how your scheme was set up.
A pension pot does not include your State Pension, which is provided by the Government.
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How can you find lost pensions?
There is currently an estimated £400 million in unclaimed pension savings.
If you are struggling to find details of your pensions, you can use the Government’s pension contact details form here.
You will need the name of your employer or a pension provider to use the service.
The service will then find the contact details for your workplace or pension scheme, or someone else’s scheme if you have their permission.
You can also use the Pension Tracing Service by calling 0800 731 0193 or via post at The Pension Service 9, Mail Handling Site A, Wolverhampton, WV98 1LU.
How can you find out how much is in your separate pensions?
You can check how much State Pension you get and when here.
Your workplace pension fund/s will send you a pension statement once a year which tells you how much your pension pot is worth.
However, you can also create an online account with your fund and use their website to check the amount in your pension at any time.
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Should you move your old pensions into one single pension pot?
If you have several different pensions it can be difficult to track how they are all performing.
It is possible some long-forgotten pensions could end up festering for years in expensive and poorly performing funds.
Transferring your pension could see you move your money to a new home with another provider.
The main justification for switching is most often to reduce charges on your scheme, particularly older schemes with higher fees.
However, you must remember older pensions may have “exit penalties”.
This would mean the benefit of moving your pension to another provider could be cancelled out by the exit penalty.
Other reasons could be to:
- Save money
- Achieve better growth
- Improve convenience
- Keep track of your pensions savings more easily.
Pros and cons of combining all of your pension pots
- Easier to keep track of your pension savings
- You may be able to access more and better choices in terms of investment.
- You will pay less in overall charges if money is transferred into a pension with more competitive rates.
- Opting to use the transfer value to shift money out of a final salary pension is usually a bad idea.
- Some schemes have exit penalties.
- Older pots may have attractive features which you will miss by leaving.
- There are tax perks for keeping pots separate as you can take three pots of up to £10,000 which is deemed trivial and does not count against your lifetime allowance or trigger a cut in your annual allowance due to Money Purchase Annual Allowance rules.
How to transfer pension pots
Before you consider combining your pension pots, you should:
- Check if you will be charged fees to transfer one pot to another.
- Check if you will lose any special features.
- Check all individual pension providers for the rules and conditions for transferring and combining pots.
- You should find the transfer value of your pot, which is the amount your pot would be worth if you moved it to a different provider.
- Look at the transfer value of your pot may help you work out if your pension has an early exit fee.
You will need to shop around for a new provider to transfer the scheme to and then complete an application for the transfer.
It is often worth seeking specialist advice before undertaking any transfers.
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