Regular MoneySucks reader Stephen Baxter has just asked us this question:
“I was at one point working for Scotrail and then a few years as a teacher. I know I have pensions I have paid into but what can I do to get this money and get it working for me in a pension scheme?”
This is a really common problem at the moment, and there are billions of pounds floating about in pensions schemes in the UK that people have lost contact with.
It’s very easy to do, but it can involve a bit of old-fashioned leg work on the phone or on-line. . Most people have had more than one employer these days, and many of us have periods of employment and self-employment, meaning that we could have a variety of company and personal pensions lying around.
They can have significant values and it’s usually a good idea to at least look at consolidating some of them into one simple scheme, although you need to be careful if you have final salary schemes that have valuable guarantees that you won’t want to lose.
There are two ways to deal with this.
The first, and easier, is to go and see an Independent Financial Adviser who specialises in this the of work. He or she will take a note of al of your ex-employers, and the insurers that you have personal pension with and written to them all for up-to-date values and options. They will then produce a report for you making recommendations as to the best way forward taking into account the benefits offered by the old schemes, the way they charge you, and the performance of any monies invested where the benefits are not salary-related. You will, of course, have to pay for this service and you should make sure that you check the costs involved before the adviser does any wok for you.
You might decide to do some of the work yourself and if you do you can log on to www.Gov.uk and work through the steps there to find out where you need to write. This service won’t tell you whether you have a pension with a particular company or employer, but it will tel you who you need to write to if you think that you do.
Be aware when doing a Google search for this service. There are companies out there that look similar to the Gov.uk site but they will charge you for any work that you do. Make sure you are using the service that is free.