How to Track Down Lost Pensions

National Pension Tracing Day took place on 30th October, in a bid to encourage more people in the UK to track down lost pensions. The concept was founded by Punter Southall Aspire, and is now a cross-industry collaboration supported by several leading pension providers and other organisations.

While the day itself has passed, if you think you have a forgotten pension pot somewhere, it is not too late to track it down.

Could Have a Lost Pension?

It’s estimated that as many as 1 in 20 people could have a lost pension that they did not know they had. This is not surprising, as many people move employers several times over the course of their working life. Moving house can add to the problem, as you won’t receive statements. Older pension schemes especially are unlikely to provide online access.

It’s likely that there are around 2.8 million lost pension pots, with an average pot size of £9,500. If you think some of this missing £2.7 billion or so could be yours, it might be worth tracking it down.

Getting Started

It might be useful to make a list of your employment history and ensure there are no gaps. Next, consider gathering together the statements for all of the pensions you know about. If you don’t have a full history for each pension, you can ask the provider for this. You should check when the pension started and confirm the years in which you made contributions. You can then cross reference this with your employment history.

If there are years in which you were working, but no contributions were made to an existing pension, there is a good chance you have a lost pension pot somewhere.

If you were working in the 1980s and 1990s, there is a strong possibility that you were contracted out of the Second State Pension. This means that some of your National Insurance contributions would have been directed into a workplace or personal pension. You can check your State Pension forecast online at You can also view your National Insurance record through your Government Gateway account.

Personal pensions are less likely to be lost as you need to set them up directly rather than through an employer. But circumstances can change, so it’s a good idea to hunt down any paperwork you may have.


What to Do Next

First of all, make sure your contact details are up to date with each of your pension providers. If you only have old statements, it’s possible that they have been sending information to a previous address.

You may also find statements from companies that have since been taken over. This can be confusing if you have statements from two companies about the same pension. You can find a list of pension and insurance companies, as well as details of any takeovers here.

If you have identified any possible gaps in your workplace pension history, you will need to find contact details for the missing pension providers. This can seem daunting, but the government has set up a website for this purpose here.

You can then contact the provider for an up to date pension statement. You should include as much information as possible in your request, especially if you don’t have a plan number. The provider will need your name and address – as these might have changed since you took out the plan, it’s a good idea to include any former details. They may also require your date of birth and National Insurance number.


Once you have a complete and up to date picture of your pension history, you can start to plan for your retirement. Your statements should include an estimate of the pension you can expect to receive. If you feel you need to boost your retirement income, you can start to contribute more.

If you have multiple pensions, you may decide to consolidate them with a single provider. It’s worth checking whether your existing schemes have any guarantees or extra benefits attached, for example, guaranteed annuities or enhanced tax-free cash. A financial adviser can help you decide if moving your pension is a good idea.

Avoiding Scams

Scammers can always find creative ways to part people with their money, and if you are searching for a lost pension, you may find yourself a target.

The following may indicate that you are being targeted for a scam:

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Receiving a cold call

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Being offered a way to circumvent the normal pension rules, for example, taking benefits before age 55.

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Promises of high investment returns with no risk.

Legitimate pension providers and financial advisers are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). You can find out more about pension scams and how to avoid them here.

Tips for Retirement Planning

When you have a clear idea of your pension entitlement, you will be better placed to plan your future. Some tips for successful retirement planning are:

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Consider checking your State Pension entitlement. If you have any gaps in your record in the last six years, you may be able to make voluntary National Insurance contributions.

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Consider opting into your workplace pension scheme, if you have one available.

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Invest appropriately for your life stage. As a general rule, the longer your investment timescale, the greater your capacity to invest in higher volatility asset classes, such as equities. It is important you consider the composition of your portfolio carefully as you approach retirement, as everyone’s attitude and capacity for risk is different.

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Consider increasing your contributions every year. You will barely notice the expenditure, but cumulative increases can make a huge difference.

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Check your annual statements to ensure your projected income remains on track.

Please don’t hesitate to contact a member of the team to find out more about retirement planning.

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Please don’t hesitate to contact a member of the team to find out more about financial planning.