How can I access my old pension funds?

Published:
10:30 a.m. July 1, 2022



I have held several jobs over the years and have moved several times. I’m sure I joined a few company pension plans in my thirties, but I can’t find any documentation for them. Can I find them easily? The companies concerned have been closed or sold since I worked there. They won’t be big, but every little bit will help.


Douglas Bridges is an independent financial advisor at Smith & Pinching
– Credit: Smith & Pinching

Douglas Bridges of Smith & Pinching responds:

The government provides a pension finder service to help you with this specific situation on their website at www.gov.uk/find-pension-contact-details. You only need very basic information – usually the name of the company is sufficient – and if it was a registered scheme in that country they will have a record of contact details. They will not know your pension specifically, so you will need to use the contact details to write to the pension provider to request an assessment.

I must warn you that having an old pension fund does not always mean that there are benefits waiting for you. Pension rules have changed over the years: some plans may have minimum periods of employment for benefits to be retained, for example. Even if you are entitled to benefits, their growth over the years may have been limited, particularly if the scheme has been closed and is therefore not subject to any form of active management. Ongoing charges may also have been taken from your fund which would erode the final value.

On the plus side, some old plans had guaranteed benefits or may have enjoyed steady growth, providing a bigger nest egg than you might have expected.

If some of your pension funds are quite small, you may be able to take them in lump sums under the small pot rules. You can’t touch it until you reach the minimum retirement age (currently 55, but expected to reach 57 in April 2028), but after that you can withdraw up to 25% tax, with remaining withdrawals taxed as income. . Taking small pots will not affect your right to build up more of your other retirement savings, subject to the corresponding annual and lifetime deductions for contributions.

I suggest that you take stock of all of your different pension plans and ask yourself whether their consolidation or transfer to another plan would be advantageous, either for better performance or for a reduction in expenses, for example. However, please seek independent financial advice on this, as some plans may have guaranteed benefits or other valuable entitlements such as life cover.

The opinions expressed in this article do not constitute advice. The value of an investment and the income from it can go down as well as up. The return at the end of the investment period is not guaranteed and you may get back less than your initial investment.

For more information visit www.smith-pinching.co.uk