The quick and easy guide to tracking your pension
Reviewing your pensions on a regular basis can be very wise. However, that information is not always close to hand – in fact sometimes it is easy to lose track of plans started with previous employers or with private pensions which have become inactive. This guide explains how you can track down earlier pension schemes and how we can help you assess what your current options are to maximise your investment for the future.
The headline facts at a glance
If you have lost track of your workplace or personal pension – don’t despair. The most straight- forward method is to search online through the government website help pages. However, the world of pensions can seem complex at the best of times and a financial adviser could help locate lost pensions and also, if you wish, assess current values and compare those values in terms with what is available currently on the market.
What is the easiest way to track my pension?
The government provides an online tracking service which you can access by clicking here. All you need to start the process is the name of any previous employers or the names of personal pensions you have set up. However, if you find this process a little daunting, if online services are not for you, or if you want to find out more about the value of your pension and future options across the market, we can do the tracking for you. Simply call Portafina on 0800 304 7600.
How do I know what my pensions are currently worth?
If you are no longer contributing to your previous occupational or personal pension(s) it is unlikely to have grown substantially since you last paid into it, however the fund you have created could still have a significant value for when you retire. In order to review all the pension plans you have invested in, it is a good idea to assess what each plan is currently worth and what features there may be, in order to determine whether there are more beneficial pension schemes on the market. Older plans tend to carry higher charges and are less likely to perform as well as modern schemes.
You can get an up to date value from your pension provider, but if you find yourself juggling many previous pensions or if you find the world of pensions all a bit complex and dry (trust us you are not alone!) we can help assess the value of your current pension for you.
Can I transfer my funds to a more effective pension plan?
Yes. This is called pension transfer or pension switch. As mentioned above older plans may not offer such a good return as more modern plans – also you may want to consider adding other features to your plan. For instance, the change in regulations in 2015 means you can release money from your pension at 55. At Portafina, we can guide you through assessing the value of your pensions specifically in terms of your unique requirements, needs and goals and then explore the current market in order to find out what your best options are.
Hopefully the information in this guide has given you a clear idea about how to track down your pensions, how to assess their value and how you could adapt your investment for your future needs. Below are two of our most frequently asked questions.
What is pension release?
From 2015, legislation changed to enable people to take money from their pension plans: this is called Pension Release. From the age of 55 you are allowed to take 25% of the pension pot tax-free with any remaining amounts taken as lump sums. This can be a useful feature if you need an amount of money urgently. However, you should also be very careful as taking too much money from your pension could have a detrimental effect on the amount available to you when you retire. Taking more than 25% can have a drastic effect on the tax you pay*. It may be that your pension plan does not allow this benefit. A financial adviser can guide you through your options and recommend the best choice for your circumstances.
Can I re-start contributing into an old occupational pension plan?
It really depends on the terms of the plan when you first set it up. There may be a facility to do this but it may not be the most cost-effective option for you. We would highly recommend that you assess the current value of the plan relative to the features and returns available on today’s open market and what your current needs are.