1. Track down old workplace pensions
The first step is to go through all your paperwork to see if you can find details of any old workplace pension schemes. Then, write to the company providing the pension, tell them your new address, and ask for an up-to-date statement on how your money is doing. You can find a great letter template from MoneyHelper, a free and impartial government service offering guidance about pensions. .
If you’re trying to track down a workplace pension, you could try contacting the company you used to work for. They may be able to point you in the right direction.
The Pension Tracing Service is a free government service that searches a database of more than 200,000 pension schemes to try and find the contact details you need.
2. Consider combining pensions
Your pension pot could be one of the most valuable assets you’ll have at retirement. Bringing your pension savings together into one combined pot could make your retirement savings easier to manage – and in some cases might reduce your costs. Take a look at our video which explains combining your pensions in more detail.
3. Review your pensions regularly
To stay on track for the future you want, you should regularly review how your workplace pension is performing. You can do this by checking your pension statements or requesting a valuation. Remember when checking how your workplace pension is performing that pensions are a long-term investment and the value of your pot can fall as well as rise.
It’s also important to review your pensions regularly to make sure you’re keeping any personal details up to date.
4. Save where you can
The key to saving is making it a regular habit. And, if you can, increasing your monthly pension contributions even a little, could make a big difference over time.
If you do want to increase your contributions, make sure you know when and how this can be changed. For example, this could be at any time, as part of a pay review, or in a benefit selection window. There may also be the option for you to make single contributions when an opportunity arises. For example, at a tax-year end or from a bonus payment, windfall, gift or an inheritance.
If you get a pay rise, contributions will automatically increase if calculated as a percentage of your salary. So, both your employer and your own contributions will rise.
5. Review your investments in the scheme default fund
It’s important to monitor the performance of the funds you’re invested in. It’s a good idea to register and log in to your online account to review your workplace pension savings. If you haven’t chosen your own workplace pension investments, it’s likely that contributions are being invested in your scheme’s default fund. Company default funds are types of funds typically developed for savers who don’t make active fund choices.
The advantage of a scheme default is that your pension contributions are invested as soon as you join your scheme, and are managed for you right up to your selected retirement date. Default funds tend to get a higher level of scrutiny because employers and scheme trustees have a regulatory obligation to ensure their default fund remains appropriate for their scheme.
The disadvantage is that the default fund is not tailored to your individual needs. It’s chosen to meet the needs of the average scheme member.
If you’re unsure if a particular fund, or switching funds, is right for you, please speak to a financial adviser. They’ll be able to understand your needs and help you choose funds that are a good match to your savings goals. You can find an adviser on MoneyHelper. There may be a cost for financial advice.
Remember, the value of an investment can fall as well as rise and isn’t guaranteed. The value of your pension pot when you come to take benefits may be less than has been paid in.