What is pension consolidation?
Pension consolidation is the process of combining multiple pension pots into one single pot.
This can be done by pension transfer or by opening a new pension and transferring your other pensions into the new one.
You may want to do this to make it easier to keep track of your retirement savings, to reduce fees being paid on your current schemes or to gain a better rate of return on your investment.
There are a few things to consider before consolidating your pensions, such as any exit fees that may be charged, and whether or not you will lose any valuable benefits such as guaranteed annuity rates.
Should I consolidate my pensions?
Sara Guy, Financial Planner at Ellis Bates
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The employment landscape has evolved significantly over the last few decades and changing jobs multiple times before retirement is now very much the norm. However, keeping track of workplace pension schemes can be challenging and with an estimated £9.7 billion of unclaimed defined contribution pension funds in the UK it’s clear just how important it is to keep track of your pensions and maximise their benefits.
Over time, it is easy to lose touch with pension savings providers as we change jobs, move home and the companies we have worked for change ownership or close down. All these events over time may make it very difficult to find your valuable pension savings. You will undoubtedly end up with a number of different pension pots, and it may be appropriate to consider reviewing and consolidating your defined contribution pension pots to ensure they work as hard as possible for you.
Should I consolidate my pensions?
Reasons why you might want to consolidate your pensions
If you have multiple pension pots, it may be difficult to keep track of them all. Consolidating your pensions into one pot could make it easier to manage your retirement savings.
If you have multiple pensions with different providers, you may be paying multiple annual fees. Consolidating your pensions may help you reduce fees.
Some pension providers offer a limited number of investment options. By consolidating your pensions it could give you access to a wider range of investments.
Reasons why you may not want to consolidate your pensions
One key disadvantage is that you may lose out on valuable benefits that are specific to certain pension schemes. For example, some schemes may offer better death benefits than others, so consolidating your pensions into one pot could mean giving up this valuable protection.
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Another potential downside is that some schemes may have higher charges than you are currently paying, which means you would end up paying higher fees. This is something that needs to be carefully considered before making any decisions.
Accessing your pension funds: it is important to check on ease of access to your pension funds if you decide to consolidate as some schemes limit early access if you need money in an emergency.
How can I locate all my pensions?
If you think you might have lost track of pension pots from previous jobs, you can use the government’s Pension Tracing Service at www.gov.uk/find-pension-contact-details.
Here you can locate money previously saved for retirement, that is unclaimed.
Finally, one thing you also need to bear in mind is that pension savings are big targets for fraudsters.
If someone contacts you unexpectedly offering to help you transfer your pension pot, it’s likely to be a scam. If you are concerned in any way you can contact the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to check they are a legitimate pension fund company.
Seek qualified financial advice
If appropriate, pension consolidation can simplify your finances and make it easier to keep track of your retirement savings. Not all pension types can or should be transferred so it is important to obtain professional advice so you can compare the various features and benefits of your pensions plans before transferring and/or consolidating.
For more information about how we can assist you through this complex process, please contact us to discuss your personal situation.
Your pension planning needs to be reviewed and adjusted throughout your working life and beyond, as your personal and family needs will change and evolve many times. Find out more about our pension planning service.
“Colin provided sound impartial advice on my pensions and we amalgamated some and left some where they were as I would have lost some benefits from the original schemes if I were to move them.”
“Tom has helped me decide what was the right pension option for me was. He made moving my various pension pots in to one very painless. He has set up my monthly drawdown amount and has also arrange over the last two years for addition lump sums to be paid out and made it all very easy. I have a yearly review with Tom but I am kept informed of quarterly reviews of the portfolio I’m in and any changes they suggest and on going performance.”