One in five people with more than one pension have lost track of their savings completely, and two in five have no idea how much they have put away for the future. Pension trends mean that these figures are going to soar over the coming years. So what can you do if you lose a pension?
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A survey by Aegon found that at the moment 62% of people have more than one pension. One in five of them have lost track of at least one of their savings pots, and as a result 6.6 million people may have lost a pension.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, however, because over time these figures are going to get even more alarming. Auto-enrolment means millions more people with have a pension through the workplace, and every time they change their job, they could be starting a new one. The average person has 11 jobs during their lifetime, which could mean pensions in double figures, and millions more people losing track of their retirement savings.
What can you do?
The first step is to track down your pension. The DWP has a pension tracing service, which lets you enter your old employer's name, and it will generate a current contact address. You can then write to them with your current and any previous name, current and previous addresses and your National Insurance number. You should also include the dates when you worked for the company.
Once you have sent your letters, it may be worth getting a state pension forecast too, which is available either online or on paper. You can apply for one on the government website. The figure provided won't be a cast iron guarantee, but it will give you an idea of what the state might provide.
Once you have tracked your pensions down, you don't have to do anything else. You can simply file details of each scheme somewhere safe, and keep an eye on them. The government will make this easier after 2019, because it will launch a pensions dashboard, which means you will be able to see all your pensions - including your state pension - in one place.
However, it's worth looking into each pension and what it offers. Some will have valuable benefits or guarantees attached; others will have a range of attractive and well-managed funds with low charges. It may be worth hanging onto these.
Others, however, may have expensive or complex charges, offer no access to pension freedoms, and not let you manage them online. If some of your pensions aren't up to scratch, it may be worth consolidating them into one - which you can choose for its low charges and flexibility. This will have the added benefit of making it easy to keep track of.
If you are finding it difficult to decide whether your pensions are worth consolidating or not, then if you have significant sums in those pensions, it may be worth taking professional advice. An adviser will be able to help you make your pensions more manageable in future, and although their advice will cost money, if they save you substantial ongoing charges from pension companies, their advice could pay for itself several times over.