Have you checked your pension lately? A lot of people haven't, which means they may be sleepwalking into problems in later life. According to the insurer Aviva, nearly two-thirds of people aged over 45 haven't checked the performance of their pension, meaning around 10 million retirement savings schemes are at risk of underperforming.
"People need to monitor their pension every year to make sure it's on track. If you don't, you could reach retirement and only then realise there's a shortfall," warns John Lawson at Aviva in a new video interview I've made with him.
If that happens, the remedy could be stark: you may be forced to continue working for much longer than you planned. But by taking action now, you can avoid that potential disaster. The first step is to track down all your old pensions – which you may have paid into in previous jobs – through the Pension Tracing Service. It's an official service that keeps records of all company pension scheme members.
You'll find the Pension Tracing Service at gov.uk/find-lost-pension or you can call 0345 6002 537. It will help if you have your national insurance number, as well as details of the companies where you've been employed and when you worked for them.
In the video – which you can watch online at ind.pn/1OENdu8 – Mr Lawson explains how to find out how much pension you may have and what you need to do to ensure that your retirement plans are on target.
For starters, rather than leaving several different pensions from different companies where they are, it may make sense to consolidate them all into one, which will make your money easier to monitor.
There may also be some benefit in moving your savings into a better fund – or one that is more appropriate for your retirement plans – rather than, say, leaving it in a fund in which your pension plan may have invested 20 years ago.
On the other hand if you have an old final salary pension, it would be bonkers to switch the cash out.
There may be some complicated decisions to make, which means it would be good sense to talk to an independent financial adviser.
The Money Advice Service has a useful guide to choosing a financial adviser at its website, moneyadviceservice.org.uk.
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