Expert Pensions

Find My Pension

The name is Bond …. Personal Retirement Bond.

It’s not the kind of line you imagine Daniel Craig reciting in the latest 007 movie but if you’re tracking down old pensions, then a PRB could be very useful indeed.

Most of us move jobs at some stage in our careers. Often, it’s not just old colleagues we leave behind but contributions to an occupational pension scheme, as well.

Tracking down these paid-up pensions (perhaps better described as lost pensions) could mean discovering a huge stash of cash sitting untouched in an old fund.

Most of us don’t know our options when it comes to these schemes, so they stay dormant and unmanaged for long periods of time. 

Remember, you do not lose the benefits you have built up when you leave a pension scheme. The money remains in the fund and will increase due to compound interest. Further growth will depend on how the fund is being managed and the performance of markets etc.

You can take back control of these funds through the aforementioned Personal Retirement Bond (also known as a Buy-out Bond). You then decide how your money should be invested — with the help of a qualified financial advisor or broker.

By transferring your paid-up pension, you can manage and review it annually, be aware of any charges/fees being applied, know exactly how much money is in the fund — and hopefully see it increase with each passing year.

If you worked for a company less than two years, you are entitled to a full refund of your personal pension contributions, though this will be taxed at standard rates. 

If you were an employee for more than two years, you can transfer previous contributions to your new employer’s pension scheme or set up a PRB.

Find out what you’re entitled to by checking old pay slips or calling the accounts department of your former company. You may not even have realised that pension contributions were being deducted at source.

On leaving your employment, you should have received a statement of options regarding what you can and cannot do with your accumulated pension. This can take up to six months to arrive and can be confusing for employees who do not understand how pensions work.

You need to find out what type of pension you had, such as Defined Benefit (you are promised a set amount when you retire), Defined Contribution (depends on how much you paid in as well as the fund’s investment performance) or a hybrid of both.

It’s vital to seek expert advice if you decide to transfer from one scheme to another (especially if moving from a Defined Benefit to Defined Contribution plan). This is to ensure you are not giving up valuable guaranteed pension benefits.

You also need to talk to a financial advisor if you want to consolidate several different pensions into one fund.

The trustees of your old pension scheme will insist on proof of identity before giving you any information about your fund. Questions to ask them include: 

What is the current value of the pension pot and how much did you contribute to it?

What are the management charges?

Will there be a fee for transferring the pension to a different scheme?

What is the estimated income the pension pot will generate when you reach retirement?

What death benefits are there and who is the nominated recipient?

For example, imagine you’re a 33-year-old who is changing job and have built up a pension fund worth €15,000. This fund could be worth €35,000 by the time you retire aged 68 (there are no guarantees, of course).

At retirement, your options will include taking a lump sum of up to 150% of your final salary and using the balance to buy an annuity.

Or you can draw down up to 25% of your fund’s value and transfer the balance into an Approved Retirement Fund. You could also take a taxable lump sum.

If you’re having trouble tracking down old pensions, especially if you once worked in the UK or anywhere abroad, then Expert Pensions can provide all the assistance you need

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