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How to find and combine old pensions

Annabel Fay | Saturday 25th January, 2020

The world has gone a bit crazy recently. A lot of us freelancers have had some financial shockwaves as a response to the Coronavirus outbreak- you can read about Penfold’s response to COVID-19 here.

Penfold have very kindly decided to waive admin fees until September 2020 for all pension balances under £25,000 as a small gesture to self-employed customers who may be struggling during the Coronavirus crisis.

As I’ve been looking at my business over the last few weeks, I’ve been doing some financial housekeeping. Nothing like a pandemic to make you realise the importance of saving.

One of the things I’ve been doing is looking at my retirement pots and consolidating them into one. It’s a whole lot less scary than watching the news. Although I can’t promise it’s fun, it at least made me feel like I had a little bit more control.

Just a warning - the current climate means pension values have dropped considerably. As responsible people, we just wanted to highlight that transferring out of existing pensions may mean selling investments at a lower value.

Make sure you consider everything before making any decisions. 

What are the benefits of combining them?

As we wrote in this blog post, having all of your pots together means that you can easily see how much is in your pension for retirement.

Instead of logging on to lots of different places, your total pensions savings are all there in one place, giving you greater visibility of how much you have and how much more you need to save.

As pension providers charge all different types of fees, you may also end up saving some money on pension fees. Overall, it’s just much simpler and easier having them in one place.

So how do you do it?

1. Make a list of your old employers

Get a pen and paper out and make a list of everyone you’ve ever worked for. Go right back to the beginning, because you never know. I discovered, during this process, that 18-year-old me was actually paying a tiny bit of my £6 an hour shop job wage into a pension.


Write a list of every employer you’ve ever had. This can actually be quite fun, I had a good time reminiscing about the time I taught presentation skills to students, the time I was responsible for restocking babygrows, and my 3-month stint in Starbucks.

Jot them all down, no matter how short. 

2. Get your paperwork box out

This part was not fun. I recommend coffee and a good playlist. Gather all of your payslips and anything that looks vaguely like pension paperwork, and put it in a pile.

I had this box under my bed that had a section for pensions and all it had in it was my collection of swimming badges. Not particularly useful for retirement planning, but I can swim 1000 metres unaided apparently.

Try and find everything you can; what else are you going to do? You can’t go out. Have a fun Friday night with pension paperwork.

Then you can start playing match-up. Try and match the pensions to your employer list. Use your payslips to see if there were any pension deductions. It’s a bit like a treasure hunt. 

3. Send some messages

When trying to find your old pensions,  you can also email any people in HR you might still be friends with, your previous boss, or do a search of your email inbox and see if it was listed in any onboarding documents you received. 

Ask  your previous employer  for your pension provider and your reference number. If they can’t find the reference number, try contacting the provider, they might be able to find it based on your name and national insurance number.

You can also use the government pension tracking service and search for your old employer.

What you ideally want for each employer is the name of the pension provider, i.e Scottish Widows, Aviva, etc, and a policy number. Don’t worry if you can’t find everything, just find as much as you possibly can. 

4. Review your pension before deciding to transfer them

I know, more homework.

However, deciding to combine your pension pots is a personal choice, and you might want to consider any withdrawal fees, guarantees included and the value of your pots. It’s a bit annoying, but some pension plans have added advantages (known as guarantees) that you wouldn’t want to miss out on by switching, so make sure you review everything and be smart. 

If you are unsure if your current pension offers any advantages (guarantees), you should contact them and check before deciding to transfer your pension. Ensure it is the right decision for you. You can read a bit more about this and some examples in one of our previous blogs

5.Send them to us!

Once you join Penfold, should you wish to combine your old pension pots, you can request via our website and we will take over from there,  and combine them into one, easy to see, easy to use online system.

Having everything in one place makes it easy to see what you’ve got, and it’s one less thing off the financial housekeeping list. And with the admin fees waived for this challenging time, you can start topping it up again when you’re ready. 

Stay safe and healthy. Join Penfold here. 


(With pensions, as with all investments your capital is at risk. The value of what you put in may go up as well as down. This blog does not constitute financial advice).

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