What happens to my pension savings when I leave a company?

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Kerensa Johnson

September 19, 2023

3 mins read

Ever switched jobs or thinking about it? Then it’s important to understand what happens to your pension savings whenever you leave a company.

Each time you start a new job, your employer will usually set up a pension plan for you automatically, thanks to pension auto-enrolment

This means that if you switch jobs several times throughout your working life, you could have quite a few pension pots to try to keep track of! It’s estimated that over 2.8 million pension pots, each worth an average of £9,470, are ‘lost’ in the UK. 

What happens to my pension savings when I leave my job?

When you leave your job, all the money that has been paid into your pension plan stays invested – and it belongs to you. 

Whilst your pension plan still exists, your ex-employer will no longer be paying into it after you leave. Your own automatic payments will stop as well. So, other than any investment fund performance, your pension pot will remain relatively static. Remember, the value of investments can go down as well as up and you may get back less than was paid in.

You’ll keep paying charges too, meaning you could end up paying a charge for each pension pot you have. And these charges could eat away at any growth your pension plans achieve.

You may still be able to make your own payments to your pension plan. But you’ll need to arrange this directly with your pension provider – it won’t happen automatically.

Don’t forget, if there’s a change in your circumstances, such as moving house, you’ll need to let your pension provider know. And make sure your providers have your personal email address. This will help them keep in touch with you if you leave your job and lose access to your old work email.

Updating your details will help make sure you still receive important communications.

Can I set up a new pension plan after I leave my job?

Yes – whether you’re moving into a new job or not, you have options for setting up a new pension plan.

What happens if I move into a new job?

Remember, when you switch jobs, your new employer may set up a new pension plan (known as a workplace pension plan) for you. 

What are my pension options if I’m not moving into a new job?

If you’re not moving into a new job or won’t have access to a workplace pension for some time, it’s worth checking if you’re still able to pay into your old plan from your previous employer. If this isn’t possible or your old plan doesn’t meet your retirement-saving needs, you can look into setting up a new plan yourself. These are known as personal pension plans. 

How do I find a pension plan from a previous employer?

There are a few ways you can find lost pension plans.

You could try to find the original paperwork from when you joined the scheme. This relies on you still having the paperwork and knowing where to find it.

Another option is to get in touch with your old employers and ask them who your pension provider was when you worked there.

You can also use the government’s Pension Tracing Service. Here, you can track down both workplace and personal pensions by entering the names and addresses of your previous employers, or the names of your old pension providers. 

I’ve had multiple jobs – can I transfer my pension plans?

Yes, you can. When you’ve found all your pension plans, you might want to consider bringing them all together by transferring them into a single plan. This can be helpful for a few reasons. 

  • Less admin: Bringing your pension pots together means you only need to let one provider know about changes to your circumstances. 
  • Easier to track performance: With all your pension plans in one place, it can be much easier to see if you’re on track for the retirement you want.
  • Lower charges: By transferring your pension plans, you could potentially benefit from lower charges. This won’t always be the case, so do check your pension plan’s charges. 

Remember, transferring other pension plans will not be right for everyone, and you could lose valuable benefits and guarantees. There is no guarantee that you will get more as a result of transferring. You need to consider all the facts before deciding if it's right for you. It’s best to check with a financial adviser if you’re unsure. If you don’t have a financial adviser, you can find one at Unbiased. You can check if an adviser has been authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on FCA.org.uk.

You can find out more about pension transfers in our pension transfer guide

Transfer your pension plans 

Combining your pensions with Standard Life

Had more than one job and found yourself with more than one plan? Transferring them into a single Standard Life plan could help you feel more in control of your financial future.

We won’t charge you to bring your pension plans together. You’ll have access to our online servicing and highly rated app, so you can check in on your plan and make changes to it anytime, anywhere. And we offer a range of flexible investment options to suit you – whether you’d rather choose your own investments or have the work done for you.

The information in this article is based on our understanding in September 2023 and should not be regarded as financial advice.

Standard Life accepts no responsibility for information in external websites. These are provided for general information.

The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may get back less than was paid in.

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