New research reported by This is Money estimates that more than 20 million people have unclaimed money sitting in inactive and dormant accounts.
Forgotten money experts Gretel estimates that roughly £50 million is lying unclaimed in forgotten accounts. These forgotten accounts can range from pensions and investments to unclaimed Child Trust Funds.
With the cost of living crisis not likely to improve any time soon, now could be the perfect opportunity for you to find your forgotten savings and boost your wealth with a little windfall.
Read on to discover how you can track down your “lost” accounts.
Why does forgotten money happen?
You may think that you would never lose track of a pension or an account, but it is easy, especially in the early days of your career, when finances might not have been at the forefront of your mind.
On average, as an IT professional, you will likely change employers approximately six times by the time you reach 44. If you had a different pension provider at each workplace, it may be easy to forget one, especially if you change your address. The pension provider will no longer be able to keep in touch and the pension will become an unclaimed or lost asset.
Major life changes such as marriage, divorce or deaths within the family can also lead to unclaimed assets and forgotten bank accounts. Gretel suggests there is £4.5 billion in forgotten bank accounts, up to £37 billion in missing or unclaimed pensions and £4.8 billion in forgotten investments and unclaimed life insurance policies.
With so much money abandoned and Age UK stating that people that successfully trace their money on average retrieve up to £1,000, here is how you can find any lost assets.
Finding lost pensions
Make a list of the companies you worked for and whether you paid into a pension with them.
Since 2012, larger companies that employed you would likely have auto-enrolled you into a pension. A smaller company may not have auto-enrolled you until 2017.
Once you have this list, contact your old employers to obtain details of the pension administrators. You should then contact the pension providers to track down any “lost” accounts.
Additionally, the government has its own pension tracing service. The Pension Tracing Service can find contact details for previous workplace or personal pension schemes. However, to use the search, you need the name of your past employer or the name of the pension provider.
The Pension Tracing Service will only find the contact details for previous workplaces or personal pension schemes; it will not tell you whether you have a pension or what the value of the pension is.
Finding lost bank accounts and savings
Contact a bank or building society directly if you think you have a dormant account.
However, if you do not know what bank or building society you used or have no further details, My Lost Account should be able to help you.
The website is free and can investigate whether you have accounts with most UK banks, all UK building societies, and many National Savings & Investments (NS&I) products. This service can take up to three months to trace your money.
Finding lost insurance policies
According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), there is £2 billion sitting in unclaimed and forgotten life insurance policies in the UK.
If a loved one has died and you are not sure if they had life insurance, check any old bank statements for details of any payments to an insurance company.
Alternatively, contact a solicitor or an accountant you or the deceased worked with in the past, as they might have those details on file.
If you have a life insurance policy and you have the policy document, but you cannot contact the insurer, it is possible that the company may have changed its name or been bought by another insurer.
If so, using the online search Policy Detective can help you establish what happened to an insurer. It also provides contact information for the institution or its successor.
Finding lost investments
As a busy professional, you may have lost track of shares or investments.
If you know the details of the company you have shares in, contact the company itself to obtain a new share certificate.
If you have no idea of the company you have invested in, share registrars such as Computershare and Equiniti can help, but they may charge a fee to search for held shares.
If you think you have Premium Bonds or other NS&I savings, you can use the NS&I’s tracing service. If you have access to your Premium Bond account numbers, contact NS&I and they will send you a form to claim any prizes you are owed.
Finding a Child Trust Fund
The government set up more than 6 million child trust funds for children born between September 2002 and January 2011, which children can access when they turn 18.
To access the fund for your child, you can contact the Child Trust Fund provider directly with the unique reference number for your child or their National Insurance number.
If you do not know the Child Trust Fund provider, you can use the online search on the government website.
Get in touch
With £50 billion languishing in unclaimed or lost assets, tracking down lost accounts can give your wealth a useful boost.
If you would like to find out how we help IT professionals to create a financial plan aligned with your goals, please get in touch today. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01275 462 469.
This article is no substitute for financial advice and should not be treated as such. To determine the best course of action for your individual circumstances, please contact us.
Bowmore Financial Planning Ltd is authorised and regulated by the FCA.