Home Money How can I locate a long-lost pension? Steve Webb’s Top Five Tips for Finding Old Pots

How can I locate a long-lost pension? Steve Webb’s Top Five Tips for Finding Old Pots

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Scavenger hunt: Steve Webb tracks down a long-lost pension for a This is Money reader

I built up a small business pension in the mid-1980s at a company called Intercontinental Medical Statistics.

I tried all conventional methods to trace this money but without success.

The question I would like to ask is why, when I have an Employee Benefit Statement from a British insurance company, can I not track the pension?

The difficulty appears to arise from the fact that the insurance company in question, Norwich Union, no longer exists.

However, it is known that NU’s pension assets were absorbed, it’s just that no one can tell me who controls them now. I wonder how many others are in this difficulty.


Scavenger hunt: Steve Webb tracks down a long-lost pension for a This is Money reader

Steve Webb responds: As you know, you contacted us about this missing pension before Christmas and since then we have been on a detective search spanning multiple pension providers, multiple pension administrators and even multiple continents.

By sharing her story, I hope we can help other people locate their missing pensions, although the search for her pension continues to this day.

Tip 1. Start with the paperwork

The best place to start looking for a lost pension is always any official documentation you have.

This can include vital details such as policy figures which make the task of tracking down lost pensions much easier. This is why it is vital that, even today, people retain all correspondence relating to their pensions rather than throwing it away.

In your case, you have a declaration from 1986 showing that you had a workplace pension managed by Norwich Union.

Norwich Union changed their name in 2009 to Aviva, so we started by contacting them.

Do you have a question for Steve Webb? Scroll down to find out how to contact you.

Do you have a question for Steve Webb? Scroll down to find out how to contact you.

The paperwork also mentioned that Canada Life provided life insurance under the plan, so you contacted them as well, but unfortunately the company had no records on you.

Tip 2. Follow the people who manage your pension

Aviva was helpful and responded by saying that a couple of years after their statement was issued, back in 1988, this plan was moved.

The investments were moved to a company called Confederation Life (which we will talk about later), and the administration and records went to a company called Willis Consulting.

As there is now a large pension consultancy firm called Willis Towers Watson, it seemed worth going there to see if it had any records.

WTW kindly responded by saying that the Willis Consulting business was sold in 1996 to another company called Buck Consulting.

I contacted Buck, who told us about some rather complicated arrangements whereby in 1993 the IMS pension plan was incorporated by another plan – the Dun & Bradstreet plan – but in 1997 there was a split.

Buck only manages the Dun & Bradstreet plan and said another company, Capita, appears to manage the IMS (UK) plan.

Tip 3. Try the Government pension tracking service

If you type “lost pension trace” into a search engine, you will be offered many commercial tracing services.

It is vital that, even today, people retain all correspondence relating to their pensions rather than throwing it away.

However the The government offers a pension monitoring service (quite limited) which is essentially a kind of glorified phone book.

The Government site asks several questions and attempts to identify an up-to-date contact.

In the case of his former employer, a search on the government site (which is free) also pointed us to Capita, the same company Buck suggested.

Unfortunately, however, when he contacted Capita he simply told him that he had no record of a pension in his name. So it seemed like a dead end.

It turns out that it appears that the Government’s pension monitoring service scheme was only for people who worked for your company after 1997, so this is not the scheme you had any rights to.

Tip 4. Follow the money

Having drawn a blank when tracing the records and administration of the scheme, it seemed worth trying to find where the money had gone.

We had been told that the policy was transferred to Confederation Life but it turns out that it went into liquidation in 1994.

The liquidator was a well-known company called KPMG and he directed him to a Canadian company which KPMG claimed had bought Confederation Life’s pensions business.

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However, when the Canadian company dug into its files it discovered that it had only purchased the Canadian policies from Confederation Life, and that the UK policies had been purchased by a company called Sun Life of Canada.

A little research into Sun Life of Canada (UK) revealed that it had recently been acquired by a company called Phoenix, which owns a large number of what are known in the pensions industry as “legacy” pension policies.

Phoenix responded very quickly to our questions, but said it had searched its records and couldn’t find any reference to its old plan.

Tip 5. Use your own networks

Having left all of these avenues blank, we discussed whether he was still in contact with anyone he was working with at the time.

It would take just one person who received a pension from the scheme today to find the contact details and, hopefully, find their lost pension.

Unfortunately, you worked in the company for about 40 years and have already lost contact with former colleagues.

Conclusion: don’t give up

I know you’ve been trying to locate your pension for over a decade and it’s great that you haven’t given up.

We certainly have a clearer idea of ​​some of the history of what’s happened since the mid-1980s, although ultimately we’ve still hit a brick wall.

But even going through all the letters we’ve received has given me one or two last avenues to try.

Hopefully for many people the story of losing their pension will be much less complicated than yours and some of this advice will help them locate the money that is rightfully theirs.

I will talk more about how to track down missing pension funds on ITV’s Tonight show airing this Thursday (April 18) at 8.30pm on ITV1.

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Ask Steve Webb a question about pensions

Former Pensions Minister Steve Webb is This Is Money’s agony uncle.

He’s ready to answer your questions, whether you’re still saving, in the process of quitting working, or juggling your finances in retirement.

Steve left the Department for Work and Pensions after the May 2015 election. He is now a partner at actuarial and consulting firm Lane Clark & ​​Peacock.

If you would like to ask Steve a question about pensions, email him at pensionquestions@thisismoney.co.uk.

Steve will do his best to respond to your message in a future column, but will not be able to respond to everyone or correspond privately with readers. Nothing in his answers constitutes regulated financial advice. Posted questions are sometimes edited for brevity or other reasons.

Please include a daytime contact number with your message; This will be kept confidential and will not be used for marketing purposes.

If Steve can’t answer your question, you can also contact MoneyHelper, a government-backed organization that provides free pensions support to the public. can be found here and its number is 0800 011 3797.

steveWe receive many questions about state pension forecasts and COPE (the outsourced pension equivalent). If you write to Steve about this topic, he answers a typical reader question about COPE and the state pension here.

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