A typical working pattern for most people means they are likely to have many different jobs during their working lifetime. It is also common to have various pension arrangements from the time in each job.
So people can end up with multiple pension pots scattered around and without any form of joined-up strategy towards them. This is because the pensions have not been coordinated around a specific approach but simply accumulated with jobs. This or something similar may represent your position and if it does you may wish to consider consolidating your pensions.
Pension consolidation is when you decide to bring your pensions together into one plan. This can be attractive and comes with several possible advantages.
It is always worth looking carefully at both charges and performance as any improvement can have major impact. Take the example of a pension which has £10,000 as its current value with charges attached to it of 2% per year in the future it produces an investment return of 4% per year in 30 years time that pension will have grown to £18,114.
Now compare this to another £10,000 pension, which grows at 6% with charges of 1.5% per year. In 30 years this will be worth £37,453
Consolidating combines easier management less paperwork less to keep track of with potentially better overall terms. To consolidate past pensions into one plan is often attractive but before doing so you should be wary of some potential disadvantages.
If any of your pensions were a defined benefit pension scheme, they would probably have a minimum or guaranteed income at retirement which is difficult to replace and you should generally be very cautious about moving this type of pension.
In a similar way some older schemes regardless of their type may have other forms of guarantee, which could be valuable. And many older schemes of any type could have transfer penalties which would mean you pay a cost for moving them to your new scheme.
You will note that this is not a simple decision because the devil is in the detail and whether to transfer any pension, or whether consolidation is a good or bad idea is very much dependent on your specific circumstances.
Of course consolidating can be applied to some of your past pensions, it doesn’t have to be all of them. For example, if you have 5 old pensions there is nothing to stop you merging 4 and leaving one where it is possibly because of its guarantees which you would want to keep.
There are many times when consolidating makes perfect sense, but it is not always the case and you should carefully check the terms on your past pensions and use an expert to help and advise you.