When we founded Punter Southall 35 years ago, people being separated from their pensions was much less of an issue - if one at all - than it is today.
Much of that is because it was the defined benefit (DB) era. If you were working, your pension was looked after by the trustee board and your employer and you were far less likely to change jobs in a way that has become the 21st century norm.
But it was at this point that what looked like a settled picture began to change more rapidly. This was the beginning of a period when, in mergers and acquisitions, at least, owners were closing DB schemes and offering defined contribution (DC) alternatives and their numbers mushroomed.
Fast forward to 2023 and, on average, people have eight jobs and move house 11 times, which are considered to be the main reasons they lose touch with pensions worth nearly £27 billion.
Pension companies have always expended time, effort and money in seeking to reunite people with their savings, especially as society and the economy has become more fluid. Tracing them has become, over the years, another well-established segment in our industry.
To support this ongoing effort, Punter Southall created National Pension Tracing Day as a further nudge to the good work already going on. For those that don’t know, the premise is that you spend the hour gained by the clocks going back – on the Sunday just gone – to delve into that which is often shelved: your pensions.
Now in its third year, we’ve also enrolled the companies who compete against each other to come together to back the campaign.
The fact that media financial luminaries such as Martin Lewis have also referenced it as an opportunity to potentially find thousands of pounds you didn’t know you had is testament to its growing impact.
In a time when everything, from working to saving, is more individualised and often online, being able to turn our experience and reputation towards helping even more people to see clearly pots they might have forgotten or overlooked, is something of which we’re very proud.
The fact that a few clicks can set you on the path to finding just how much your pension(s) can provide is something far removed from where we were back in the 1980s.
Punter Southall began life because the shift from wardrobe-sized mainframe computers to desktop PCs opened up what had previously been an actuarial market dominated by big firms.
We took our opportunity and by marrying know-how to technological innovation, have thrived ever since.
On a different scale and by using what’s now everyday technology, National Pension Tracing Day is now a firm fixture in the calendar.
If more people take a keener interest in what their retirement holds as a result, that’s something we’ve always worked towards.