Don’t let a career move hurt your pension pot

Pensions and retirement
Views & insights

Multiple job changes could reduce the value of your pension at retirement. We explain how to ensure your plans stay on track


25 March 2022 | 4 minute read

If you’re among the one in four UK employees who are planning on changing jobs in the next few months1, then it’s really important to consider the impact this could have on your pension savings.

You might not realise it, but multiple job moves over the course of your career could reduce the value of your pension pot at retirement. Read on to find out how a career move could affect your pension, and what you could do to avoid a shortfall in your savings.

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How could a job change affect my pension?

When you change jobs, your new employer may postpone your enrolment into its workplace pension scheme by up to three months, meaning your pension contributions will temporarily cease. Stopping pension contributions for three months might not seem like a big deal, but if you change jobs frequently this could really add up and make a significant dent in your pension pot.

Let’s imagine someone switched jobs every five years with a three-month contribution break at each job change. Our analysis reveals the projected value of their pension at age 67 would be nearly £21,000 less than if they had remained with the same employer. This assumes they earn the median salary for each age group throughout their career2, with a 5% personal pension contribution, a 3% employer contribution, and an average annual growth rate of 5% after charges and before inflation.

Five changes overall – two in your 20s and one each in your 30s, 40s, and 50s – could create a deficit of around £15,000. Meanwhile, ten job changes – three in your 20s and 30s, and two each in your 40s and 50s – could result in a shortfall of nearly £30,000.

Bear in mind these figures don’t take into account the fact that your new job might pay a better salary, and so your pension contributions could automatically increase when you join the new scheme. (This isn’t always the case because it depends on the type of pension scheme you’re in, as this article explains.) On the flipside, while some jobs might come with a better salary, the pension could be less generous than your existing scheme.

What can I do to avoid a shortfall?

Given the impact job changes could have, it’s important to consider some of the steps you could take now to avoid a potential shortfall in the future. These include:

1. Request to join the scheme earlier

Although employers are allowed to delay auto-enrolment by up to three months, they must enrol you straight away if you ask. Workplace pension schemes are extremely valuable and so this is well worth doing. You benefit from personal and employer contributions, as well as tax relief on personal contributions, all of which can add up to a sizeable sum over the long term.

2. Increase your contributions

If you moved around a lot at the beginning of your career, you could try increasing your pension contributions now to try to make up for any shortfall. A financial adviser can help you work out how much you need to save into your pension each month to build up a big enough pot at retirement.

3. Check where your pension is invested

The value of your pension at retirement doesn’t just depend on how much money you invest, but also on where you invest it. If you don’t actively choose a fund when you join the workplace scheme, your contributions may be automatically invested in the scheme’s default fund, which might not suit your individual needs. For example, if you have a few decades to go until retirement, you may wish to consider investing in a higher-risk fund offering greater long-term growth potential for some or all of your pension savings. Again, a financial adviser can help you choose the right fund for your circumstances.

4. Consider combining your pension pots

If you’ve worked for several employers throughout your career and accumulated multiple pension plans, it can be difficult to keep track of how much you’ve saved and where your money is invested. Consolidating your pensions into one pot could help you manage your finances more easily, while potentially benefitting from better investment growth and lower charges. However, there are drawbacks to be aware of, so make sure you have your pension plans thoroughly assessed by an adviser before you take the plunge.

Next steps

It’s easy to neglect your pension when you’re embarking on a career move, but taking the time to consider the impact on your future finances is well worth it. Pension saving isn’t something you want to get wrong, which is where financial advice comes in. An adviser can help you understand how much you should be investing, and how to close any savings gaps, so you can feel confident you’re on track to meet your goals. For smart advice that’s tailored to your individual circumstances, speak to one of our financial advisers today.

1 Randstad survey of 6,000 UK adults

The value of investments, and any income from them, can fall and you may get back less than you invested. Neither simulated nor actual past performance are reliable indicators of future performance. Tax treatment depends on the individual circumstances of each client and may be subject to change in the future. Information is provided only as an example and is not a recommendation to pursue a particular strategy. Information contained in this document is believed to be reliable and accurate, but without further investigation cannot be warranted as to accuracy or completeness.

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