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Reuniting investors with lost investments and inheritances

What happens when you don’t keep track of all your accounts?

A magnifying glass examines a city

It can be incredibly easy to lose track of your money, whether it’s in a bank account, pension, investment, life insurance policy or child trust fund. There can be so much to remember, so it’s not surprising. In fact, it’s estimated that as many as 20 million people in the UK have forgotten about, or been separated from, more than £15 billion across a variety of account types.1,2

These accounts are known as dormant accounts and they’re quite common, as many people lose track of what they have, move home without updating their address, and even inherit unknowingly. Many providers are now trying to locate ‘lost’ owners with varied results, but doing so is not just best practice, but also demonstrates high levels of governance and investor care.

Reuniting investors

One of the UK’s longest-established investment trusts, Alliance Trust, takes its responsibility to investors seriously and has been doing its part to reunite investors with sometimes life-changing sums of money. Henry is just one of the investors the Trust has helped recently.

When Henry’s wife, Naomi, sadly passed away 22 years ago, he had no idea she owned Alliance Trust shares. They had been a gift from her father and had flown under the radar for over two decades. Alliance Trust, as part of a proactive programme to find investment owners, accessed Naomi’s will and discovered her husband’s name. The company then used LinkedIn to get in touch and let Henry know that 8,700 shares (and £16,500 in dividends) were his to claim.

“Once the whole process is done and dusted, the money will go to our children who are now young adults, and will help towards deposits for their first flats.” Henry says.

Being proactive is key

Alliance Trust takes an active, personal approach to reuniting people with lost shares. In fact, it’s an investment trust that does a lot of the hard work for DIY investors. The company’s investment strategy is designed to be a core holding for every portfolio, whatever your stage in life. 

Trusted by generations since 1888, the company’s multi-manager approach aims to add value by including only the managers’ very best ideas in the portfolio, with the intention of outperforming the world stock market 3 (while shielding you from some of the risks of active investing by spreading capital across eight skilled stock pickers).

“The most important role of an independent board of directors for an investment trust is to protect shareholders,” explains Clare Dobie, Director of Alliance Trust. “We not only oversee investments, but also ensure shareholders are treated fairly. 

“At Alliance Trust we have a programme for tracking down dormant shareholders. We are always delighted when we reunite them with their lost assets. It’s particularly pleasing to see shares passed down the generations and retained for the long term.”

Tracking down dormant accounts

Even if you don’t think you’ve lost or forgotten any accounts, here are some ways you can be proactive too and keep your affairs in order:

  • If you move house, make sure you provide your new address to every financial services provider you have dealings with – including the ones you rarely hear from or contact.
  • If you change your bank account, check bank statements over the previous year to ensure you have updated every organisation that pays into your account or that you make payments to.
  • Maintain a paper or online record of your investments and insurance policies, including account numbers. If company names change or you switch to a new provider, update the topsheet.
  • Even if you already have a workplace pension into which you’re making contributions, consider setting up a SIPP (Self-Invested Personal Pension) account where you can consolidate any pensions from previous jobs. The government’s free Pension Tracing Service may be able to help you find any you have lost the details for, but this is an area where it really is important to hang on to the paperwork.
  • One way of managing your affairs, which is also designed to make life straightforward for the executors of your estate after you die, is to make use of the List pals app. It’s free to download from listpals.com.

Find out more about Alliance Trust at alliancetrust.co.uk

1. https://www.gretel.co.uk/media-centre, press release 17/11/2020

2. https://www.uar.co.uk/Help/AboutLostAssets

3. MSCI All Country World Index.

When investing, your capital is at risk. The value of your investment may rise or fall as a result of market fluctuations and you might get back less than you invested.

Alliance Trust PLC is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is registered in Scotland No SC1731. Registered office, River Court, 5 West Victoria Dock Road, Dundee DD1 3JT. Alliance Trust PLC gives no financial or investment advice.

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