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Do you know what your income will be in retirement and are you familiar with the benefits of Pillar 3? What will happen to your family if you can no longer work or if you die?

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Why take out private pension provision?

For most people, AHV/IV (OASI/IV) and BVG (OPA) benefits from Pillars 1and 2 are not enough to enable them to maintain their accustomed standard of living when they retire. The primary aim of private pension provision (Pillar 3) is to give you financial freedom when you retire. If you also opt for the Pillar 3a/3b retirement solution, you can avoid income gaps in retirement and benefit from various other financial advantages.

When should I start planning for retirement?

As with many things, the sooner, the better. Even small monthly sums can add up over the years. Most people set up a private pension as soon as they are on a stable monthly income.

Why are contributions from Pillars 1 and 2 not enough?

Although AHV (OASI) and Pillar 2 pensions do give you a basic income in retirement, the benefits from Pillars 1 and 2 only cover about 60% of your actual needs – fact is, most people require around 80% of their previous monthly salary to maintain their accustomed standard of living. So, it is unlikely that your Pillar 1 and 2 benefits will enable you to maintain the lifestyle you are accustomed to.

What is Pillar 3?

The Swiss pension system consists of three pillars: Pillar 1 (state coverage), Pillar 2 (occupational benefits insurance) and Pillar 3 (private pension provision). The main objective of Pillar 3 is to close any pension gaps. The Swiss pension system subdivides Pillar 3 into Pillar 3a (restricted pensions) and Pillar 3b (flexible pensions). 

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What is a pension gap?

A pension gap occurs when income and the financial options in retirement are no longer enough to maintain your accustomed standard of living. The rule of thumb is that you should have around 80% of your last gross salary available every month. If the amount paid out is less than 80%, then there is a pension gap.

How do I identify a pension gap?

An overview of AHV (OASI) payments already made as well as potential contribution gaps can be obtained from your cantonal social insurance office. The benefits from your occupational pension plan should also be taken into account in order to identify any pension gaps. We recommend consulting a pensions expert to obtain a comprehensive analysis of your personal retirement situation. They will show you the best way to prepare for retirement based on your individual financial situation and personal circumstances.

What can I do about a pension gap?

Depending on the reason for the pension gap, there are a number of solutions for avoiding it: To prevent loss of income due to disability or death, it is advisable to take out term life insurance or an occupational disability pension. To maintain your accustomed standard of living in retirement, you will also need to contribute to Pillar 3 (private pension provision) in addition to Pillars 1 (AHV / OASI) and 2 (occupational benefits insurance).

Frequently asked questions

  • How do I pay into Pillar 3?

    The maximum amount for Pillar 3a tax deductions is adjusted annually. For 2023/24 it is as follows:

    • Employees: a maximum of CHF 7,056.
    • Self-employed individuals with no pension fund: a maximum of CHF 35,280.
  • How can I save on tax with a private pension plan?

    The federal government promotes saving under Pillar 3 by providing generous tax advantages, letting you save significant amounts on taxes while building your nest egg.

    Pillar 3a in particular is considered to be a sensible measure for tax optimization and therefore saving.

    Tax advantages of Pillar 3a:

    • The annual premium is deducted from your taxable income (up to the legally defined maximum amount).
    • Earnings (interest and bonuses) are exempt from income tax during the term.
    • Lump-sum payouts are taxed at a reduced special rate.

    Tax advantages of Pillar 3b:

    • Periodically financed, endowment life insurance is exempt from income tax. Provided the following conditions are met, the same applies for life insurance financed by a single premium:
      • The policy was signed before the insured's 66th birthday.
      • The insured was 60 when the lump sum was paid out.
      • The policy pays out after five years at the earliest.
      • The policyholder and the insured are the same person.
    • Earnings (interest and bonuses) are exempt from income tax during the term.
  • What's the difference between Pillars 3a and 3b?

    Pillar 3 is ideal for saving money and providing for the future. A distinction is made between  restricted pension provision (Pillar 3a) and  flexible pension provision (Pillar 3b): Generally speaking, we recommend a combination of the two.

    • Pillar 3a aims to provide sufficient income in old age and is subject to legal provisions regarding annual incoming payments and the date of the payout. It can only be financed with premiums. However, the law permits only a limited amount to be paid into the plan each year. These contributions are tax deductible up to the maximum amount, although you can only draw them before retirement subject to certain conditions. Reasons for early withdrawal include the purchase of residential property, leaving Switzerland for good or drawing a full disability pension.
    • Pillar 3b is flexible regarding the term, beneficiaries and amount paid in. It can be financed with premiums or with a single payment. This capital can be withdrawn at any time, but there are no tax advantages.
  • Why should I opt for private pension provision from an insurance company?

    By opting for Pillar 3 from an insurance company, you are protecting yourself and your loved ones in the event of disability and death. In addition, with private pension provision from an insurance company, you are committed to making regular payments up to retirement age, which has a positive effect on the capital you accumulate as well as a compound interest effect. The differences are explained in detail in our article Building up a pension – a comparison of banks and insurance companies.

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