Many people dream of ending their employee status to become self-employed – but are fearful of insecurity and financial bottlenecks. Don't be scared! Solid pension arrangements are also possible for the self-employed.
Congratulations! You've made the leap into self-employment and are starting your own business. You're full of enthusiasm and are highly motivated, but there are a lot of questions swirling around. Do you have enough start-up capital? Will my business idea work? And what if something happens to me?
In your situation, that is actually one of the most important questions. This is because as a business owner, you enjoy a great deal of freedom when it comes to pensions, but you also have a great deal of responsibility to bear for yourself and your family. You should therefore not leave anything to chance when it comes to protecting your income.
Pillar 1 of the pension system (federal old-age and survivors’ insurance, disability insurance, loss of earnings compensation scheme and family allowances) is compulsory for everyone, but you have to register yourself. To do so, contact the cantonal compensation office where your company is based.
Anything else is theoretically optional for you as a business owner, but there are definite recommendations. In terms of retirement provision and protection against long-term inability to work, Pillars 2 and/or 3 are imperative. Although daily benefits insurance and accident insurance are voluntary, they are a matter of course in Switzerland. The financial risk is too great should you have an accident or not be able to work for a long period due to illness.
Consult our self-employment page for an overview and further information on insurance options. Use the insurance check for SMEs to find out in just three minutes which insurance types could be a good idea for your SME.
The pension system in Switzerland is based on three pillars: state, occupational and private provision. The system aims to ensure that people are financially secure in old age, if they become disabled or if someone they depend on dies.
The compulsory Pillar 1, also referred to as state pension, comprises federal old-age and survivors’ insurance (OASI), disability insurance (DI), and supplementary insurance (SI). It aims to secure livelihood.
Pillar 2, also called pension fund, comprises occupational benefits insurance (OPA) and accident insurance (AI). For employees with an annual salary of at least CHF 22,050 (as at 2023), it's compulsory and is the employer's responsibility. Together with Pillar 1, it was originally supposed to maintain the accustomed standard of living after retirement. As this is no longer realistic in most cases these days, private pension provision has greatly increased in significance.
Those wishing to make private provision pay contributions into Pillar 3. This is a voluntary and flexible supplement to state pensions and occupational benefits insurance that can be used to plug pension gaps. It is paid out as a pension and/or in capital. There is a difference between tied (Pillar 3a) and flexible pension provision (Pillar 3b).
As a business owner, you are responsible for your own retirement provision. You should definitely join an OPA institution at your own instigation and/or make regular contributions into Pillar 3a or 3b, otherwise you risk facing a pension gap after retirement. AXA offers various pension solutions for companies and an attractive pension plan for private persons.
Yes, unless they are switching their pension to Pillar 3a/3b entirely. Many owners of sole proprietorships, general or limited partnerships voluntarily join a pension foundation. Does your sector or industry association have its own pension fund perhaps? An alternative to this is always the OPA National Substitute Pension Plan Foundation. This non-profit organization is the only pension institution in Switzerland that provides benefits for all interested individuals on behalf of the federal government, but only the mandatory minimum.
There's a special case: if you set up a company limited by shares (AG) or a limited liability company (GmbH), you’re considered to be an employee of your own firm for insurance purposes. Your pension fund assets must then be transferred into the new pension fund.
Is your pension provision in tune with your needs, in respect of your professional life and retirement? Are you currently able to save for later? Weigh up the strengths and weaknesses of the various options and calmly consider what makes sense in your situation. Joining a pension fund? Making regular payments into a Pillar 3a account? Or is loss of earnings your greatest risk? Discuss your personal goals with a pension advisor. If you haven't yet found the pension solution that suits you best, we're here to support you. Contact us.