Pillar 3a: Providers To Consider

Updated: Mar 19

Although I am planning on retiring much earlier than the traditional retirement age of 65+, I've spent considerable time on researching how the pillar system works here in Switzerland. I opened my original pillar 3a years ago without fully understanding what its purpose is; I only understood that it would give me certain tax advantages. With better understanding, I also balk at the fact that median pension for Swiss women is around CHF1221 a month paid out from the Swiss 1st and 2nd pillars.

To help counteract this fact, below I've laid out certain pillar 3a providers which I think are worthy of consideration (there are many more available -- these are just the ones that are the most interesting to me!). If you want to open your first 3a pillar as a first step into investing, want to move it, or simply open additional accounts to diversify and hedge against a low retirement pension, read on.

**You have until December 29, 2021 to open a pillar 3a account to take advantage of a tax reduction on your 2021 taxes!**

SELMA: GET CHF50 plus CHF34 with CODE: ad406aa26

With Selma's chat bot, you get a personalized plan for your financial situation. She'll ask you about your finances, plans, existing investments and risk appetite. Selma recommends one of six pillar 3a investment strategies for you and shows the strategies' expected returns. Based on this information, you can then freely choose which strategy your pillar 3a should follow. Opening an account online is very easy and when you sign up and fund your account with at least CHF5000 before 29 December 2021, you'll receive CHF50 plus CHF34 in management fees waived! Just use my code: ad406aa26. Onboarding is easily done through Selma's app or website.

Selma has teamed up with VZ Vermögenszentrum and created a pillar 3a solution that lets you:

  • open with a minimum deposit of CHF500 (but you'll need to deposit at least CHF5000 to get the CHF50 bonus!).

  • save money as VZ Vermögenszentrum is constantly refining the choice of investment products to keep costs low and return high. The minimum fee is set at 0.68%. If you already have a Selma investment account and combine it with their Selma pillar 3a account, this could put you into a lower fee tier, thus saving you more money.

  • invest in up to 97% in stocks. Higher percentage of stocks means also higher risks -- but could also translate into higher return. You can change your stock allocation at any time with Selma: just update your investor profile or contact the lovely team at Selma.

  • breathe easy as your investment stays in a separate bank account at VZ Vermögenszentrum.

  • move your pillar 3a to or from another provider for free and without complications.

  • ping the Selma crew via live chat with any question. Their customer service support is amazing!

WHY: I already have Selma pillar 3a account and did so because I'd get a reduced fee due to Selma's tiered fee schedule that combines both accounts. I find their fees already reasonable and their customer service support is stellar. Also, getting an additional CHF50 is a nice bonus as well as your first 12 months of fees waived with my code! (offer valid until 29 Dec 2021)

finpension: First Crypto Pillar 3a Account

finpension recently announced its offer to invest into cryptocurrency with a 5% exposure with their pillar3a solution! Besides its stable of six investment strategies with an equity share of 0, 20, 40, 60, 80 and 100 percent, finpension's pillar 3a invests up to 5% of assets into its Crypto Market Index Fund. Rebalancing takes place weekly, on the second banking day of each week to make sure to capture any profits and/or dispose of low performance quickly (crypto moves fast). Onboarding is simply done through finpension's app or website.

Besides the crypto exposure, finpension offers:

  • no minimum deposit required to open an account

  • lowest fees: flat rate of 0.39% plus vat

  • no margin fee charges for foreign exchanges (which means finpension doesn't take a cut)

  • no commission charges when buying or selling shares

  • better performance thanks to exemption from foreign taxes on dividends

  • faster investing of transfers and deposits thanks to weekly trading

  • efficiency thanks to advance payment of withholding tax reclaim

Fees can cut heavily into any returns you might get -- check out finpension's calculator to see just how much 1% could make a difference over time.

WHY: finpension created an innovative way to get exposure to the crypto market with this pillar 3a solution at a super price. It's particularly an interesting solution if one doesn't have crypto exposure from other investments already and wants a very hands-off approach to entering this volatile market. In addition, finpension has some of the lowest fees in the industry!

VIAC: No-fuss Pillar 3a

VIAC is a product of the Terzo Pension Foundation of WIR Bank manages over 1 billion Swiss francs of existing 3a assets for its clients. It's a simple, no fuss solution pillar 3a with the easiest onboarding process via their app -- 8 minutes to complete with just your phone and ID. With VIAC, you can choose a strategy that's composed of an interest-bearing account up to 97% in equities, broadly diversified with index funds. You can adjust your investment strategy at any time for free. VIAC also gives you DIY solution for your pillar 3:a you can create your individual strategy from over 40 index funds and ETFs. More flexibility without higher costs.

With VIAC, you get a no fuss pillar 3a:

  • that you can open with as little as CHF1 !

  • low fees: fees range from 0.00% to 0.53% depending on the strategy you choose and no extra fees for commissions, performance fees or closing fees etc are charged.

  • with a bit of extra: For every CHF 10’000 invested in securities, you get an additional CHF 2’500 free of charge in base protection in case of disability or death.

  • gets you more return: VIAC invests via withholding tax-exempt funds or the direct credit of the Swiss withholding tax, for maximum return.

  • that's flexible: create your individual strategy from over 40 index funds and ETFs, that includes sustainable and Swiss investment strategies.

  • with a free of charge interest-bearing account, so you don't shoulder losses with negative-yielding bonds.

WHY: VIAC offers a simple pillar 3a solution that gives you full flexibility. If you want to keep mostly cash in your account, no problem. If you want to change to a more sustainable approach with 97% (max) in stocks, you can do so. If you want a more Swiss focused or global focused strategy, no problem. You want to pick your own funds, they've got that, too. VIAC is very transparent in their fee structure for each of their strategies and yet you get a bit of extra if you're looking for a base protection in case of disability or death.

INYOVA: Get on the waitlist!

Inyova is also launching a pillar 3a solution in partnership with Liberty Foundation 3a Retirement Savings. Liberty is a leading pension platform in Switzerland, managing CHF 3.4 billion in pension money for 30,000 people. With Inyova, your pillar 3a invests in companies that are solving big global challenges – in areas like renewable energy, plant-based food, and gender equality. Plus, you get your first 6 months managed for free with my code 9286d.

The launch date hasn't been announced yet. You can get early access here.

You'll receive a personalized investment strategy in just a few clicks through Inyova's app or website and Inyova designs your strategy for long-term growth and scrutinizes every company against strict financial and sustainability criteria.

Inyova will offer a retirement plan that:

  • let's you start with as little as CHF100 through fractional shares, with investments always including different companies, industries, regions, and more.

  • has transparent fees (on the high side): 0.8% p.a. plus product cost of 0–0.24% p.a. based on your risk level. This includes separate pension fund account, all transactions fees, yearly rebalancing and foreign transaction fees.

  • makes you a shareholder in sustainable, socially responsible companies (similar to their investment accounts).

  • helps solve the biggest issues of our time, such as global warming and food scarcity – without compromising returns or ethics.

  • first 6 months free using my code 9286d -- sign up on the early access list!

WHY: Inyova has built a reputation for being robo-advisor that makes ESG investments their priority. I already have an investment account with them as well, so opening a pillar 3a account would be easy peasy and further supports my ESG investment strategy.

elleXX: Pillar 3a for Gender Equality and Diversity

elleXX is a very recent contender on the market and has partnered with the renowned Swiss asset manager Vontobel to create a branded pillar 3a. Vontobel has made a contractual commitment to elleXX to explicitly add investments that take particular account of equality and diversity above a certain volume. Onboarding is via elleXX's website or through Vontobel's app.

elleXX pillar 3a gives you:

  • easy minimum deposit of CHF500 required to open

  • competitive fees 0.48% p.a. plus product costs, which can vary depending on your chosen strategy, but no more than 0.50% of assets in your pillar.

  • Vontobel as renowned partner, including access to their financial advisors specifically assigned to elleXX

WHY: I am fascinated at how elleXX has created three products (pillar 3a, insurance, tracking certificate) in a very short amount of time. Teaming up with an internationally well-known asset manager that promises to support elleXX vision of financial gender equality (still remains to be seen how this will be achieved) is a step in the right direction. Their pillar 3a solution appears to be well in line with similar competitors price-wise as well, so I definitely had to check it out.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all pillar 3a solution providers. I either haven't had a chance to look more providers closely or they just aren't interesting enough for me to mention at all. Is there a provider you want me to take a look at and give my two cents on? Let me know in the comments!

++This is not financial, legal or investment advice and is not a solicitation to buy or sell products. I assume no liability for the accuracy of the information on my website, blog articles and any emails. Trading securities on the stock market is risky and you could lose your entire initial investment. I assume no liability for your decisions. I may receive a commission for links posted, which helps me finance my blog and website.++

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++This is not financial, legal or investment advice and is not a solicitation to buy or sell products. I assume no liability for the accuracy of the information on my website, blog articles and any emails. Trading securities on the stock market is risky and you could lose your entire initial investment. I assume no liability for your decisions. I recommend products on my blog that I use myself. I may receive a commission for links posted, which helps me finance my blog and website.++

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