Alma Cilurzo
Content Managerin

It was very convenient to leave my 3rd pillar account in the long Sleeping Beauty sleep with my house bank. But I knew I was missing out on some return opportunities. «Better late then never» I said to myself, and I did it. I had my account transferred to a cheaper provider and invested in a pension fund.

Nowadays, the transfer of the 3rd pillar is no longer rocket science. I’d be happy to show you how it’s done. There are so many things we need to talk about. So, let’s talk finance.

What exactly does the pillar 3a switching process look like?

Corina Friedli Vorsorgeberaterin

In principle, your savings must simply remain earmarked and within a restricted retirement account. An early withdrawal is only possible in the case of self-employment, home ownership, emigration or disability. At the moment, you can’t (unfortunately) fly to the Bahamas with your 3a money – at least until you’re 65.

🔹 Lessons learnt: Pension assets remain Pension assets!

I will now show you the transfer process very simply, step by step.

Procedure for the transfer using the simple example of finpension:

  1. Download the app or register via the web app.
  2. Open your new 3a-account (directly via the app) the portfolio will be created automatically.
  3. Print the document (transfer form) for the desired transfer and send it signed and physically to your previous pension provider.
  4. Your previous pension provider now transfers the total amount to your new account.
  5. There, your assets will either go on an account or will be invested for you according to your risk profile and investment horizon.
  6. If desired, set up a new standing order on the new portfolio. This way you can invest bit by bit.

Find more here: Transfer made easy

The different transfer options

If you have your 3rd pillar with a bank, switching is pretty easy. With an insurance company you are contractually bound and an early withdrawal means high costs and fees for you.

To provide a little more clarity and understanding here, I’ll stick with the bank solution. I have created two simple graphics for this, which I hope will give you some Aha-experiences.

Transfer from account to portfolio with new provider

If you have a 3a account without a portfolio, it will be invested according to your desired strategy after the money transfer. Very easy!

Transfer from portfolio to portfolio with new provider

If you have already invested your 3rd pillar assets, this investments will be sold, the cash transferred to the new provider and reinvested according to your risk profile. Includes one more step, but also easy!

Transferring a 3a account is a bit easier, but even switching with an existing portfolio is well worth it. Don’t you think so? With a change of provider, you benefit immediately from lower fees. This pays off massively in the short as well as in the long term.

So far so good. But now I’ll answer some other questions. Next:

What notice periods do you have to consider?

Before you put your decision into action, it is advisable to check the notice periods of your existing provider. There are currently some financial intermediaries that have a special notice period for the transfer. Depending on the institution, this can take up to three months. So, inform yourself!

💡 Tip: It’s smart to check the notice periods of the new provider carefully as well. Coming “out of the frying pan into the fire” definitely doesn’t make sense for you.

What fees may apply to you?

Just as pension products and providers are a dime a dozen, there are also a wide variety of fees. It is worth taking a closer look here as well.

Here is a possible listing using the 3a account as an example:

3a providerAccount fees (yearly) Closing fees
Banque Cantonale VaudoiseCHF 36CHF 50
Luzerner KantonalbankCHF 0CHF 100
Obwaldner KantonalbankCHF 0CHF 100
Selection interest rates and fees vested benefits account comparison finpension

You can find more detailed information about the vested benefits account comparison here: Interest rates and fees of vested benefits accounts compared.

🔹 Lessons Learnt: There is a closing fee when the 3a account/deposit is closed.

How long does the transfer from provider A to provider B take?

Of course, this depends on various factors. First of all, it depends on the notice period already mentioned (see above). Basically, you can remember the following:

  • The transfer order is usually only made on bank working days (Mo-Fr).
  • On weekends and holidays, on the other hand, nothing happens.
  • If your transfer request arrives on Friday, the transfer will be executed the following week..
  • We usually assume 5-7 bank working days, whereby account solutions are transferred more quickly than deposits. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Can only a partial amount of the 3a account be transferred?

This is a very important question. Unfortunately, it is not possible to split a 3a account, only all-in. If you have several separate 3a accounts, you can of course transfer them at different times to different portfolios and/or providers.

💡 Tip: Set up a standing order for your future 3a payments, so you invest regularly and smooth out current market fluctuations. In addition, you will never miss the deposit deadline (mid-December).

When is the right time for a transfer?

What was that again about fortune-telling, whether or not you will ever make the right investment decision at the right time? You simply don’t know. So beware of quackery 😉 . Of course, you could just wait, look down the tube and be happy with the interest rate. We are talking about an average of 0.0 % (Alternative Bank) – 0.25 % (Banca Popolare di Sondrio) when things are going well. Source: 3a accounts compared (2021)

Or, in the spirit of wait and see, you think in the long term and bet on your long investment horizon. It’s like your salary and your rent. The lower your rent, the more money you have freely available. Thus, low (fixed) costs mean fewer expenses for you.

Conversely, you now have more of your pension assets left over and benefit from lower costs and higher return opportunities. Say thank you to your fund investments!

How do I know which products match my already existing fund investments?

You have already invested in a pension fund and would like to find a more favourable solution? That’s great. Do it!

In the pension fund jungle, it is not always easy to keep track of everything. The various fund offers differ in their structure and composition depending on the provider. This can be slightly confusing.

Here is a possible example: Change from Postfinance funds to finpension funds at the end of May 2022:

PF Pension – ESG 25 Fund
Annual fee TER (total expense ratio)
1.12 % wird im Fonds belastet
finpension Sustainable 20
Annual fee 0.39 % excl. VAT.
Product costs 0.01 % incl. VAT.
Total costs 0.43 % incl. VAT.
PF Pension – ESG 50 Fund
Annual fee TER 1,19 %
( ❗️ 3 times higher then finpension )
finpension Sustainable 40 oder 60
Annual fee 0.39 % excl. VAT.
Product costs 0.01 % incl. VAT.
Total costs 0.43 % incl. VAT.
PF Pension – ESG 75 Fund 
Annual fee TER 1.24 %
finpension Sustainable 80
0.39 % excl. VAT.
Product costs 0.02 % incl. VAT.
Total costs 0.44 % incl. VAT.
PF Pension – ESG 100 Fund
Annual fee TER 1.27 %
finpension Sustainable 100
0.39 % excl. VAT.
Product costs 0.02 % incl. VAT.
Total costs 0.44 % incl. VAT.
*finpension Sustainable 20 is the name we use in the factsheet, it is the condensed version of «finpension Equity 20 with investment focus Sustainable».

We have compared Postfinance funds and finpension funds in the table above. Since Postfinance changed its 3a fund management in 2022 (from passive to active management), the fees have been adjusted upwards. There is an interesting article on this in the Beobachter!

Good News for your finances!

  • With our finpension solution, you continue to benefit from an all in-fee of 0.39 % plus VAT.
  • This offer is by far the cheapest in Switzerland!

Of course, you shouldn’t just take my word for it. We are talking about hard facts that you can check out for yourself. Voilà, check it out: Handelszeitung

🔹 Lessons learnt: In general, it is quite easy to find out which 3a investment product suits you best. You can orientate yourself on the equity portion of the respective funds. But you can also simply make an appointment with me and the finpension team. We look forward to accompanying you.

💡 Tip: Be sure to evaluate your current risk profile and review your investment strategy before making any changes. Are you on track? Download our finpension app now and create your own risk profile directly on your mobile phone. Click here to go to the: App Store, Google Play or Webapp.

Thank you for reading our article to the end. Now you know in a nutshell how the transfer of your pillar 3a works. Open your own 3a account with finpension in no time and get started.

We look forward to you. It’s time for your finances!

🤘 rock your finances
Corina Friedli
Pension Advisor
Money Education Ambassadorin
🚀 It’s fintech, baby!
Alma Cilurzo
Content Managerin
Money Education Ambassadorin

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