You are working in Switzerland, find a new job in another country, leave in a whirlwind and forget to tell your work’s pension provider you are moving. If this sounds familiar then there could be a pot of forgotten Swiss pension money with your name on it sitting unclaimed in a special fund. This fund now has a record breaking sum of nearly CHF 3 billion in it. There are currently 632,302 unclaimed accounts with an average balance of around CHF 4,700. Some of the unclaimed amounts are only a few centimes, however 258 contain over CHF 250,000.
Swiss pensions have three parts. The first slice comes from the Swiss government (1st pillar), the second from compulsory savings deducted from salaries at source (2nd pillar) and the third from an optional tax sheltered 3rd pillar savings account. It is 2nd pillar pensions, those administered by employers and not particularly visible to many workers, that are sitting unclaimed.
Employers can arrange for the funds to follow employees when they leave but sometimes don’t bother to arrange it. If the pension money is not claimed within two years the funds are transferred to the Substitute Occupational Benefit Institution where they sit until their owner is found. The institution tries to track down owners, however when employees leave Switzerland they can be difficult to find. Last year only 34% of the owners of unclaimed accounts were found.
Both the number of accounts and total funds are up substantially from six years ago. In 2009 the institution had CHF 1.3 billion in it. Now it has CHF 2.97 billion. And the number of unclaimed accounts has risen from 426,303 to 632,302.
Max Meili, from the institution, puts the rise down to globalisation. More Swiss are spending part of their lives abroad either working or taking time out. In addition, more foreigners are working in Switzerland and returning home without knowing what needs to be done regarding Swiss pensions.
Anyone who thinks they might have an unclaimed 2nd pillar pension in Switzerland is advised to contact the Substitute Occupational Benefit Institution. 35,000 people contacted the institution in 2015, a big rise from the year before.
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