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Unclaimed employment pensions hit $3 billion

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Unclaimed employment pensions hit $3 billion
Photo: AFP
22:06 CET+01:00
Retirement assets totalling close to three billion francs are lying dormant in Swiss occupational pension funds because their beneficiaries cannot be traced, according to a report.

More than 2.97 billion francs is held in around 632,000 accounts, according to the Substitute Benefit Occupational Benefit Institution (Stiftung Auffangeinrichtung BVG).

The money is from occupational pension accounts that are often forgotten about when an individual changes jobs or during a pause in a professional career, Max Meili, director of the institution told the ATS news agency.

They subsequently fail to follow up on the so-called “second pillar” pensions, which supplement the Swiss old-age, survivors' and invalidity insurance (first pillar) and private insurance (third pillar) plans.

Second pillar pensions are funded by contributions from employers and employees.

Meili told ATS that globalization explains in part the rise in dormant accounts, which amounted to 1.3 billion francs more than in 2009.

Swiss more often spend part of their careers outside of Switzerland and lose track of contributions they have made to pension plans when they switch jobs.

More expats are working in Switzerland, also, and many return to their home country without having followed the necessary steps to ensure they receive their pension earnings.

Stiftung Auffangeinrichtung BVG said it succeeded in tracking around a third of orphaned accounts in 2015.

Such accounts had an average value of 4,700 francs last year but 258 accounts were worth more than 250,000 francs.

Anyone who is concerned about losing part of their occupational pension while working in Switzerland can contact the Second Pillar Central Office.

This Bern-based office received 35,000 inquiries in 2015, considerably more than in previous years, ATS reported.

People alerted by media coverage are becoming more active in tracking down income that would otherwise be lost, the news agency indicated.

Cantonal authorities are also conducting more research when it comes to deciding on social aid or other complementary benefits, ATS said.
 

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