More than £2.85bn languishes in Swiss pension accounts – is some of it yours?

A growing and significant number of people in the UK are seeking to recover around £2.85bn (almost CHF 3bn) “languishing untouched” in dormant pension accounts in Switzerland, it has been revealed.


deVere United Kingdom and deVere Switzerland, part of deVere Group which does business in more than 100 countries globally, say the trend has soared in the recent months.


Daniel O’Leary, deVere Area Manager in Zurich, comments: “It’s known that there are more than 630,000 dormant pension accounts in Switzerland which have been left with no instruction by the account holder. This could just be the tip of the iceberg. Some of these accounts have hundreds of thousands of Swiss francs in them.


“These pensions are routinely transferred over to the Substitute Occupational Benefit Institution, where they languish untouched.


“I’m sure no-one wants to just leave the money that they had been prudently putting away for retirement when it could otherwise be working for them and creating life-enhancing opportunities for them and their loved ones.


“In our professional experience globally we know this can often happen, especially when people move from one country to another, it’s a regular occurrence that pensions get forgotten, misplaced or left behind.


“This is why it can be expected that many of the pensions belonging to people who used to work in Switzerland can lay languishing and forgotten about whilst they now reside in other countries.”


This correlates with a significant trend developing in the UK.


Director of deVere United Kingdom, Mitch Hopkinson, notes: “As cross-border family wealth managers, we’ve helped a growing and significant number of people in the UK who previously lived in Switzerland to recover pensions there.


“I believe this demand could be attributed to two key driving factors. First, increasing awareness and media coverage of Switzerland’s controversial negative interest rate policy, which has the effect of eroding pension pots. 


“And second, the strength of the Swiss Franc. There is an argument for matching the currency of assets with that of your liabilities, simply to reduce exchange risk over the long term.”


He continues: “Our work on pension recovery highlights how imperative it is that individuals, and perhaps particularly expats, who typically live more transient lifestyles, consistently keep on top of personal finance admin throughout their lives.


“This is especially important nowadays because of the higher number of jobs we have over a lifetime; because it might be a long time before the pensions are accessed; and because we’re all living longer meaning we need more retirement funds than ever before.”


Mr Hopkinson concludes: “I would recommend that those who feel that they have misplaced pensions within the estimated £2.85bn dormant accounts, contact an independent financial adviser with relevant cross-border experience.  They will be able to help track down those lost retirement savings. Our experience is that this can often boost help with achieving long term plans for a successful retirement”.


“In addition, they will be able to set out a raft of tax-efficient measures, including re-investment of the pension or withdrawal, which could be financially advantageous.”


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