Pension What is your getting-older moment?

We cannot stop the natural process of aging. But those who plan for retirement early at least do not have to worry about the financial consequences. We asked four people when they first became aware they were growing old.

by UBS Insights 06 Sep 2018

“When my kids told me I should leave the heavy gardening to them from now on.” Christoph, 62, chemistry teacher.

“Out of the blue, my children told me they’d love to help out,” remembers Christoph. This was a surprise to him, as they had never been eager to do the gardening before. “Now, they do everything they can so I can stay in my home and enjoy the garden for as long as possible.” But this also raised some important questions: “I asked myself for the first time how I was actually doing financially. Do I have enough money to stay in my house after retiring? What factors should I consider?”

Together with his wife, the soon-to-be pensioner calculated whether they could afford the house after he retired. They concluded that their pension would not be enough. The couple began looking over their options.

“We decided to pay off part of the mortgage and to close a gap in the pension fund. That should allow us to stay here even after I retire.” Christoph will be able to continue enjoying his garden for a long time to come.

“On an e-bike, going at breakneck speed.” Yvonne, 58, museum employee, and Jacques, 62, director of an SME.

“E-bikes enable us to continue traveling long distances without a car and shop for groceries in town,” says Yvonne. But the first time she rode faster than 35 km/h, she felt a bit uneasy. Are e-bikes really right for an urban couple? During their first trip together, Yvonne wondered what would happen if her husband Jacques fell and badly injured himself.

“What happens if he’s no longer able to think for himself? Can I decide for him? Who would deal with care and finances?” Under normal circumstances, this is the job of the child and adult protection authority (Kinder- und Erwachsenenschutzbehörde – Kesb). Even for married couples. To minimize state interference, you need an advance care directive in which you define who decides about medical procedures, care, financial matters and contracts.

“We drew up the contract together. Now we know that no stranger will decide for us,” says Jacques, smiling. Their advance care directives give them security – not only on their bike trips.

“A younger colleague asked me how much longer I still have to work.” Erika, 54, accountant.

Only 10 more years? Her answer surprised her more than she was willing to admit. Until that moment, she had never given retirement a second thought – much less thought about preparing for it. Erika arranged a meeting with her bank advisor. Their conversation was an eye-opener for her.


“In retrospect, it’s sort of funny how little I knew about all this,” says Erika. For example? “That my AHV pension will be permanently higher if I work a little bit longer and delay my first withdrawal. And that I can save on taxes with well-timed purchases into the pension fund. All this was news to me.”

She and her client advisor drafted a plan to determine when she should take which steps. A few years remain. “Even so, I’m glad to know that I’m well-prepared for retirement,” says Erika, “because, hopefully, that means the only things I’ll have to worry about are my hobbies.”

Age catches up with you faster than you think

Suddenly everyone is calling you “Sir” or “Ma’am,” you have lost count of your gray hairs and are forever looking for your glasses – there comes a time when we all notice we have grown older. Before you know it, retirement is around the corner. The realization raises several questions.

Should I withdraw my retirement savings as a lump sum or draw a monthly pension? Can I still afford my own home? What should I plan for to ensure I have enough money when I retire?

Those who ask themselves these questions early enough can relax and look forward to their retirement.