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Self-discipline, knowledge and risk appetite influence Swiss people’s pension planning

Zurich Media Switzerland


People’s self-discipline increases their willingness to invest in their retirement. This is shown by the initial results of a new study carried out by the University of Basel in cooperation with UBS. People with higher levels of self-discipline are more likely to have a Pillar 3a and save more in their private pension schemes.

Zurich, 22 September 2015 – Personal retirement planning is not only influenced by a person’s age or wealth. A person’s self-discipline also plays a role in this area. In cooperation with UBS, the University of Basel investigated how psychological factors influence decisions concerning retirement planning, in particular the influence self-discipline has in this regard. Initial results showed that disciplined people are much more likely to have a Pillar 3a and save more in their private pension schemes. 

Self-discipline – 22 percent more saved

Behavioral tests were carried out to ascertain participants’ ability to exercise self-discipline and their risk appetite. 85 percent of those people with a high level of self-discipline stated that they had a Pillar 3a. This is 10 percent more than the group of people with low self-discipline (75 percent). Last year, disciplined savers paid an average of CHF 5,400 into their Pillar 3a savings – 22 percent more than those with low self-discipline (around CHF 4,400). The authors of the study, Prof. Dr. Jörg Rieskamp and Dr. Andreas Pedroni, believe this is because people with less self-control are seduced by smaller, but earlier rewards. They find it difficult to forgo spontaneous consumption in favor of saving for a later date. This means this type of person prefers to go on vacation now than to put the same amount aside for their retirement.

Risk appetite – Men risk more

People with a lower risk appetite rarely invest in fund solutions. The survey showed that women, in particular, are significantly more risk averse and are more safety-focused than men. They more often invest their money in a practically risk-free savings account rather than in investment funds. To put that into context, 31 percent of men invest in retirement funds. This figure is only 20 percent for women. In addition, women trust their knowledge of the Swiss pension system less than men.

Knowledge – Strong commitment to Pillar 3

Overall, the Swiss people surveyed between the ages of 19 and 45 are knowledgeable when it comes to pensions. 79 percent of those surveyed have some Pillar 3a savings, of which 67 percent have their retirement savings in a savings account, 11 percent invest in a fund solution and 13 percent use both options. 9 percent do not know how their retirement savings are invested. 50 percent of people who have invested in a Pillar 3a retirement fund do not know the proportion of their retirement fund made up by equities.

People with a good knowledge of the pension system are more likely to pay into their Pillar 3a. By contrast, fundamental financial knowledge – that is to say the ability to perform basic financial calculations – had barely any influence on the size of a person’s private pension savings.

Information on the study

In carrying out the study, the Center for Economic Psychology at the University of Basel worked together with LINK online to survey 1,008 people in employment (49.4 percent female, 50.6 percent male) between 19 and 45 in German- and French-speaking Switzerland.

The short version of the current pensions study “Voluntary retirement planning in Switzerland 2015” is available at


UBS Switzerland AG


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