In old-age provision, despite laws mandating equality for everyone, there are clear differences in retirement income between the sexes. Women have greater financial hurdles to overcome due to interruptions in employment, part-time jobs, wage differences, investment behavior and longer life expectancy. As a result, women reach retirement age with fewer assets and a smaller pension. By actively saving for retirement early, both women and men can positively impact their retirement income.

Zurich, 28 November 2018 – The financial situation in retirement age is more uncertain than ever, especially for women and younger generations. That makes it all the more important to deal with retirement provision early and actively. By taking some tips and tricks to heart, you can increase your chances of having an adequate pension and capital income. These practical tips are especially important for women, as they always have greater financial hurdles to overcome.

Life is full of decisions and important events. Most of us tend to look at the short-term impact of these. A new study by the Chief Investment Office of UBS shows, however, that many of the professional and private decisions and events in life have primarily a long-term impact on retirement provision. Given the dwindling stability of the pension system, the focus on retirement provision should come sooner rather than later.

Key factors for retirement provision for women

Women have fewer assets and smaller pensions at retirement age. One reason for this is that women tend to have lower salaries, work more often in part-time jobs, have a longer life expectancy and therefore have a longer retirement period to finance. A UBS survey conducted in cooperation with gfs-zürich shows that women are more conservative in investing than men and they start investing later than men. Taking some tips to heart can help them to supplement their retirement income.

Impact of factors and approaches to financing retirement

In the new publication “Safeguarding retirement provision – Tips for every man and woman,” UBS economists analyze the individual financial circumstances of a variety of women in different life situations. Workload, working environment, investment behavior, marital status and life expectancy are not to be underestimated as influencing factors. The authors ask “what might happen if things had been different” and show the specific impact of various decisions and events on the expected income from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd pillars. For example, by working a 60% part-time job until retirement compared to slowly increasing the level of employment as the children grow up, the average income in the example shown can rise from CHF 73,000 to CHF 95,000, which would add CHF 400 per month to retirement income.

Men also have options for optimizing their retirement provision. Even with a higher salary and full-time workload, it is worth taking a close look, for example, at the employer’s pension fund. If only mandatory wages are insured, the pension will be 10% lower at an average annual income of CHF 100,000 than if higher salary components are also insured.

A new legal foundation is needed

The authors also emphasize that, despite all the options for optimization, updated legal principles are necessary. Family and employment models could be changed by making men and women equal in raising children. The first and second pillars must be placed on sustainable financial foundations. The third pillar could also benefit from an upgrade, such as allowing retroactive purchase options for the pillar 3a. After all, private retirement savings will inevitably become even more important.  

You can find out more and read the entire study at:

UBS Switzerland AG


Jackie Bauer, economist and pensions expert
UBS Chief Investment Office GWM
Tel. +41 44 239 90 61

Veronica Weisser, Head Macroeconomic and Sector Analysis Switzerland
UBS Chief Investment Office GWM
Tel. +41 44 234 50 62