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Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Beat Bühlmann, the CEO of finpension. I hope you will like this interview as much as the other interviews I have made in the past on this blog.
finpension is the company behind the best vested benefits account in Switzerland: valuepension. And they recently launched their third pillar offer: finpension 3a. And finpension 3a looks amazing.
All these products are fully digital and are focusing on low costs and high investment in stocks. This is exactly what I recommend on this blog. So I quite like their offers!
Several of my readers asked that I interview the CEO of finpension to learn more from him. So, let’s hear what Beat Bühlmann, CEO of finpension, has to say!
1. What can you tell us about yourself?
I am 37 years old, happily married, and the proud father of two boys.
I started my professional career in the field of hedge funds and after a few years, I joined the investment team of a private bank. It was an interesting and instructive time, but with very limited entrepreneurial freedom. I have always looked for other approaches and optimizations, but in a private banking environment and/or strongly patriarchal structures one does not always find open ears for alternative approaches. I am glad that I have taken this path to also see and understand which environment is the right one for me.
Besides my interest in financial markets, I also enjoy sports a lot. If there are free minutes (besides the family time of course), I usually fill them up with a run along the beautiful lakeshore of Lucerne. I pursue my goals ambitiously and persistently. Nevertheless, fun and pleasure are and will be always important in everything I do.
2. What is finpension?
finpension is a company that specializes in pension and financial solutions with added value and above all in the interests of its clients. To achieve this, we want to break new ground and constantly question the status quo. In everything we do, the goals, interests, and needs of our customers come first. finpension as a brand should stand for trust, quality, and reliability. In contrast to many providers, customers will not find any hidden fees with us.
3. How did finpension come to be?
Our first offer arose not least from our own need for a cost-efficient 1e plan. As a former employee of a bank, the possibilities of our own offer were simply not attractive enough. In our opinion, a good solution had to be digital, cost-efficient, and independent of banks. This was also the start of building such a solution by ourselves. With the strong demand, we quickly established ourselves in the B2B business and have launched further offers with a vested benefits foundation in 2018 and the 3a solution in 2020.
4. How do you manage to keep the fees so low?
This is only possible thanks to a very high degree of automation. This is why, for example, the choice of investment instruments in the pillar 3a solution is limited or focused on one provider. Furthermore, our cost structure is not comparable with that of banks and insurance companies.
5. Why are you investing in negative-yielding bonds?
We do not generally invest in negative yield bonds. The only currently slightly negative bond index in the strategies we propose is the Swiss Bond Index (currently around -0.15% YTM). The EM Govi Bond for example still has a YTM of over 4.5%. There are several points to consider in connection with bonds:
As a bank-independent provider, we do not have a bank in the background that is dependent on funding via 3a Cash. For this reason, we do not provide any incentives for our customers to hold cash.
In our view, bonds are still part of a balanced portfolio. A scenario with even lower interest rates cannot be ruled out.
With the possibility of customizing strategies, our customers can decide for themselves whether bonds should be part of the investment allocation.
6. How is it you offer up to 99% invested in foreign currencies?
We are pleased to have many ex-pats as customers. For this group of clients it simply often makes no sense to hold over 70% in Swiss francs if all personal risks are dependent on another currency (the BVV 2 regulation normally requires 70% to be held in Swiss francs). We always want to offer the greatest possible flexibility for our offers in order to be able to satisfy the actual needs of our customers. We are proactively placing these points with our supervisory authority accordingly and look together for solutions.
7. Is finpension 3a for everybody?
Definitely for all who are looking for a pillar 3a investment solution.
8. Should everybody invest the maximum per year in their third pillar?
No, it always depends on the personal situation. If a large investment is pending, a deposit may not be appropriate, as the money is tied up in the pension plan. Tax considerations also play a role. In principle, it is an attractive investment for the future and at the same time tax optimization.
9. Do you have any advice for DIY investors?
Yes: “Be in the market beats timing the market”.
With our solution, we offer very high flexibility to implement your own investment view as cost-efficiently as possible. Over time, it has been shown again and again that passive and cost-efficient strategies pay off. We are skeptical about complex investment models and optimizations based on historical figures. Keep it simple!
10. Any other cool plans for the future?
Yes, we are already working on new stuff. If we look at offerings of banks and insurance companies, there seems to be still a lot to do. We look forward to challenge the status quo of various offerings. We are currently dealing with topics such as online financial planning and investment solutions for private assets.
11. Anything else you would like to add?
Which offer or new product would you like to see from us?
Mr. The Poor Swiss: Thanks a lot to Beat for answering all my questions!
It was great to learn from the CEO of Finpension directly. I really like their offers of vested benefits and third pillars.
Both their offers have great advantages for your personal finances. The investing fees are really low, and they allow investors to invest a considerable portion of their assets in stocks (up to 99%!).
What do you think about Finpension or valuepension?
Do you have a Finpension 3a account already?
Do you have any more questions for Beat?
What product would you like to see from Finpension?