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VIAC vs Finpension 3a – Which is the best third pillar for 2024?

Baptiste Wicht | Updated: |

(Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links)

Until the end of 2020, VIAC was unchallenged as the best third pillar in Switzerland. And then came Finpension 3a, another great third pillar offer.

I have already made reviews of these two excellent services. But we also need to compare VIAC vs Finpension 3a in detail to see which is the best third pillar in Switzerland.

In this article, I compare VIAC vs Finpension 3a in detail. We see their investing strategies, fees, and everything you need to know to choose!

Finpension 3a

Best Third Pillar!
Finpension 3a
5.0
Very low fees

Finpension 3a is the best third pillar in Switzerland.

Use the FEYKV5 code to get a fee credit of 25 CHF*!

*(if you deposit 1000 CHF in the first 12 months)

Pros:
  • Invest 99% in stocks
Grow your 3a with FEYKV5 code Read my review

Finpension 3a is the newest challenger in the third pillar world. They started in October 2020. But they are not a new company. Finpension is already behind the best vested benefits account there is in Switzerland.

Finpension 3a also started as a mobile-only third pillar. But they added web support only a few months after they started.

So what makes Finpension 3a so interesting?

  1. You can invest up to 99% in stocks!
  2. The fees are very low, at 0.39% per year.
  3. You have considerable freedom in your portfolio.

So, while they are new to the third pillar world, they are already exciting. And they have great experience managing vested benefits accounts.

For more information, you can read my review of Finpension 3a.

VIAC

VIAC started in 2018 as the first mobile third pillar. When it started, it was the only mobile-only third pillar and started a small revolution in the third pillar world. There are now several mobile alternatives. And now, VIAC also offers a web application.

VIAC has two significant advantages:

  • You can invest up to 99% in stocks. They were the first ones to offer this allocation to stocks.
  • The fees are low, at 0.41% per year, for the most interesting strategy. For the Swiss third pillars, this is as low as it gets.

On top of that, VIAC is a very transparent and honest company with clear communication.

All these advantages made it the best third pillar when they started. And they now have more than 15’000 customers.

For more information, you can read my review of VIAC.

Investing Strategies

Draw

We start by comparing the investing strategies of VIAC vs Finpension 3a.

Both third pillars invest in mutual funds. They do not use ETFs because pension companies can access much better funds than private investors. Therefore, they can access funds with close to zero (or even zero) TER. So, it is an excellent reason to invest in mutual funds instead of ETFs.

Both companies invest in passive mutual funds. These funds are all index funds that minimize the costs and try to replicate the market’s performance. Once again, it is a great thing.

Finpension 3a and VIAC let you choose between Credit Suisse and Swisscanto index funds. On top of that, Finpension 3a also gives you access to UBS, making it a small advantage for Finpension.

Both companies let you invest up to 99% in stocks.

Both companies differ in what they do with the money not invested in stocks. At Finpension, only 1% is kept in cash. The rest of the money not invested in cash is invested in bonds. With VIAC, you can choose between keeping it in bonds or cash.

Some people dislike bonds because they yield negative interest for a few years. However, they are currently earning more than cash again. So, it is a matter of timing. Nevertheless, it is good that VIAC lets you hold cash should you wish it.

However, with Finpension, you can invest in a money market fund. A money market fund is similar to cash and would yield the same.

Overall, both third pillar providers have a great investing strategy! But Finpension 3a is better for aggressive investors like me.

Custom Strategies

Winner: Finpension

Looking at what advanced investors can do with custom strategies is always good. So, we compare VIAC vs FInpension 3a on that point.

Both third pillars let you choose a custom strategy.

With VIAC, there are some limits to what you can do with a custom strategy:

  • They will only let you invest up to 60% in foreign currencies.
  • You can only invest up to 90% in Swiss Stocks.
  • VIAC will prevent you from having too much in a single company (this impacts only the SMI)
  • They will prevent having more than 20% in Emerging Markets.

Most of these limitations are not that bad. I wish the first limitation was relaxed. All the other limitations make sense, and I would not want to overcome them. However, having 40% of CHF in my portfolio will limit my diversification.

With Finpension 3a, you also have some limits:

  • Maximum of 20% in precious metals
  • Maximum of 50% in Real Estate

And that is about it for the limits. You can have 99% in foreign currencies (1% needs to stay in cash). And you can have 99% in a single  World fund, for instance.

And you can even optimize for having 0% TER:

Zero TER for a custom strategy with Finpension 3a
Zero TER for a custom strategy with Finpension 3a

So, Finpension 3a is significantly more flexible regarding custom investing strategies than VIAC. You will be able to boost your international diversification higher. But VIAC still offers great custom strategies.

Fees

Winner: Finpension

In the long term, it is essential to consider the investing fees. You will pay these fees for a very long time. And you will pay regardless of the market conditions. So, we need to compare the fees of VIAC vs Finpension 3a.

VIAC has a base administration fee of 0.52% on the invested assets. On top of that, the total administration fee is capped at 0.40%. Then, you will also pay some fees for the funds themselves.

So, the fees will depend on which strategy you are using. Using the standard Global 100 portfolio (99% in stocks, globally diversified), you will pay 0.41% in fees per year.

On top of that, you pay fees for currency conversion. This fee is 0.75% per conversion. However, this is optimized by netting conversions together. VIAC estimates the annual average to be 0.05%. It is difficult to say if this is accurate or not. I would think it is likely to be slightly higher.

Finally, there are also some subscription and redemption fees in the index funds used by VIAC. This is almost negligible in the long term since you only buy and sell once. So, we can ignore them for now.

This gives a fee of about 0.46% per year for a fully invested and well-diversified portfolio at VIAC.

We can take a look at Finpension 3a now. The base fee is 0.39% annually and includes VAT and product costs.

Finally, the funds also have some subscription and redemption fees, just like for VIAC. They are mostly using the same funds. The foreign exchange fee is 0.05%. With netting, this will be negligible on average.

This gives us a total fee of about 0.39% for Finpension 3a for an excellent portfolio.

When we compare VIAC vs Finpension 3a, Finpension 3a is cheaper than VIAC. You may think this is not a significant difference, but a 0.39% fee is about 5% cheaper than a 0.41% fee!

There is another advantage to Finpension 3a: its tax domicile. If you are withdrawing your third pillar abroad if you have left Switzerland, the tax domicile of the pension will be important for the taxes. Finpension 3a is domiciled in Schwyz, the canton with the lowest taxes for pension withdrawals! This could make a significant difference for people withdrawing from outside Switzerland.

On top of that, you can save money on fees with both products by recommending the service to friends and families.

If you have 100’000 CHF in your third pillar, you will save 20 CHF per year with Finpension 3a.

In the previous section, I mentioned that VIAC lets you hold cash. When you do that, you do not pay fees on the cash portion. So, a 100% cash portfolio at VIAC would be free of fees. And with 40% cash, you would only pay 60% of the normal fees. At Finpension, you are always fully invested. Therefore, you will pay more fees at Finpension 3a for a low stock allocation.

Extra features – Insurance

Winner: VIAC

We can also look at the extra features that these two great services offer. It is pretty simple since only VIAC has an extra feature, and it is the only one.

Indeed, VIAC started offering life or disability insurance in its package. For each 10’000 CHF invested in securities, you will get free protection of 2500 CHF. You have to choose yourself if you want life or disability insurance. You cannot choose both.

We should try to quantify the value of such insurance. In Switzerland, men have a 6% chance of dying before retirement as of 2021. If you have 100’000 CHF invested in your portfolio, you get 25’000 CHF insurance. Based on the probability of dying before retirement, we can put a value of 1500 CHF for your investments’ entire duration.

If you invest for 30 years, you will get a life insurance value of:

  • 50 CHF per year if you invest 100’000 CHF in your third pillar
  • 100 CHF per year if you invest 200’0000 CHF in your third pillar
  • 200 CHF per year if you invest 400’000 CHF in your third pillar

For disability, about 2% of people in Switzerland are concerned with disability insurance as of 2021. So, we will take 2% as the probability of being disabled.

If you invest for 30 years, you will get a life insurance value of:

  • 16.66 CHF per year if you invest 100’000 CHF in your third pillar
  • 33.33 CHF per year if you invest 200’0000 CHF in your third pillar
  • 66.66 CHF per year if you invest 400’000 CHF in your third pillar

These are only rough estimates. But you need a lot of money invested for this insurance to be interesting. And even then, the amounts are relatively low. I prefer paying lower fees and being optimistic. But, for people already customers of VIAC, it is an attractive, although minimal, advantage.

Security

Winner: Finpension

We should compare the security of VIAC vs Finpension 3a.

Both applications are technically secure, and both companies have a strong security record. I have not heard of any leaks or breaches in these two companies.

With Finpension 3a, you can configure the second factor of authentication (SMS). This helps with security since this will require your phone. I would have preferred other choices than SMS, but this is already better than no second factor, like in VIAC. However, you cannot do much from these two applications since the money is blocked until you can use it. Nevertheless, there is plenty of important information, and I would prefer a second authentication factor.

Both services let you identify yourself with your identity documents. This makes sure that nobody can open an account in your name. At finpension, you can choose to do that while it is mandatory at VIAC.

From a safety point of view, both third pillars are equivalent. VIAC and Finpension 3a manage the assets, but they are held in a pension foundation’s balance sheets. The assets are saved in a custody bank in both cases. So, in cases of VIAC or Finpension 3a going bankrupt, the foundation must find a new manager.

Overall, I feel like the security of both third pillars is good. But Finpension 3a has the advantage of a second factor of authentication. So, I would say Finpension 3a is slightly safer.

Reputation

Draw

Finally, we look at the reputation of VIAC vs Finpesion 3a.

Both companies are young, and finding many reviews about them is challenging. I have never heard any public bad news about either of them. And both companies seem to have an excellent reputation.

VIAC has 82 reviews on Google and got an average score of 5 out of 5 stars. It is a really impressive score. There are only two reviews with less than five stars, and none point out a real issue. Now, most reviews are advertising codes for their referral programs. So, I would probably not pay attention to most of these reviews.

On the App Store, VIAC got 152 notes and an average score of 4.7 out of 5 stars. On the Play Store, VIAC got 239 reviews for an average 4.8 out of 5 stars.

Finpension 3a has no reviews on Google. They have ten reviews on the Play Store with an average score of 5 out of 5. And they have no reviews on the App Store.

Both companies have the same good reputation. VIAC has slightly more experience with third pillars. But Finpension has more experience with second pillars (1e and vested benefits). So, overall, I have high trust in both of them!

Applications

Winner: VIAC

I do not care about the applications, especially for the third pillar. It is unimportant because you rarely use it and have to do very little with it.

But some people consider this very important. I would much rather invest in a terrible app (with good security!) and low fees than in a beautiful app with higher fees. But it is up to you to decide what you want to prioritize.  So, we compare VIAC vs Finpension 3a in terms of their applications.

VIAC offers a mobile application and a web application.  And I feel like both applications are pretty good.  They look good and are very easy to use. I think that they did a great job of polishing the applications.

Finpension 3a is also available as a mobile application and a web application. The mobile application could profit from some extra polishing.  IAC is a little better.

On the criteria of applications, VIAC is slightly better than Finpension 3a. Their mobile application feels a little better, but nothing significant.

Summary – VIAC vs Finpension 3a

Winner: Finpension

We can draw a table summary of our findings:

Best Third Pillar!
Good Third Pillar
5.0
4.5
Pros:
  • Invest 99% in stocks
  • Great investing strategy
  • Outstanding fees
  • Great customization
Pros:
  • Great investing strategy
  • Good fees
Cons:
  • Does not let you invest in cash
Cons:
  • Only 97% in stocks
  • Not great for aggressive investors
Management Fees:
0.44
Management Fees:
0.50
Security:
Good
Security:
Good
Best Third Pillar!
5.0
Pros:
  • Invest 99% in stocks
  • Great investing strategy
  • Outstanding fees
  • Great customization
Cons:
  • Does not let you invest in cash
Management Fees:
0.44
Security:
Good
Good Third Pillar
4.5
Pros:
  • Great investing strategy
  • Good fees
Cons:
  • Only 97% in stocks
  • Not great for aggressive investors
Management Fees:
0.50
Security:
Good

We can draw a few conclusions from this summary:

  • Finpension 3a is better for aggressive investors
  • Better expected returns in the long-term with Finpension 3a
  • VIAC is better for conservative investors who do not want bonds
  • VIAC applications are a little more polished than Finpension 3a
  • VIAC offers life or disability insurance coverage

VIAC vs Finpension 3a – Conclusion

Best Third Pillar!
Finpension 3a
5.0
Very low fees

Finpension 3a is the best third pillar in Switzerland.

Use the FEYKV5 code to get a fee credit of 25 CHF*!

*(if you deposit 1000 CHF in the first 12 months)

Pros:
  • Invest 99% in stocks
Grow your 3a with FEYKV5 code Read my review

We are now done comparing VIAC vs Finpension 3a.  The first important point to note is that both are great third pillars. They are the two best third pillars available in Switzerland.

But we have to choose a better one! Finpension 3a has advantages over VIAC for long-term investing! Being able to invest 99% in stocks is good. And reducing the fees by about 10% is a great thing.

Adding to the fact that custom strategies can lower the fees and push foreign exposure to a maximum, I think Finpension is an excellent third pillar!

In 2021, I contributed to Finpension instead of contributing to VIAC. Given my long-term horizon and aggressive investing, it fits me best. And I think it is the better option for most people who will retire soon. As of 2022, I now have four accounts at Finpension 3a and will open a new one in 2023.

The only time VIAC would be better is for more conservative people who do not want bonds. Indeed, the fees will be slightly lower (especially if you go lower than 80%). However, you could use a money market fund instead with Finpension 3a.

If you open a Finpension 3a account, please use my code FEYKV5. This will give you a 25 CHF fee credit (if you deposit 1000 CHF in the first 12 months) and will also help the blog.

Which of VIAC vs Finpension 3a do you think is the best? Which third pillar provider are you using?

The best financial services for your money!

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Photo of Baptiste Wicht

Baptiste Wicht started thepoorswiss.com in 2017. He realized that he was falling into the trap of lifestyle inflation. He decided to cut his expenses and increase his income. This blog is relating his story and findings. In 2019, he is saving more than 50% of his income. He made it a goal to reach Financial Independence. You can send Mr. The Poor Swiss a message here.

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101 thoughts on “VIAC vs Finpension 3a – Which is the best third pillar for 2024?”

  1. Thanks very much for your work on this excellent website. I see that Swissquote have been marketing their new 3A offering. Any thoughts on how that stacks up against VIAC and Finpension? The fees look reasonably attractive and they have the history, credibility and and name recognition that VIAC / Finpension lack a little. Thanks

    1. As Swissquote customer, I eagerly waited for this. But as long as you cannot really choose the products in the portfolio, it does not make sense in my opinion. Viac or Finpension is way more flexible and also cheaper.

    2. Hi JamesC,

      I haven’t look in details at it. The base fee is 0.60% which is already 50% more expensive than Finpension and VIAC. Then, they are using UBS Vitainvest funds, which are not free but around 0.20% TER. So, this gives a total fee of around 0.80%, twice more than finpension 3a. I don’t think it’s really interesting. Also, the information on their website is really limited as to the choices we can do with strategies. I would definitely stick with Finpension and VIAC.

  2. Hi Baptiste,

    Thanks a lot for the great review.
    I’m really unsure between VIAC and FinPension but looking at my specific situation

    I’m looking into the Global Sustainable 100 in both VIAC and FinPension and I’m wondering whether FinPension is too exposed in Switzerland:
    – VIAC – about 40% CHF and 40% CH (both SwissCanto and CreditSuisse)
    – FinPension – about 60% CHF and 40% CH (SwissCanto and CreditSuisse), about 41% CHF and 60% CH (UBS)

    What do you think about that?

    Also, If I compare the SwissCanto ones, the total cost is pretty much the same:
    – VIAC 0.4%
    – FinPension 0.39%

    Is there really any advantage selecting UBS or Credit Suisse in this case?

    Thanks a lot!

    1. Hi Giorgio

      Just a small mistake on your end, all three providers have the same percentages:
      * 1% CHF cash
      * 39% CH stocks
      * 60% world, including 20% hedged.

      Now, it’s entirely true (and I should mention that more in the article) that VIAC is more aggressive by default by going to 60% foreign currency exposure. So, if you stick with the default portfolio, VIAC may be better. Finpension allows you to lift that limit with customized strategies and you can go 99% foreign currency if you want, which makes it better in my opinion, but that requires a custom portfolio.
      And you are right that at this point, both services are very cheap.

      1. Hi Baptiste,

        Thanks a lot for your answer!
        Would this mean that in FinPension with the customized strategy I could go with something extreme like this:
        – 1% cash
        – 99% world (unhedged)

        Also, my understanding is that issuance and redemption fees with FinPension are always 0, as included in the 0.39% administrative (I just opened a support ticket with them to confirm) while for VIAC, even if low, they told me it’s still a small % on top of the 0.41%. Would you confirm my understanding?

        Thanks a lot for your time!

      2. Yes, you could go that extreme!

        No, I cannot confirm :) Most of the funds used by Finpension have load and sell fees. They are very small fees, but they are definitely here, on the same level as VIAC.

  3. Since a number of years I have been asking VIAC support about two factor authentication (2FA), but so far no movement in that respect. A finance application without 2FA is a total no-go these days, sorry. There is absolutely no way of justifying this weakness. The fact that VIAC does not seem to care for such a long time is rather disappointing. I will stop funding my 3a accounts with VIAC for this reason. My experience tought me, that with financial issues, SAFETY and DATA SECURITY is a top priority above absolutely all other aspects – without exception.

    1. I think we are extremely late in Switzerland with 2FA. Most providers use only SMS as 2FA, which is one of the least secure ways to do 2FA. On top of that, many providers do not even care to do 2FA…
      This is a global issue for me :(
      And I would say it also comes from poor security education in users. Because I can guess that most people, unlike you, will never request 2FA, they would rather not have it…

      But agree with you.

      1. Spoofing in Switzerland is very unlikely, it’s mostly a problem in other countries with sketchy providers. I agree that they should have 2FA and I don’t understand how they could neglect that for such a long period. At least you cannot withdraw money without 2FA.

      2. It’s unlikely but not impossible. Therefore, it makes more sense to use something stronger like proper TOTP with a Yubikey (or a Yubikey directly, but very few companies put the effort).

        For me, we should have proper 2FA in many more products.

    2. Just asked VIAC yesterday because of your comment. VIACs statement right now is that they plan 2FA with their autumn release this year.
      Just let’s hope they can manage to finally bring 2FA in general, not only for changes that effects your money.

  4. You said that “having 40% of CHF in my portfolio will limit my diversification” on VIAC. I can only partially agree because you can still go for world funds that are hedged to CHF with the remaining 40 %. I thought that this was not possible when I tried it out at first. In the end, you could have a portfolio with 99 % in non-Swiss stocks (but 40 % must be in CHF).

    1. Hi,

      Yes, this is exacty what I mentioned. And there is value in currency diversification as well, which this 40% forced would prevent me from having. You can have a portfolio without Swiss stocks, as mentioned in my article, but you need to hedge at least part of it.

  5. I see that the various third pillars are offering the same ETFs except for very small exceptions (like crypto fund offered by Finpension). Unfortunately I do not find third pillars that offer other kind of ETFs dedicated to specific sector as ( per example ) the semiconductor , transportation, oil, bioengineering and so on ….. Am I wrong ? There is any way to bypass the problem ? Thank you for your kind reply

    1. I am not aware of any way to bypass “the problem” (in quote because I dont’ think it’s a problem). The 3a must be diversified by law I believe and this diversification prevents them from offering too many undiversified ETFs.

    2. Maybe Inyovas Pillarn3a can be a solution for you.
      Just be aware that Inyova does stock picking and is bit expensive with 0.8% Fee

  6. Thanks Baptiste! I have checked again (something I should have done from the very beginning) and I can confirm that all 3a funds of PF are actively managed. Here the fees (TER) and performance (3-year cumulative return) of PF funds according to their datasheets:
    – PF Pension – ESG 25 Fund: 1.09%, -0.8%
    – PF Pension – ESG 50 Fund: 1.16%, 5.49%
    – PF Pension – ESG 75 Fund: 1.21%, 17.10%
    – PF Pension – ESG 100 Fund: 1.23%, 25.59%

    In contrast, the finpension Global 100 fund (Swisscanto) is passively managed with:
    TER: 0.39%
    3-year cumulative return: 25.09%

    Thus, changing to finpension was a no-brainer :-)

    What is more annoying is the fact that the fees of PF are well hidden. You will not find them unless you actively look for the fund datasheets. In contrast, finpension shows the fees directly in the dashboard of the app.

    1. Interesting, they used to have passive funds. I guess they changed that by using only ESG Funds. Thanks!

      Yes, large banks are not transparent on purpose about fees :)

  7. Dear Mr. Poor Swiss,

    Thank you very much for such an amazing blog!! In spite of having read quite a bit about this topic, it was not until I received your newsletter that I realized I had to look into this in more detail. Now I have decided to transfer all my funds from PostFinance (I was not aware the funds were actively managed, which is terrible!) to Finpension. I am very much looking forward to enjoying a low-cost and high-performance passiv fund with Finpension!

    Thanks for the time you put to spread all the good knowledge you have!

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