Pension fund

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The pension fund is a pension scheme for employees of a company within the framework of the company pension scheme . The employee receives a commitment, which is either financed by himself through deferred salary or by the employer. The pension fund manages the assets and later pays out retirement pensions or retirement capital (pension benefits). The pension fund is very similar to direct insurance , the difference can only be seen historically: Pension funds were used for company pension schemes in large companies and in the public sector and were operated by them. Direct insurance, on the other hand, was and is a company-independent product. However, the market for pension funds has been open since 2002. The existence of the pension funds is often based on a collective agreement (e.g. VBL , ZVK ).


In Germany, a pension fund is an institution that acts as a legally independent company within the company pension scheme. The purpose of the pension fund is to ensure the protection of lost earnings due to old age, disability and death. The insurance business is operated by way of the funded system.

In Switzerland and Liechtenstein, it is either a legal person under public law or under private law; it can be part of an insurance institution. In Austria, a pension fund is a state-licensed, privately organized asset management company for the purpose of old-age provision. The pension fund always owes pension benefits against payment of contributions and thus bears certain pension risks. The risks covered are - depending on the type of pension fund, weighted differently - the risks of disability , old age and death . The beneficiary has a legal right to the benefits of the pension fund.


The pension fund is operated in the legal form of a mutual insurance association (VVaG) or as a stock corporation ( Section 232 VAG). If the pension fund acts as a VVaG, the articles of association can stipulate that the members (employers) are obliged to make additional contributions, or that the contributions can increase without an increase in benefits or that the guaranteed benefits are reduced, which means nothing other than intervention in existing pension plans may. If the company is named as an AG, the company's assets are liable for any liabilities.


On January 1, 2006, the pension funds were deregulated through an amendment to the Insurance Supervision Act (VAG). Deregulated pension funds are subject to the same requirements for the discount rate and other calculations as life insurers. They must submit their conditions and tariffs together with their calculation bases as well as their solvency (solvency) to BaFin for review. On application, the state of regulation can be restored in accordance with Section 233 (1) sentence 3 VAG, a possibility that many of the old pension funds that have existed for many decades have also used. These pension funds (so-called company pension funds) differ from the deregulated (sales-oriented) pension funds of the insurance industry. The prerequisite for regulation is the waiver of a sales apparatus that would cause closing costs.


Deregulated pension funds such as life insurers are subject to corporate and trade tax. Regulated pension funds are exempt from this if they do not operate the reinsurance business.

The contributions to a pension fund are regular business expenses for the employer within the meaning of Section 4c EStG . This reduces the taxable profit. The contributions that the employer pays to a pension fund for his employees are part of the wages , but are tax and social security exempt up to 4% of the contribution assessment limit of the statutory pension insurance (West) according to § 3 No. 63 EStG . The later pension benefits, however, are subject to full subsequent taxation according to § 22 No. 5 EStG , whereby it must be taken into account that the tax burden in old age is usually lower than in the employment phase. The tax-free amount can also be increased by 1800 EUR if no contributions have been taxed at a flat rate according to § 40b EStG.

Pay-as-you-go pension funds can continue to conclude new contracts in accordance with Section 40b of the Income Tax Act (old version) with lump-sum taxed contributions. However, the lump-sum settlement in these contracts is no longer tax-free, but taxable according to the half-income method with half the income.

Riester funding

Contributions to the pension fund, which are raised from individually taxed income subject to social security contributions, can be deducted as special expenses under Section 10a of the Income Tax Act or funded by a pension allowance under Section 79 ff of the Income Tax Act . In this case, the subsequent retirement benefits are subject to taxation in full (downstream taxation).

Insolvency insurance

Subsidiary liability on the part of the employer regularly applies to pension funds ( Section 1 (1) sentence 3 BetrAVG). If the employer becomes liable, he himself (not the pension fund) is subject to the insolvency protection obligation through the pension insurance association . In principle, pension funds are also not protected by the life insurance security fund, but pension funds have the option of joining the Protektor security system under certain conditions ( Section 221 (2) VAG). However, regulated pension funds in particular are regularly denied this protection. Pension funds are subject to insurance supervision ( BaFin ).

In Germany (as of the beginning of 2020) there are 135 pension funds with around 170 billion euros in investments. Pension funds have been more affected than life insurers by the low interest rate phase that has persisted for years. Some health insurance companies need considerable support from employers as providers.


A pension fund is a stock corporation that manages one or more investment and risk groups (VRG). The legal basis for the activities of pension funds in Austria are the Pension Fund Act (PKG) and the Company Pension Act (BPG).

A VRG (investment and risk group) is a group of beneficiaries formed in the pension fund in which capital is invested in the same way for everyone. In addition, the employees and retirees combined in a VRG have similar characteristics (risk of occupational disability, life expectancy, etc.). The risks are balanced within a VRG.

Each VRG comprises at least a thousand people and is made up of employees from several - even smaller - companies or one large company.

In the case of company pensions, a distinction is made between two phases: the phase before retirement (“expectancy phase”) and the time after retirement (“benefit phase”).

In the qualifying phase, the company or the employee pays into the pension fund. From the contractually agreed retirement date, the employee becomes the “beneficiary” and receives the agreed company pension from the pension fund, in accordance with the contractual provisions. The company usually stops making payments to the pension fund for the employee concerned at the same time.

However, there is also the possibility that an employee may become incapacitated or disabled. In this case, if the pension agreement provides for appropriate protection for occupational disability or disability, he will receive a so-called occupational disability pension.

In the event of the death of a beneficiary in the expectancy or benefit phase, his or her surviving dependents receive a pension in accordance with the pension agreement.

Switzerland / Liechtenstein

In Switzerland, the occupational pension scheme (commonly known as the pension fund) forms the so-called second pillar within the Swiss three-pillar system .

A basic distinction is made between defined contribution and defined benefit plans. With the defined contribution plan, the contribution amount is set according to the regulations in the amount of a reference value (e.g. relevant salary), and the amount of the benefit is determined from this. In the defined benefit plan, however, the contributions are determined on the basis of the defined benefit.

The employer has at a certain gross annual salary (the so-called. Coordination deduction ) of CHF 24'885 (as of 2019), forcing the workers from 1.1. to register with his pension fund after his 17th birthday. Exceptions are stipulated by law. According to the pension fund's contribution regulations, the employee's contributions are now deducted from the gross wage each month, even if 13 monthly wages have been paid out only 12 times. (The invoicing of the total contribution is borne by the employer, he can deduct a maximum of 50% of the total contribution for the employee.) If the employee is under 25 years of age, very low contributions will be applied, because only the risks of disability and death are covered Accumulation of savings contributions ( vested benefits ) only takes place from 1.1. after the 24th birthday. The Swiss pension fund system works - in contrast to the other Swiss social insurances - according to the funded system . The coverage ratio provides information about the percentage of the fund's obligations that are covered by assets.

The Climate Alliance calls for more sustainability and climate protection from pension funds.


  • Peter Hanau: Conversion of remuneration: direct insurance, direct commitment, support fund, pension fund, pension fund , O. Schmidt, Cologne 2006, ISBN 3-504-42046-4 .
  • Ralf Fath, Marco Herrmann, Kristof Linke, Joachim Schwind, Stefan Wolf: Pension Funds: Fundamentals and Practice , 2nd edition, published by the aba - Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Betriebliche Altersversorgung e. V., Berlin, CF Müller, Heidelberg [2016], ISBN 978-3-8114-5877-2 .

Web links

Legal bases in Germany

Legal bases in Switzerland

Individual evidence

  2. January 2, 2020: Pension funds at their limit - supervision sounds the alarm
  3. Climate compatibility of the Swiss pension funds - an overview ; accessed on October 26, 2019