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History of the Founding
The welfare activities of what was then the Schweizerische Kreditanstalt (SKA) stretch all the way back to the nineteenth century.
In 1897, the shareholders set aside CHF 400,000 at the suggestion of the Board of Directors, creating a pension and welfare pool, but not a true pension fund. The amount invested therefore remained in the bank’s ownership, and grew steadily.
In 1906, an attempt was made to establish an insurance provider. However, the fund’s net assets of CHF 1.5 mn did not suffice to provide the actuarial provisions required for the 545 employees working at the company at the time.
A short time later, in 1912, principles were defined for paying out old age and disability pensions. However, there were still no actuarial bases (one of the defining characteristics of a pension fund). Among other things, these define the probability that a certain number of people will become disabled, die, or marry at a certain age during their employment.
In October 1919, the time finally came for the pension fund of the SKA to be founded with 1,206 active participants. These participants were able to insure their annual salaries of up to CHF 10,000 – a high maximum salary compared to other pension funds at the time. Other advantages included minimum pensions in the event of disability or death, as well as an affiliated retirement savings plan for employees of the bank who could not join the pension fund for reasons relating to their age or health.
The concept behind the pension fund was progressive from the very beginning, and benefits were introduced for the good of the bank’s staff. The fund performed well and was soon able to increase its benefits.
In 1929, ten years after its foundation, it already had assets in excess of CHF 20 mn and the pensions of 150 retirees were secured. The good early years were followed by the economic crisis of the 1930s, which required drastic measures not just with regard to active participants but also pension recipients.
Entitlements and pensions fell for almost 13 years, until economic growth (combined with increased living costs and wages) returned in 1945 after the end of the Second World War. The benefits offered by the pension fund began to grow again, and the contributions employees had to pay improved in their favor. The pension fund made it possible for employees of the bank to retire without working into their old age and eventually having to seek help from their families or government relief for the poor.
The Pension Fund as we know it today has changed a lot since then. Maximum insured salaries have risen dramatically, benefits have been adjusted upward to keep pace with the cost of living, and additional benefits such as lump sum withdrawals upon retirement or advance withdrawals in connection with the promotion of home ownership are now a matter of course.
On the other hand, the founding principle of protecting insured participants against the economic consequences of retirement, disability, and death remains just as valid as it was 100 years ago.