Can pension funds strengthen retirement provision with digital access?

4 January 2021

How do new digital offerings influence user behavior? We are confronted with this question again and again in our projects. Web or app analytics can be used to create targeted analyses of the usability of digital offerings. This provides a good analysis of the impact of changes in the user journey or the features offered. However, this approach falls short when it comes to the holistic analysis of customer relationships and customer behavior. Here, further data is needed.

ETH study including data from more than 500 companies and 6000 insured persons

A pension fund and Acrea client has given the Center of Economics of ETH Zurich access to detailed, anonymized data of two collective foundations. The collective foundations together serve more than 500 corporate clients as well as more than six thousand insured persons. The insured persons have been provided with digital access (pension app) for about three years.

Based on this data, the Center of Economics at ETH Zurich produced a study outlining the impact of a digital offering on users' retirement planning.

The study can be found here: ETH-Studie



The study provides some exciting insights

  • After the introduction of the app, the number of insured persons making an additional tax-privileged contribution to the occupational pension scheme increased
  • Limited knowledge of pension rules and tax incentives (due to high information costs) or a complicated, lengthy process to make buy-ins into the pension fund (= transaction costs) represent a significant obstacle to optimal retirement planning
  • The app provides information that allows users to easily reduce information and transaction costs

The authors emphasize that these findings are particularly important in light of the fact that several government agencies and pension funds around the world have implemented or are planning to implement similar digital systems.

These systems are designed to help individuals save for retirement. Policy makers should encourage the introduction of digital customer portals based on the findings.


The study shows that better information and easier access to information and transactions lead people to make better provisions for retirement.

Too often today, it is still men and high earners who benefit - however, the study does not further address this societal problem. Nevertheless, we at Acrea are convinced that improved digital access to pension fund data and processes (e.g. making buy-ins) is absolutely necessary to increase pension transparency - for everyone.

There are various ways to promote the introduction of digital access. The political path or the path of pressure from customers - this arises when the needs of insured persons change. We are convinced that both are needed.

There is still a long way to go before all insured persons are better informed. Countries like Denmark, with its portal, are already a long way ahead. But step by step, we are getting closer to the goal.


Acrea is actively helping to drive the digitization of the second pillar in Switzerland. Examples:

  • We actively participate in overarching, political initiatives such as the SFTI Swiss Pensions Cockpit (
  • We have launched the OpenPK project, which aims to open up pension fund data and thus create more transparency - among other things, this also makes it easier to integrate data into the Pension Cockpit. Startups with innovative ideas also benefit from such open interfaces.
  • We are working with our pension fund clients to provide dedicated client portals for their own insured persons to reduce information and transaction costs for those. The entrepreneurial spirit of these pension funds is a key driver of change
  • We monitor developments and regularly write blog posts or articles on this topic in magazines such as Schweizer Personalvorsorge

If you are interested, have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us.