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In many countries, there exist excellent private and public pension funds. However, those are often designed on the assumption that people will work with the same employer for decades, and certainly within the same country. If I am working in many different countries throughout my life, I may end up with 5–10 pension that are all tiny, all from different countries, with likely a high overhead for administration and international money transfer. Therefore, I'm considering to complement it with a private pension or life annuity insurance.

Are there any specific private pensions or life annuities geared to people who may live and earn income in a large number of different countries throughout their life? Things to consider would be to avoid double taxation and minimise costs for international money transfer, both when paying into the annuity and during the payout period.

(Specifically to my situation: passport from The Netherlands, pensions so far from public employers in Sweden and Canada, very likely from other countries later, probably still public employers (state, federal, or perhaps supranational))

  • Note that if you can't get your employer to pay for it on top of your wage and you don't benefit from some tax incentive, then a private pension is just a special form of savings. You might just as well put money aside and invest it depending on your needs/preferences. – Gala Mar 20 '14 at 15:09
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    @GaëlLaurans Except that savings may run out whereas pensions are guaranteed to be paid until death. Therefore the question title includes annuities, which I understand are closer to how pensions behave. – gerrit Mar 20 '14 at 15:11
  • True that's one advantage I forgot, at least for state pensions, to the extent you trust the government backing them. But the kind of private plans we are talking about typically would not. It's just a matter of how you structure your investments and insurance. – Gala Mar 20 '14 at 15:14
  • @GaëlLaurans I thought pensions did that by definition, even if private? Otherwise, how would they be different from savings? – gerrit Mar 20 '14 at 15:14
  • Tax incentives would be one. In many countries, a pension fund is a type of savings account that meets some rules and can be paid into before income taxes. A particular way to structure the contract and preference for relatively safe investments as you grow older would be another. Incidentally, you might not have noticed it but in the Netherlands, some pension funds let you chose your risk profile or specify some investment preferences. – Gala Mar 20 '14 at 15:21
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Yes there are such plans available but they may not be available yet on individual basis. Namely the may be available for large multinational corporations rather then individual employees or self-employed.

You can take a look at the article by Mark Price from Mercer Group on the subject of IPPs(International Pension Plans) which provide you exactly what you're looking for in terms of being available from many countries with contributions in many various currencies and so on. The article also gives an incomplete list of providers of such plans.

The issue is that some of them like the one provided by Zurich International Solutions require contributions at a minimum of $100,000 per annum. There are solutions that are supposed to be tailored to the individuals from Swiss Life but I can't find details on what they are and most of the other ones I have tried looking at the situation is exactly the same (call us and we will discuss what we can do).

  • It's only for the rich? – gerrit Mar 20 '14 at 14:54
  • @gerrit For the corporations. Check Swiss Life or TMF group – Karlson Mar 20 '14 at 14:55
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I have got an offer from Lichtenstein Life, Kokon Garant Plus, which qualifies for 3a/3b retirement plan in Switzerland. Here I guess is the equivalent in English. This offer the consultant made on creterion, that I am about to leave Switzerland.

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    What's special about it? Once you leave the country, you won't get any of the tax benefits of a “third pillar” retirement plan in Switzerland. And if you get the money out to invest it in another retirement plan somewhere else, it will get taxed. See the page from the BSV/OFAS in German or French – Gala Apr 25 '15 at 14:13
  • that is true, no tax advantage whatsoever in other countries. But if you anyway move and look for one plan for all countries, I guess there will be no option that will be tax-exempt in more than one country, not counting maybe EU (I am not an EU citizen anyway). i still did not accept this offer, firstly because of the reason of taxes. The only pro is extreme political stability of Switzerland and of the Swiss currency (or to be more precise mostly upward trend). The plan is based on a Zürcher Kantonalbank index (ZIMT), which is claimed as an advantage.Quite a conservative investment. – Dima Lituiev Apr 26 '15 at 17:10
  • It is not clear to me how this answers the question. – StrongBad Apr 28 '15 at 11:30

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