Pension consultation: Tips from our expert Gizem Açal.

Most people know that it is important to plan for their retirement, but still keep putting it off, perhaps not knowing how easy it really is.

Planning for retirement is important, and most people know that, but still put it off. Perhaps not knowing how easy it really is: a pension consultation guides you to a personalised solution in just two appointments. Tips from our expert Gizem Açal.

What do you enjoy about your job as a retirement planning advisor?

Gizem: I particularly like interacting with customers and learning about their personal desires and goals. They share their needs with me and place their trust in me – spurring me on to find the best pension solution for them day in, day out. The solutions I develop always need to be flexible, aligned with customers’ budgets and suitable for their needs. I also need to make sure that they will still work well, even if their life situation changes. This makes my job very exciting: it is practically a calling.

How did you become a retirement planning advisor?

Gizem: I started by completing a degree in Business Studies alongside my job, which is where I came into contact with the topic of pensions. This benefited me when I decided to train as a retirement planning advisor at the Generali Academy. The training to become a retirement planning advisor encompasses every part of life, from birth, training, leaving the parental home, wedding, divorce, buying your own home, retirement, growing old and dying. My training also explored the stumbling blocks that life can throw at us along the way, like illness, accidents and any disabilities.

I then completed my qualification to become a financial advisor. I am currently studying to become a federally certified financial planner so I can offer my customers the best possible advice.

What can a client expect from a consultation with you?

Gizem: A pension consultation always aims to ensure my customers’ needs and desires are aligned with their pension situation and the financial resources they have available to them. We are guided by the principle of using every insured franc where the need is greatest. We need to cut inefficient, unnecessary insurance and invest the money “gained” in retirement provision. There is no such thing as a cookie-cutter plan: every customer is different, so they each receive a tailor-made solution from me.

How is a pension consultation structured?

Gizem: Generally, a pension consultation consists of two appointments. We start by analysing the customer’s needs. I am specifically looking to find out what they want for themselves. I discover this by asking lots of open-ended questions on all kinds of topics, from their pension, saving, investment and leisure behaviour through to their living, tax and family situation, and their plans for the future. During this needs analysis, it is important for me, as a retirement planning advisor, to listen carefully to what they’re saying.

At the second appointment, I present the solution I have developed to the customer and we discuss the next steps for putting it into practice. This meeting is all about answering the last few questions, clarifying any remaining details and, if necessary, tweaking the pension solution a little.

There won’t be any need for you to do anything for five years after your pension consultation – unless your circumstances change. And, to make sure that isn't the case, I check in with my clients’ once a year.

Why is the topic of retirement provision so important?

Gizem: As various worry barometers highlight, the topic of AHV, or retirement provision, is always among the top three issues bothering people. This means that many people are aware that they, too, could be hit by poverty in old age, seeing as state and occupational pensions often only cover the bare essentials. In other words, your retirement plans could remain a mere dream because you do not have enough money to cover them, or because you did not save money systematically while you were working.

What’s the best way to prepare for a consultation?

Gizem: Alongside a readiness to talk about pensions, it certainly makes sense to bring your current pension and insurance solutions with you to your first appointment, along with your bank and tax documents and your salary statements. We can only draw up the best possible solution once all the facts are on the table. After I have a sense of the current situation, I use all the relevant information to create a bespoke pension solution that suits your budget and needs – while remaining flexible. This process takes around five to ten working days.

When should I ask for a pension consultation?

Gizem: In theory, as soon as you turn 18. It is important to protect yourself against risks like disability and even death from this age onwards. The topic of retirement provision first takes on relevance when you start drawing regular wages and have a permanent job, or when you become self-employed. In short, the sooner, the better – time is against you.

Free pension consultations.

Should you have regular pension consultations?

Gizem: Definitely. Any changes to your family, personal or professional life are a potential opportunity to review your pension situation. There is also a rough rule of thumb that you should review the solutions you have put in place every five years, even if only to confirm that everything is as it should be.

In what situations can it make a real difference?

Gizem: Any time, from the cradle to the grave! What I mean by that is everything from moving out of your childhood home, turning 18, starting your professional career, moving in with the love of your life, getting married, getting divorced, having children or adopting them, academic milestones like your children’s schooling, university education or training, purchasing your own home, your children moving out, entering retirement and on through to a death in the family, inheritances and gifts, and so on.

This list is not exhaustive and may be extended as required. Personally, I think you are much better off reviewing your pension situation one time too many than one too few. At present, most insurance companies are still offering free pension consultations, even though this service is worth between CHF 500 and CHF 2,500.

What is the most important tip you would give clients?

Gizem: As I mentioned, my customers are often aware of the topic of retirement provision. Unfortunately, people tend to put it on the back burner time and again. Pensions do not start at 50: they start at 25, when you first see the contributions to your occupational pension being deducted from your salary. If you start at this point, you have a decent time frame within which to start putting small sums of money aside for old age. As I like to say, don’t put off until tomorrow what you could do today!

Gizem Açal

Gizem Açal

Agency Manager in Liestal and Olten

Gizem has a degree in business administration and has been working as an insurance consultant and retirement planning advisor for Generali since 2019. She took over as the manager of the Generali insurance agencies in Liestal and Olten in the summer of 2022. She is currently training to become a certified financial advisor.

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