Banking News

How the Swiss Invest Their Money: Survey 2020

April 22, 2020

The 2020 Swiss investment habit survey by independent online comparison service reveals that residents of Switzerland remain conservative in their investments in spite of the negative interest environment. So far, this conservatism has proven to be an advantage in the face of the coronavirus crisis.

Independent online comparison service conducted a representative survey in early 2020 in which residents of Switzerland were asked how they hold and invest their money. The survey, which included 1500 participants, reveals which assets classes the Swiss invest in, and how important each asset class is to their overall investments.

The results: “Switzerland’s population invests fairly conservatively. That has not changed in even with the negative interest rate environment, and has so far been an advantage during the coronavirus crisis,” says CEO Benjamin Manz.

Private accounts (checking accounts) and savings accounts are still the most popular vehicles for preserving and investing personal wealth. These are followed by pension funds and private retirement savings (pillar 3a and 3b). Only around one-fourth of residents invest in stocks. Around one-fifth of residents hold gold.

Gender-based differences in investment practices are also apparent. Men are more likely to be invested in higher-risk vehicles like stocks and speculative instruments like bitcoin. Women place greater importance on conventional savings accounts.

Investment vehicles by popularity

Participants in the survey were asked how much money they have invested in each of 35 different investment vehicles. Participants rated their use of each on a scale of 1 (no wealth invested) to 10 (all wealth invested). Swiss are most likely to hold wealth in private accounts, with 91% holding at least some money in a private account. This is followed by savings accounts (84%), cash held at home (72%), occupational pension funds (64%), pillar 3a retirement accounts (51%), cash value life insurance (36%), real estate (34%), and stocks (26%).

View an interactive graphic comparison of investment vehicles by popularity here.

Investment vehicles by significance also surveyed the significance of individual investment vehicles to residents. Survey participants had to rate the importance of each investment vehicle to their overall wealth on a scale of 1 (not important at all) to 10 (very important).

The results show that occupational pension funds are the most important investment for Swiss consumers, with 53% rating occupational pension funds as fairly important to very important (ratings 7-10). This is followed by savings account balances (49%), pillar 3a retirement account balances (39%), pillar 3a retirement funds (36%), real estate (27%), cash held at home (26%), pillar 3a and 3b cash value life insurance (23%), general stocks and Swiss stocks (10% each) and gold (10%).

Investment vehicles which are important to only a small portion of residents include foreign stocks (7%), cash held in safe deposit boxes (7%), precious metals other than gold (7%), ETFs and actively-managed mutual funds (6% each), fixed deposits (6%), bonds and medium-term notes (5% each), index funds (4%), bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies (4% each), crowdlending (4%), structured products (4%), forex and CFDs (3% each).

View an interactive graphic comparison of investment vehicles by significance here.

Cash as an investment

Cash is the number one investment vehicle in Switzerland – primarily in the form of cash balances in private accounts and savings accounts

91% of survey participants hold positive private account balances. 26% of participants hold small balances, 40% hold mid-sized balances and 25% hold large private account balances. Of participants who hold savings account balances, 21% hold small balances, 36% hold mid-sized balances and 27% hold large savings account balances.

Holding cash at home is also a popular means of holding wealth: 43% of participants keep small amounts of cash at home; 21% hold mid-sized amounts of cash at home; 7% hold large amounts of cash at home. Interestingly, holding cash at home is more popular in German-speaking Switzerland than in French-speaking Switzerland.

Holding cash in safe deposit boxes is less popular: 8% hold small amounts of cash in safe deposit boxes; 7% hold mid-sized amounts; 3% hold large amounts of cash in safe deposit boxes.

Retirement: pillar 3a and occupational pension funds

Retirement savings are a key investment for residents of Switzerland. In addition to occupational pension fund benefits, pillar 3a tax-privileged retirement saving vehicles and cash value life insurance are also of great significance.

15% of survey participants hold only a small amount of occupational pension fund benefits. 33% hold a mid-sized amount of benefits, and 16% hold a large amount of occupational pension fund benefits. Pillar 3a retirement accounts are almost as popular, with 12% of residents holding a small investment, 26% a mid-sized investment and 14% a large investment in pillar 3a investment vehicles.

Both the pillar 3a and occupational pension funds are more significant to residents of German-speaking Switzerland than to residents of French-speaking Switzerland. Age also plays a role: investing in retirement savings is exceptionally common among adults between the ages of 26 and 49 years old. Only around one-third of young adults (18 to 25 years old) make use of the pillar 3a, compared to around two-thirds of adults aged 26 to 49 years old.

Cash value life insurance based on the pillar 3a and 3b private retirement saving categories is also significant. 10% of residents have a small investment, 17% a mid-sized investment, and 9% a large investment in cash value life insurance policies.


26% of participants have invested in stocks: 9% have small stock investments; 10% have mid-sized stock investments; 6% have large stock investments. Investing in foreign stocks is less popular: 7% of participants have made small investments; 8% have made mid-sized investments; 5% have made large investments in foreign stocks.

Stock investments are less widely used and are also rated as less significant in French-speaking Switzerland than in German-speaking Switzerland. Gender-based differences are exceptionally notable here, with more than twice as many men investing in stocks than women.

An age-based breakdown also reveals interesting facts, with age playing a more significant role in stock investments than in most other investment vehicles. Personal wealth is also a determining factor. The greater an individual’s personal wealth, the more likely they are to be invested in stocks. While only 19% of residents with personal wealth of between 20,000 and 50,000 francs have invested in stocks, a third of residents with between 50,000 and 100,000 francs of wealth and 80% of millionaires have made stock investments.

Fixed deposits and bonds

Bonds and fixed deposits are used by approximately the same number of residents. 6% of residents have made small investments in fixed deposits, 6% have made mid-sized investments in fixed deposits and 4% have made large investments in fixed deposits. Bonds are used by almost identical numbers of residents in similar proportions. Medium-term notes from banks are slightly less popular.

Funds and ETFs

Around 18% of survey participants hold shares in actively-managed mutual funds. 5% of residents have made small investments in mutual funds, 8% have made mid-sized investments, and 5% have made large investments.

Exchange traded funds (ETFs) have gained in popularity in recent years and are now almost as widely used as actively-managed mutual funds. 4% of residents have made small investments in ETFs, 7% have made mid-sized investments, and 5% have made large investments in ETF shares. Index funds, which in contrast to ETFs are not listed on stock exchanges, are somewhat less popular.

Gender-based differences are notable here, with around twice as many men investing in mutual funds and ETFs than women.

Gold and precious metals

Investing in gold is relatively popular in Switzerland: 10% of residents have invested small amounts in gold; 6% have invested mid-sized amounts; 4% have invested large amounts in gold. Other precious metals like silver and platinum are less widely used: 6% have made small investments in non-gold precious metals; 5% have made mid-sized investments; 3% have made large investments.

Investing in both gold and other precious metals is almost twice as popular with men than it is with women. Wealth plays an even more important role: the higher an individual’s personal wealth, the higher the chance that they hold gold as an investment. Nearly half of Swiss millionaires have invested in gold.

Real estate

Around one-third of residents hold some form of investment in real estate – with home ownership playing a significant role in this figure. It is not surprising that investing in real estate is more common among the rural population than among urban dwellers. 37% of rural residents between the ages of 18 and 74 have invested in real estate, compared to just 32% of urban residents.

Speculative investments

14% of survey participants have invested in structured products. Speculative asset classes like cryptocurrencies, CFDs, forex and crowdlending are less popular in Switzerland. All of these speculative investment vehicles are much more popular among young adults aged 18 to 25 years old than with adults in other age groups.

Still, 10% of residents have invested in bitcoin to some extent. 4% of residents have made small investments in bitcoin, 3% have made mid-sized investments and 3% have made large investments. The figures are nearly identical for other investment in other cryptocurrencies. Men are three times more likely to have bitcoin investments than women. Only 5% of adults aged 50 to 74 have invested in bitcoin, compared to 12% of adults aged 26 to 49 and 16% of adults aged 18 to 25.

CFDs and forex are exceptionally speculative investment vehicles which are most popular among frequent traders and day traders. 3% of residents have made small investments in forex, 3% have made mid-sized investments, and 2% have made large forex investments. CFDs are used in approximately the same proportions.

Crowdlending is a new asset class which is not yet widely understood or used. It allows investors to connect with borrowers and provide private loans directly over peer to peer lending platforms. 2% of residents have made small investments in peer to peer lending, 3% have made mid-sized investments and 2% have made large crowdlending investments.

Compare Swiss investment vehicles now:
Interactive stock broker comparison
Interactive wealth management comparison
Interactive pillar 3a account comparison
Interactive retirement fund comparison
Interactive savings account comparison

Online trading brokers in comparison

Find the cheapest online broker now

Compare now
Trading platforms

Brokers with low fees

Swiss Broker


  • Swiss online bank

  • No additional exchange charges

  • No transaction fees for Swiss equities

Swiss Broker

Saxo Bank Switzerland

  • Swiss online bank

  • Favorable prices stock trading

  • High account interest rates

Swiss Broker


  • Swiss online bank

  • No custody fees for stocks

  • Free market research and trading signals

Wealth managers in comparison

Find the most favorable wealth management now

Compare now for free