60 years of Asga
60 years of Asga
The founders of Asga held their first meeting at Hotel Walhalla in St. Gallen on 23 February 1962, marking the birth of a pension fund that continues to be characterised by entrepreneurial spirit and far-sightedness to the present day.
Let us take a look back: The beginnings of occupational retirement planning date back to the 19th century when, in the wake of industrialisation, the proprietors of progressive factories and railway companies established institutions to protect employees and their surviving dependants. It was, however, to be generations later before mandatory 2nd pillar retirement planning was ultimately enshrined in the Swiss constitution in 1972. The corresponding law only entered into force in 1985. Fact is, it was the visionaries led by Dr. Paul Bürgi who recognised the importance of occupational retirement pensions more than 20 years before today’s BVG/LPP entered into force.
Seen against this backdrop, the step taken by Agsa’s founders can most definitely be acknowledged as a key pioneering achievement: for employees but also for Eastern Switzerland. It was a matter of particular importance to Paul Bürgi, as chairman of the group of founders, that retirement assets accumulated in Eastern Swiss businesses also benefited the region. This was a further factor behind the decision to establish Asga.
A co-operative out of conviction
The handful of members present at the time of foundation supported the idea of creating their own independent pension scheme. The organisational form of a co-operative was chosen deliberately. In their view, an independent co-operative would be able to look after the benefits of members in a more targeted way as well as manage the money more safely, efficiently and transparently. All members would be treated equally, including with regard to consultation. Indeed that remains the case today. As a co-operative, our focus is always on our members. That’s why in this anniversary year we also want to talk about our members – because a co-operative connects people, at the end of the day. Our membership likewise includes pioneers who have achieved tremendous things in their area, and we plan to tell you a bit more about them over the course of this anniversary year.
The people behind Asga
A lot has happened over the last 60 years. Many committed individuals believed – and continue to believe – in Asga and have helped forge its culture, values and overall development. We asked people who were around at the time about how things were back then, how things are today, and how Asga’s future is shaping up. These interviews will tell us a little about the background.
«The founding members probably knew each other personally. But even today retirement provision is an extremely personal matter. Members trust us with their pension assets and we are highly conscious of that responsibility.»
member of the Board of Directors
«I would seriously encourage women to tackle the subject of pensions,
immerse themselves in it professionally, and take responsibility in this area.»
1975 CEO, Chairman 1995–2008
«That’s the co-operative spirit! It wasn’t some anonymous legal entity providing retirement benefits, it was a personal relationship with an opportunity for direct involvement.»
Asga CFO 1992–2012, member of Executive Board from 1994
«The concept of a co-operative providing pensions for employees of small businesses immediately caught on.»
Director / Chairman of the Board of Directors 2006–2016
«The founders of Asga were doers; they identified a problem and solved it.»
1971–1976 sales force / 1976–2008 Deputy CEO
«As a co-operative, Asga doesn’t have customers – it has members. Our members pay contributions rather than premiums – contributions to their own retirement provision.»